Captain James Cook was a British explorer who visited six of the seven continents in three voyages occurring between 1768 and 1779. He was the first European to encounter the eastern coastline of Australia and almost found Antarctica. Cook died in a skirmish over a stolen ship in Hawaii.
England sent Cook on his first voyage under the pretense of observing Venus as it crossed the sun. While the expedition was able to make this observation, its ultimate goal was to discover a famed southern continent. During this first journey, Cook explored New Zealand and Australia.
Believing there was an even larger continent in the Southern Hemisphere, Cook set out to find Antarctica, but the cold turned him back. After a second failed attempt, he discovered several islands during his travels back to England, including those that form Hawaii, which he called the Sandwich Islands.
Cook's third journey was to find the Northwest Passage across North America. Captain Cook was responsible for mapping much of what is present day Newfoundland and the Pacific Coast of North America, including parts of Oregon, Washington and Canada. Vancouver Island bears the name of one of the officers in his party who later returned and spent several years exploring the Pacific Northwest. After his unsuccessful attempt at finding the passage, Cook returned to Hawaii and met his death.