Tasman, Abel Janszoon

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Tasman, Abel Janszoon

(ä`bəl yän`sōn tä`smän), 1603?–1659, Dutch navigator. In the service of the Dutch East India Company from c.1632 to 1653, he made several trading and exploring voyages in the Pacific and Indian oceans. On a voyage (1639–42) in the N Pacific he visited the Philippines and Taiwan, followed the coast of Japan, and discovered several small islands. In 1642 he sailed from Batavia in command of the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen. On that voyage he visited Tasmania (which he named Van Diemen's Land) and New Zealand, touched the Tonga islands, and returned (1643) to Batavia, having circumnavigated Australia and thus demonstrated that no connection exists between it and a polar continent. In 1644 he was dispatched to discover the relationship between New Guinea, Tasmania, and the known part of Australia; he established the continuity of land from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the northwest coast of Australia at the Tropic of Capricorn.


See biography by A. Sharp (1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tasman, Abel Janszoon


Born 1603 in Lutjegast, in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands; died October 1659 in Batavia (Jakarta). Dutch navigator in the service of the Dutch East India Company.

Commanding a merchant ship, Tasman sailed in the period 1638–41 in the seas of eastern Asia, as far north as Japan, and took part in the discovery of the Bonin Islands (1639). He was later given command of expeditions to explore Oceania (1642 and 1643) and Australia (1644). The object of the first expedition was to search for the “unknown southern continent,” in the course of which he discovered and mapped the southern and eastern shores of Van Diemen’s Land (the name of the island was changed to Tasmania in 1853), the western shore of New Zealand, the Three Kings Islands, the Tonga Islands, and islands of the Fiji group. The second expedition discovered the southern and western shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the northwestern shore of Australia. Both expeditions proved that Australia was a single mass of dry land and was not linked to a supposed southern continent.

Places named in honor of Tasman include the sea to the west of New Zealand, the bay and glacier of the southern island of New Zealand, the island off southeastern Australia, and the southeastern peninsula of Tasmania.


Nevskii, V. Otkrytiia Tasmana. Moscow, 1961.
Svet, Ia. M. Istoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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