Tasman, Abel Janszoon (äˈbəl yänˈsōn täˈsmän) [key], 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).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.