Darién (dârˌēĕnˈ, Span. däryānˈ) [key], eastern part of Panama between the Gulf of Darién on the east and the Gulf of San Miguel on the west. Darién province, heavily forested and sparsely populated, is in the western part of the region. Formerly the name was frequently used to mean the entire isthmus of Panama. In 1513, Vasco Núñez de Balboa led an expedition across Darién and became the first European to view the Pacific Ocean from the New World. Keats referred to this exploit in his poem "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" but confused Balboa with Hernán Cortés.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.