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James Cook. Engraving of James Cook (1728-79), British explorer. Cook joined the Royal Navy in 1755, and his first major voyage was during 1768- 71. During this voyage he made the first accurate maps of New Zealand's coastline and made the first European landing in east Australia in 1770. During 1772-75 he tried to find a legendary south- ern continent. On 16 January 1773 he became the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle, but further progress south was soon halted by pack ice. In his third voyage (1776-79) he tried to find the Northwest passage, a navigable waterway around Canada. In 1778 he discovered the Hawaiian islands but was later killed by the natives there.
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