Orellana Francisco de (1511?–1546), a Spanish soldier and explorer. Orellana was the first European to explore the course of the Amazon River. He was a member of the Gonzalo Pizarro expedition to the interior of South America. While leading a small search party, Orellana came upon a huge, east-flowing river. He followed its course across the continent, reaching the Atlantic Ocean in 1541. He reported seeing female warriors near the river, and the river received its name on the basis of that report. (The Amazons were female warriors in Greek mythology.) Orellana died during a later attempt to explore the river.