During the time of Christopher Columbus, his ships often traveled many leagues in a day. Jules Verne’s 19th Century science fiction novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea mentions this measurement. In fact, the word “league” has several definitions, depending on the context of use. In this article we will focus on the Spanish league, also known as a legua.
In modern English, the term “league” can mean:
A unit of distance, used in some countries, especially in Latin America. It was originally a fixed unit of distance equal to 5,000 varas, or a Spanish yard (about 2.6 miles or 4.2 km). A league is not in common usage today but it is still used in some places, particularly in Yucatan and rural Mexico. It is still the case that a league along a good road on level ground is greater in distance than a comparable league along a difficult path over rough terrain.
The league was first used in ancient Rome, where it was defined as the distance that a person could walk in an hour. Later, it was adopted by the rest of Europe and Latin America. Today, the term is most commonly associated with Spain where it is used as a unit of measurement.
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