This is the first of three issues commemorating the discovery of a sea route from Europe to India by Vasco da Gama and his crew. The fleet of four ships departed on 8 July 1497 from Lisbon and reached India on 20 May 1498. This issue depicts the trip’s first stage, which included the longest journey made out of sight of land at the time: over 6,000 miles on open ocean.
The stamps were designed by Carlos Possolo and lithographed by Litografia Maia on enamelled paper sheets with 4 sets each. The stamps have perforation 12×12½, and circulated from 12 November 1996 to 30 September 2001.