The Galápagos Islands consist of a tiny group of volcanic islands that are located on the equator (about 970km west of Ecuador) . The Galápagos islands are famous for the unique wildlife that inhabit the region. Many of these were studied by Charles Darwin and played an important part in the development of his theory of evolution. The islands are popular with scientists who come to study the location and animals and tourism is also becoming more popular. The islands are owned by Ecuador and the entire Galápagos province has a population of approximately 23,000.
Who Discovered the Galápagos Islands?
The European discovery of the Galápagos Islands occurred in 1535 by Spanish Bishop Fray Tomás de Berlanga. He had originally sailed to settle a dispute in Peru, but his ship drifted off course and he accidentally discovered the Galápagos islands. Later studies showed that the islands had probably been visited by South American people in the past, but no evidence of permanent settlement has been found. The islands were added to maps around 1570, when they got their name “Insulae de los Galopegos” (English: Islands of the Tortoises).
Although there are known reports of English pirates and shipwrecked sailors using the islands, the Islands were not permanently inhabited until 1832 when Ecuador annexed the Islands. The first governor of Galápagos brought convicts to the island in February. By October they were joined by a small group of farmers and workers. The islands became a national park in 1959 and today there are many groups dedicated to protecting the natural wonders of the islands.