Galapagos History

According to Galapagos History, we find that Galapagos have been discovered a couple of times...


When the first human being put a firm footing on an Island, and centuries later when Ecuador took possession of the Islands in 1832 and gave official names to them.

The first human being in Galapagos was Tomas de Berlanga, a Spanish bishop who was navigating close to the shores of Central America on an apostolic mission in February of 1535.

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His boat had been stilled by calm winds, and the Panama Current pushed it southward only to know that the arrival was to some mysterious islands which had no evident charms.

"Birds are so silly," he wrote Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, "they know not how to fly". The Islands had been officially discovered. It is March 1535. Galapagos history tells us that eventually, the bishop's party sailed back to the continent with the first encouraging breeze.

The Islands were reported to Spain, but no effort was made to colonize them based on the somewhat uninviting descriptions from Berlanga.

Anyway, having arrived less that 500 years ago, humans are some of the newest living organisms inhabiting the Galapagos. More about the Galapagos Culture

Waiting in Dark Solitude

In the years beyond Columbus and Magellan, sailors doubted the real existence of certain group of Islands located between America and Oceania, so they referred to them as The Enchanted Islands, a name fitting a mirage.

Then, in 1570 a Galapagos history map of the Spanish New World drawn by a Flemish cartographer circulated in the Caribbean, showing the elusive Galapagos map, for the first time, with the unpoetical name of Islas de los Galapagos (Islands of the Giant Tortoises). Here's the True Meaning of the Word Galapago

This Galapagos map, in buccaneer's hands, was used to maraud up and down the Pacific in the 1600's.

During the 17th century and a good art of the 18th, the astute pirates found in the Galapagos a safe place to hide, repair their vessels, and stock up on fresh meat, killing some tortoises by the thousands.

According to Galapagos history they apparently left no buried treasures and eventually decided that the Caribbean was more challenging after all.

Late in the 18th century came the whaler fleets who made the Galapagos islands a center of operations, but after a number of years the whalers, too, left when the profits weren't worth the costly, lengthy routes.

All along Galapagos history the whalers are, indeed, the human group that leaves the first devastating impact on the Islands: thousands of Galapagos Turtles are killed, and the introduction of domestic animals.

These events will prove later the reasons for having a strong conservation campaign in today's Galapagos.

In sum, nobody really wanted the Galapagos until 1832. On February 12th, Colonel Ignacio Hernandez, of Ecuador, with instructions from General Jose de Villamil, planted the Ecuadorian flag on Floreana Island and took possession of what he named officially "Las Islas Galapagos" on behalf of his government.

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According to Galapagos history some sixty years later, in 1892 most of the Islands received a Spanish name, all related to the Discovery of America.

Also we find that in 1835, Charles Darwin sailed on the British ship H.M.S. Beagle and visited the Galapagos Islands.

His writings on the theory of the origin of species, which shook up the scientific world, were inspired by the living proof that he found in this unique volcanic Archipelago.

His observations and studies can be confirmed by all those who choose to make this unforgettable trip to the fascinating mysterious Galapagos.

The Galapagos are located 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador in the pacific ocean, northwest of South America.

In 1936 they were declared a National Park to preserve the flora and fauna of the 13 large islands, 6 minor ones and more than 40 islets.

The origin of the Galapagos Islands is volcanic. The Islands appeared from lava eruptions that came from the bottom of the ocean and that rise as much as 2,600 feet above sea level.

Lava from more than 2,000 craters has continuously altered the terrain of the region.

We see that in Galapagos history, the last significant eruption was in 1825 and since then Isabella Island has shown some volcanic activity.

Variables such as climate, altitude and texture of the land on the Islands, have made their distinct vegetation and animal life appear.

In 1959 the Ecuadorian Government, along with the Charles Darwin Foundation, UNESCO and other scientific internationally recognized organizations, established a biological research station on the Islands.

This facility is also headquarters for visiting scientists from all over the world engaged in special research programs. Part of Galapagos history is also the creation of the official Galapagos Flag in 1961.

If you decide to visit these Islands, this page has already given you a good background on Galapagos History that could be useful for you to understand the uniqueness of these uncommon and Exotic Islands

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides). Click to order from Amazon

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!

There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.


Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. Click to order from Amazon

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.

Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!


Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.

Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!


Moon Spotlight Galapagos. Click to order from Amazon

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.

But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.

Small, well-priced, and reliable!


Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.

This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


More About the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Coffee

Volcano Eruptions in Galapagos

Galapagos Island Tortoises

Galapagos Hammerhead Shark

Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz

Galapagos Islands Location

Economic Galapagos Trips

If you have any questions about Galapagos History, or if you'd like to have more information about our recommended Galapagos Islands Tours to explore this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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