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Galapagos > History

Galapagos history


Galapagos, Girl with the sea lionCharles Darwin was the first to make a scientific study of the islands. He was a young student just out of university and was the naturalist on a round-the-world scientific and geographical voyage on board the HMS Beagle (1831 - 1836).

Darwin reached the Galapagos on September 15 1835 and spent about five weeks, until October 20, studying the geology and biology on four of the thirteen islands. It was here that he began to develop his theories of evolution.

During WWII Ecuador authorized the United States to establish a naval base in Baltra Island and radar stations in other strategic locations.

Galapagos history, Charles DarwinIn 1959, with funds raised from various scientists and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) the Charles Darwin Research Center was established. That same year, Ecuador declared the Galapagos a National Park and 95% of the archipelago was protected.

Organized tourism began in the mid-60s with a little over 1,000 visitors a year, a number which has increased ten-fold over the decades with an estimated 60,000 tourists visiting the islands in 1991.

UNESCO recognised the islands as a World Heritage Site in 1978, which was extended in December 2001 to include the marine reserve. The Charles Darwin Foundation dedicated to the conservation of the islands was founded in Belgium in 1959.

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