History of the Islands

The Galapagos Islands (Archipiélago de Colón) is a natural collection of 18 islands and 107 rocks & islets located west of Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The islands were first discovered in 1535 when Spaniard Fray Tomás de Berlanga drifted off course en route to settle a political dispute in modern day Peru. It is believed that the islands were visited by South Americans before de Berlanga landed but no proof had been found of any permanent human settlement. The islands are most famous for naturalist Charles Darwin's study of the island creatures during The Voyage of the Beagle in 1835. In 1832 Ecuador annexed the islands, making them part of the nation of Ecuador. The islands became a national park in 1959 and are now protected by Ecuadorian preservation laws.