Galapagos history

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Galapagos Islands history


The Galapagos were discovered by chance in March 10, 1535 when Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama, sailed to Peru to settle a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and his lieutenants after the conquest of the Incas.

The bishop's ship stalled when the winds died and strong currents carried him out to the Galapagos.

Galapagos history, Statue of Fray Thomas de Berlanga

In his account of the adventure, addressed to Emperor Carlos V, Berlanga described the harsh, desert-like condition of the islands and their trademark giant tortoises. He wrote about the marine iguanas, the sea lions and the many types of birds.

He also noted the remarkable tameness of the animals that continues to thrill and delight modern visitors.

The islands were uninhabited, although Thor Heyerdahl in 1963 reported findings of pottery of South American origin that suggested earlier contacts, a theory that appears to still be controversial.

The archipelago was used as hiding place by the English pirates that pilfered the Spanish galleons carrying gold and silver from South America to Spain.

The islands first appeared on maps in about 1570 in those drawn by Abraham Ortelius and Mercator. The islands were called "Insulae de los Galopegos" (Islands of the Tortoises).

The first English to visit Galapagos was Richard Hawkins, in 1593. From that time until 1816 many famous pirates visited the archipelago.

Galapagos Islands history
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