Islands were declared a
National Park in
1959, protecting 97.5% of
the archipelago's land area. The remaining area was set aside for
the three human settlements that existed at that time.
Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people called the islands their
By the 1980s, this
number had dramatically risen to more than 15,000 people. In
1986 the surrounding ocean was declared a marine reserve. UNESCO
recognised the islands as a World Heritage Site in 1978, which was
extended in December 2001 to include the marine reserve.
Foundation dedicated to the conservation of the islands was
founded in Belgium in 1959.