Fray Tomas de Berlanga, a bishop in Panama, discovered the Galapagos archipelago by chance. An era of buccaneers and whalers followed in the 17th and 18th centuries. Immigration began after Ecuador placed the archipelago under its dominion. Charles Darwin, a knowledgeable youth of England embarked on the H.M.S Beagle and arrived in 1835. He surveyed organisms there to bring home collected specimens. He later published °»the Voyages of the H.M.S. Beagle°… (1845) and °»The Origin of Species°… (1859), which widely popularized the unique biota of the Galapagos in the world. The Galapagos attracted attention as the islands of organic evolution and were visited by many scientific exploration teams from Europe and North America.

UNESCO surveyed, and reported on, the archipelago in 1958 after World War II, and proposed the protection of the islands. Ecuador designated 97% of the terrestrial area of the archipelago as a national park in 1959. The Charles Darwin Foundation was established in Europe and it built the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora on the south shore of Santa Cruz in 1964. Since then, the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station have been working to conserve the natural environment and biological diversity. UNESCO designated the Galapagos the first Natural World Heritage site in 1978. The surrounding sea regions were designated a marine reserve in 1986, which was expanded in 1998 and included into the World Heritage site in 2001. Tourism based on eco tourism is the main economic activity now. Visitors, material inflow, increased numbers of exotic organisms, and the increased human population have created new issues with respect to the conservation of the environment and biodiversity.

Only the following four islands are inhabited by humans: San Cristobal (the central regions of residence being Baquerizo Moreno along the shore and Progreso in the inland), Floreana (Playa Negra along the shore and Asiro de La Paz inland), Santa Cruz (Puerto Ayora along the shore and Bella Vista and Santa Rosa inland), and the Sierra Negra Volcano of Isabella (Villamil along the shore and Santo Tomas inland).

 


Charles Darwin
Research Station
CDRS
(Exhibition hall)
National Park
Service
Ecotour scenery Town