In 1535 Tomas de Berlanga discovered
these Islands by accident, when his ship drifted by the islands as
he was sailing from Panama to Peru. They called the Islands "Galapagos" because
of the similarity of the tortoise's shell on a Spanish saddle.
In 1835 the young naturalist Charles Darwin arrived to Galapagos on
the "Beagle" as
part of a trip around the world. Over a 5 week stay Darwin collected
various sample of wildlife. His observations of these unique species
of flora and fauna led to his well- known theory of "natural selection" that
explains how the species on the earth have evolved from a simple, singled-celled
In 1959, on the one hundredth anniversary of publication of The Origin
of Species , the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands
was incorporated in Belgium. In 1960 it began operations in the islands
inaugurateing the "Charles Darwin Station".
Also in this year on July 4th, the Ecuadorian government declared the
Galapagos Islands a National Park and took measures for the conservation
of the animals. Later, the ocean surrounding the islands was declared
a Marine Reserve and placed under the park's jurisdiction as well. In
1978 the UNESCO declared the Islands the world's first World Heritage
Site for its scientific prestige.
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