Thursday, March 16, 2006

Human History of the Galapagos


Human History of the Galapagos. This site has an essay which chronicles the history of humans on the islands. It begins with speculation of an Incan visit in the 1400's although it concludes that there is no evidence for such a visit.

Much to my surprise, Darwin is barely mentioned at all. I guess I had ignorantly thought the visit by Charles Darwin was one of the most significant events in the history of the islands. At least that event is mentioned on the part about the Galapagos National Park being founded in 1959.

One interesting tidbit I picked up is that the Galapagos were administered during World War Two by the USA. There was fear that the Japanese would take the island and threaten the Panama Canal Zone. After the war, Ecuador regained control over the islands.

Other good sites on this topic are History of Galapagos Islands, Natural History of the Galapagos Islands, and A Brief History of the Galapagos Islands.

From the site:

Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama documented the officially first visit to the islands in 1535. Delegated to investigate the accounts of the barbaric actions of the conquistadors in what is now Peru, his ship, caught in a dead calm, drifted westward in the ocean currents. With water sources depleted, the Bishop and crew searched the new islands for fresh water, almost entirely in vain. Frustrated, and suffering, the men resorted to crewing the native cactus for water. Disenchanted, they left the islands, but not without sending word to King Carlos V of Spain, telling of the strange and foolishly tame wildlife and the numerous galapagos (giant tortoises), and the name stuck. The islands appeared on the map late in the 16th century as the "Insulae de los Galopegos."

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