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Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands History Timeline

Galapagos Islands timeline
  • (1535) Islands discovered by Tomas de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama
  • (1570) Cartographer, Abraham Ortelius, plotted the Islands, named them the Isolas de Galapagos (Islands of the Tortoises)
  • (1593) English captain, Richard Hawkins, visited the Islands
  • (1700's) Pirates used Islands as hideout for looting Spanish ships
  • (1790) Sicilian captain, Allesandro Malaspina, completed first scientific mission to Islands
  • (1792) First whaling ship arrived from Britain
  • (1793) James Colnett, British Royal Navy, described flora and fauna of Galapagos, drew first accurate navigation charts of the Islands
  • (1793) First post office (the post barrel) was erected at Floreana
  • (1807 - 1809) Patrick Watkins, Irish sailor, marooned on Floreana
  • (1813) U.S. Frigate, Essex, captured 12 British whaling vessels
  • (1813) Lt. John S. Cowan killed in duel, buried near James Bay
  • (1825) Capt. Benjamin Morell, crew barely survived eruption of Fernandina volcano
  • (1832) Ecuador officially annexed the Galapagos, renamed Archipielago del Ecuador; General Jose de Villamil first governor, established penal settlment on Floreana
  • (1835) Charles Darwin spent five weeks in Galapagos, studied origin of island, biological diversity
  • (1837) General Villamil resigned as governor, succeeded by Colonel Jose Williams
  • (1841) Herman Melville visited Galapagos Islands
  • (1841) People of Floreana revolted against governor Williams, he and supporters fled the island
  • (1869) Manuel Cobos began sugar-refining operation at El Progresso on San Cristobal, used prisoners as labor
  • (1892) Ecuador renamed islands Archipielego de Colon
  • (1897) Antonio Gil founded Santo Tomas on Isabela, began lime production operations
  • (1904) Manuel Cobos assassinated by workers due to harsh treatment
  • (1906 - 1907) Delegation of California Academy of Sciences arrived to conduct ornithological study
  • (1920's - 1930's ) European settlers arrived in the Islands
  • (1934) Galapagos declared national reserve
  • (1941) US built military base at Baltra
  • (1946) US transferred military base to Ecuadorian government
  • (1949) Earthquake in Ambato, Ecuador ceased migration to Galapagos Islands


  • (1959) Ecuadorian government declared all unsetttled areas in the Galapagos Islands national parks
  • (1959) Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands founded
  • (1964) Charles Darwin Research Station completed
  • (1966) International tourism launched
  • (1973) Galpagos Islands became province of Ecuador
  • (1978) Galapagos Islands became UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • (1984) Galapagos included in network of over 100 countries in International Man and Biosphere Program
  • (1986) Galapagos Marine Reserve second largest marine reserve in the world
  • (1992) Ministry of Tourism created
  • (1999) Special Law for Galapagos established - regulated residence, reduced inward migration
  • (2000) Ecuador switched from local sucre currency to US dollar
  • (2001) Ecological disaster caused by wreck of fuel carrier, Jessica, in Wreck Bay
  • (2007) UNESCO confirmed serious environmental threats to Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve
  • (2008) Galapagos Invasive Species account received US $1.29 million for management of invasive species
  • (2010) Galapagos Islands removed from UNESCO endangered list
  • (2010) Fishermen found dozen bombs from WWII between Bartolome and Baltra Islands

Galapagos Islands Photographs

map of Galapagos Islands

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locator map of Galapagos Islands

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Herman MelvilleAlejandro MalaspinaEcuadorAbraham OrteliusCharles Darwin