The most famous visitor to the Galapagos Islands was also the co-author of humankind’s most influential scientific theory. Charles Robert Darwin sailed around the Islands in 1835 as part of a longer voyage around the globe on a Royal Navy vessel named HMS Beagle.
In five weeks, Darwin the young naturalist and his more experienced crewmates landed on just four islands to explore the geology and wildlife. Today known almost universally as Isabela, Santiago, San Cristobal and Floreana, in Darwin’s notes the islands were Albemarle, James, Chatham and Charles islands (the latter after King Charles II, not Darwin).
The abundant and diverse flora/fauna on the Islands (most notably the variety of finches) were the principal source of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. However, it wasn’t until 1858, after Alfred Russel Wallace had written to Darwin about the same idea, that both men jointly published their papers to the scientific community.