On September 25, 1835, during the HMS Beagle's sojourn to the Galápagos archipelago, Charles Darwin first set foot on what was then known as Charles Island. He found a colony of 200 to 300 inhabitants, nearly all political exiles sent there by Ecuador, aka the “Republic of the Equator,” after a failed coup attempt. The lowlands did not much impress Darwin, with their “leafless thickets,” but after trudging four miles inland and upward to a small, impoverished settlement in the highlands, he found “a green and thriving vegetation,” cultivated with bananas and sweet potatoes, along with a group of islanders who, “although complaining of poverty, obtain, without much trouble, the means of subsistence.” That was mainly because of the tens of thousands of giant tortoises that once prowled these islands. “In the woods,” Darwin noted, almost as an afterthought, “there are many wild pigs and goats.”