The occupation of Fernando de Noronha is almost so old as the occupation of the mainland. Due to its geographic position, the archipelago was one of the first found territories in the New World. It was recorded in a nautical chart in the year 1500 by the spanish cartographer Juan de La Cosa and in the year 1502 by the portuguese Alberto Cantino, in this case with the name of "Quaresma".
Noronha has more than
"The paradise is here" said Américo Vespúcio as he boarded that desert island on August 10, 1503, soon after the wreck of the main expedition ship. The letter he wrote, the LETTERA, is the first document regarding the island, named São Lourenço, and reports about "infinite water and infinite trees; very gentle fowl, which eat from the hands; a very good harbour, which was very good for the whole crew". In 1504 the island was donated to Fernão de Loronha, as he financed the expedition. It was the first Hereditary Land Division of Brazil, but it was never occupied by its donee.
Forsaken for over two centuries and situated in the big navigation routes, the island was boarded by many people and was temporarily occupied by the Dutch (which called it "Pavônia" - see History of Pernambuco) in the 17th century and by the French (which baptized it as "Ile Delphine") in the 18th century.
To defend the island from
In the same period the Archipelago was transformed in a Common Prison for condemned to long punishments (banishments). These condemned provided the workmanship for buildings and the roads and ways system for interconnecting villages and forts. The inhuman regime included also confinement cells and even stone beds in which the prisoner almost couldn't turn around himself.
Famous scientists visited the archipelalgo in different periods, like the naturalist Charles Darwin, father of the Species Evolution Theory, in 1832 (see reports of Charles Darwin in Noronha). All of them were attracted by the great biodiversity and made surveys about the environment, producing remarkable studies. Also in the 19th century, world reknowned artists, like the French Debret and Laissaly, were invited by the Emperor D. Pedro II to register the human presence in paintings.
In 1938 the archipelago was transferred to the Federal Government for the installation of a Political Prison. In 1942, during World War II, the Military Federal Territory was created, together with the Mixed Detachment of War and the alliance with the North American Navy, which installed a Support Base with about 300 men.
Over the centuries,
At this period, a population of over 3.000 soldiers required the construction of prefabricated houses. Between 1942 and 1988 the island was administrated by the armed forces: the Army up to 1981; the Air Force up to 1986; and the General Staff up to 1987. Still as a federal territory the island was subordinated to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the only period with a Civil Governor. This was between 1957 e 1965, when a new american presence at the Missile Observation Station ocurred.