Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 of 21 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, 354 km (220 mi) offshore from the Brazilian coast. The main island has an area of 18.4 square kilometres (7.1 sq mi) and had a population of 3,012 in the year 2010. The area is a special municipality
A municipality is essentially an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. It can also be used to mean the governing body of a municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district...

 (distrito estadual) of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco
Pernambuco is a state of Brazil, located in the Northeast region of the country. To the north are the states of Paraíba and Ceará, to the west is Piauí, to the south are Alagoas and Bahia, and to the east is the Atlantic Ocean. There are about of beaches, some of the most beautiful in the...

 (despite being closer to the state of Rio Grande do Norte
Rio Grande do Norte
Rio Grande do Norte is one of the states of Brazil, located in the northeastern region of the country, occupying the northeasternmost tip of the South American continent. Because of its geographic position, Rio Grande do Norte has a strategic importance. The capital and largest city is Natal...

) and is also a UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. Its timezone is UTC-02:00. The local population and travellers can get to Noronha by plane
Fernando de Noronha Airport
Fernando de Noronha Airport is the airport serving the island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil.-History:Fernando de Noronha is the biggest island of the archipelago with the same name, located on Brazilian territorial waters, away from Recife and away from Natal.The first runway was built in 1934...

 or cruise from Recife
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants, the largest metropolitan area of the North/Northeast Regions, the 5th-largest metropolitan influence area in Brazil, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. The population of the city proper...

 (545 km) or by plane from Natal
Natal, Rio Grande do Norte
-History:The northeastern tip of South America, Cabo São Roque, to the north of Natal and the closest point to Europe from Latin America, was first visited by European navigators in 1501, in the 1501–1502 Portuguese expedition led by Amerigo Vespucci, who named the spot after the saint of the day...

 (360 km). A small environmental preservation fee is charged from tourists upon arrival by Ibama (Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources).


The climate is tropical, with two well-defined seasons. The rainy season lasts from March to September, the rest of the year sees little rain.


The islands of this archipelago are the visible parts of a range of submerged mountains. Consisting of 21 islands, islets and rocks of volcanic origin, the main island has an area of 18 km² (7.1 miles²), being 10 km (6.2 mi) long and 3.5 kilometre wide at its maximum. The base of this enormous volcanic formation is 756 m below the surface. The main island, from which the group gets its name, makes up 91% of the total area; the islands of Rata, Sela Gineta, Cabeluda and São Jose, together with the islets of Leão and Viúva make up the rest. The central upland of the main island is called the Quixaba.


The island was covered in forest until the 19th century, when it was cleared to prevent prisoners on the island from building rafts. The islands are now predominantly covered by shrubs, with some areas of recently planted secondary forest. Many of the plants on the island today were introduced by people.

The United Nations Environment Programme lists 15 possible endemic plant species, including species of the genera Capparis
Capparis is a flowering plant genus in the family Capparaceae which is included in the Brassicaceae in the unrevised APG II system. These plants are shrubs or lianas and are collectively known as caper shrubs or caperbushes...

, (2 species) Ceratosanthes (3 species), Cayaponias (2 species), Moriordica, Cereus
Cereus is a genus of cactus. The term cereus is also used to describe cacti with very elongated bodies, including columnar growth cacti and epiphytic cacti...

, Palicourea
Palicourea is a plant genus in the family Rubiaceae. It contains about 200 species, which range in habit from shrubs to small trees, and is distributed throughout the New World tropics....

, Guettarda
Guettarda is a plant genus in the family Rubiaceae. Most of these plants are known by the common name Velvetseed. Estimates of the number of species range from about 50 to 162. Most of the species are neotropical. Twenty are found in New Caledonia and one reaches Australia...

, Bumelia, Physalis
Physalis is a genus of plants in the nightshade family , native to warm temperate and subtropical regions throughout the world. The genus is characterised by the small orange fruit similar in size, shape and structure to a small tomato, but partly or fully enclosed in a large papery husk derived...

, and Ficus noronhae. Combretum rupicola is also a likely endemic.


The islands have two endemic birds
Endemism in birds
An endemic bird area is a region of the world that contains two or more restricted-range species, while a "secondary area" contains one or more restricted-range species. Both terms were devised by Birdlife International....

 — the Noronha Elaenia
Noronha Elaenia
The Noronha Elaenia is a species of bird in the Tyrannidae family.It is endemic to Fernando de Noronha, Brazil. It was formerly considered a subspecies of the Large Elaenia....

 (Elaenia ridleyana) and the Noronha Vireo
Noronha Vireo
The Noronha Vireo is a species of bird in the Vireonidae family. It is endemic to the island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil. It is found in woodland, shrubland and gardens. It resembles the Chivi Vireo, but its plumage is significantly duller and the bill longer.-References:* BirdLife...

 (Vireo gracilirostris). Both are present on the main island; Noronha Vireo is also present on Ilha Rata. In addition there is an endemic race of Eared Dove
Eared Dove
The Eared Dove, Zenaida auriculata, is a New World tropical dove. It is a resident breeder throughout South America from Colombia to southern Argentina and Chile, and on the offshore islands from the Grenadines southwards. It may be a relatively recent colonist of Tobago and Trinidad...

 Zenaida auriculata noronha. An endemic sigmodontine
The subfamily Sigmodontinae is one of the most diverse groups of mammals. It includes New World rats and mice, with at least 376 species. Many authorities include the Neotominae and Tylomyinae as part of a larger definition of Sigmodontinae. When those genera are included, the species count...

 rodent, Noronhomys vespuccii, mentioned by Amerigo Vespucci, is now extinct. The islands have two endemic reptiles, Amphisbaena ridleyi
Amphisbaena ridleyi
Amphisbaena ridleyi, known by the common names Ridley's worm lizard or the Noronha worm lizard, is a species of amphisbaenian in the genus Amphisbaena that is endemic to the island of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Brazil...

and Trachylepis atlantica.

Marine life

The life above and below sea is the main attraction of the island. Sea tortoises, dolphins, albatrosses and many other species are frequently observed.


Many controversies mark the discovery of the archipelago by Europeans. At least three names - São Lourenço, São João, and Quaresma - have been associated with the island around the time of its discovery.

Based on the written record, Fernando de Noronha island was discovered on August 10, 1503, by a Portuguese
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

 expedition, organized and financed by a private commercial consortium headed by the Lisbon merchant Fernão de Loronha. The expedition was under the overall command of captain Gonçalo Coelho
Gonçalo Coelho
Gonçalo Coelho was a Portuguese explorer who belonged to a prominent family in northern Portugal. He commanded two expeditions which explored much of the coast of Brazil....

 and carried the Italian adventurer Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer. The Americas are generally believed to have derived their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.-Expeditions:...

 aboard, who wrote an account of it. The flagship of the expedition hit a reef and foundered near the island, and the crew and contents had to be salvaged. On Coelho's orders, Vespucci anchored at the island, and spent a week there, while the rest of the Coelho fleet went on south. In his letter to Soderini, Vespucci describes the uninhabited island and reports its name as the "island of St. Lawrence" (August 10 is the feast day of St. Lawrence; it was a custom of Portuguese explorations to name locations by the liturgical calendar).

Its existence was reported back to Lisbon sometime between then and January 16, 1504, when King Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I , the Fortunate , 14th king of Portugal and the Algarves was the son of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, , by his wife, Infanta Beatrice of Portugal...

 issued a charter granting the "island of St. John" (São João) as a hereditary captaincy to Fernão de Loronha. The date and new name in the charter has presented historians with a puzzle. As Vespucci did not return to Lisbon until September, 1504, the discovery must have been earlier. Historians have hypothesized that a stray ship of the Coelho fleet, under an unknown captain, may have returned to the island (prob. on August 29, 1503, feast day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist
Beheading of St. John the Baptist
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is a holy day observed by various Christian churches which follow liturgical traditions...

) to collect Vespucci, did not find him or anyone else there, and went back to Lisbon by himself with the news. (Vespucci in his letter, claims he left the island August 18, 1503 and upon his arrival in Lisbon a year later, on September 7, 1504, the people of Lisbon were surprised, as they "had been told" (presumably by the earlier captain?) that his ship had been lost.) The captain who returned to Lisbon with the news (and the St. John name) is unknown. (some have speculated this captain was Loronha himself, the chief financier of this expedition, but that is highly unlikely.)
This account, reconstructed from the written record, is severely marred by the cartographic record. An island, named Quaresma, looking very much like Fernando de Noronha island, appears in the Cantino planisphere
Cantino planisphere
The Cantino planisphere is the earliest surviving map showing Portuguese Discoveries in the east and west. It is named after Alberto Cantino, an agent for the Duke of Ferrara, who successfully smuggled it from Portugal to Italy in 1502...

. The Cantino map was composed by an anonymous Portuguese cartographer, and completed before November 1502, well before the Coelho expedition even set out. This has led to speculation that the island was discovered by a previous expedition. However there is no consensus on which expedition that might have been. The name, "Quaresma" means Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

, suggesting it must have been discovered in March or early April, which does not correspond well with the known expeditions. There is also a mysterious red island to the left of Quaresma in the Cantino map that does not fit with Fernando de Noronha island. Some have explained these anomalies away by reading quaresma as anaresma (meaning unknown, but sidesteps the Lent timing), and proposing that the red island is just an accidental inkblot.

Assuming Quaresma is indeed Fernando de Noronha, then who discovered it? One proposal is that it was discovered by a royal Portuguese mapping expedition that was sent out in May, 1501, commanded by an unknown captain (possibly André Gonçalves
André Gonçalves
André Gonçalves , Portuguese explorer that accompanied Pedro Álvares Cabral in the discovery of Brazil. Gonçalves was one of Cabral's captains of the fleet. According to some sources he was sent back to Lisbon with important news and not Gaspar de Lemos ....

) and also accompanied by Amerigo vespucci. According to Vespucci, this expedition returned to Lisbon in September 1502, just on time to influence the final composition of the Cantino map. Unfortunately, Vespucci does not report discovering this island then - indeed he is quite clear that the first time he (and his fellow sailors) saw the island was on the 1503 Coelho expedition. However, there is a letter written by an Italian saying that a ship arrived "from the land of Parrots" in Lisbon on July 22, 1502 (three months before Vespucci). This could be a stray ship from the mapping expedition that returned prematurely, or another expedition altogether, about which we have no information. The timing of its reputed arrival (July, 1502), makes it possible that it stumbled on the island sometime in March 1502, on the homeward voyage, well within Lent.

A third possible (but unlikely) theory is that the island was discovered already in 1500, shortly after the discovery of Brazil by the Second India Armada
2nd Portuguese India Armada (Cabral, 1500)
The Second Portuguese India Armada was assembled in 1500 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral. Cabral's armada famously discovered Brazil for the Portuguese crown along the way...

 under Pedro Alvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

. After his brief landfall at Porto Seguro
Porto Seguro
Porto Seguro is a municipality in the Brazilian state of Bahia. It is the site where the Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral first set foot on Brazilian soil on April 22, 1500...

, Cabral dispatched a supply ship under either Gaspar de Lemos
Gaspar de Lemos
Gaspar de Lemos , Portuguese explorer and captain of the supply ship of Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet that discovered Brazil. Sent back to Portugal with news of their discovery, he was credited by the Viscount of Santarém as having discovered the Fernando de Noronha archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean....

 or André Gonçalves
André Gonçalves
André Gonçalves , Portuguese explorer that accompanied Pedro Álvares Cabral in the discovery of Brazil. Gonçalves was one of Cabral's captains of the fleet. According to some sources he was sent back to Lisbon with important news and not Gaspar de Lemos ....

  (sources conflict) back to Lisbon, to report the discovery. This returning supply ship would have returned north along the Brazilian coast and might have come across Fernando de Noronha island, and reported its existence in Lisbon by July, 1500. However, this contradicts the Quaresma name, since the returning supply ship was sailing well after Lent.

A fourth (but also unlikely) possibility is that it was discovered by the Third India Armada
3rd Portuguese India Armada (Nova, 1501)
The Third India Armada was assembled in 1501 on the order of King Manuel I of Portugal and placed under the command of João da Nova. Nova's armada was relatively small and primarily commercial in objective. Nonetheless, they engaged the first significant Portuguese naval battle in the Indian Ocean...

 of João da Nova
João da Nova
João da Nova , Xoán de Novoa or Joam de Nôvoa galician spellings, Juan de Nova, Spanish spelling, was a Galician explorer of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at the service of Portugal...

, which set out from Lisbon in March or April 1501, and arrived back on September 1502, also in time to influence the Cantino map. Chronicler Gaspar Correia
Gaspar Correia
Gaspar Correia or Gaspar Corrêa was a Portuguese historian, author of "Lendas da Índia , one of the earliest and most important works about Portuguese rule in Asia, being referred to as a Portuguese Polybius.- Biography :There is little information about the life of the author...

 asserts that on the outward voyage, the Third Armada made a stop on the Brazilian coast around Cape Santo Agostinho
Cabo de Santo Agostinho
Cabo de Santo Agostinho is 35 km south of the city of Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Although the official Portuguese discovery of Brazil was by Pedro Cabral on April 21, 1500, some historians believe that Vicente Yáñez Pinzón already had set anchor in a bay in Cabo de Santo Agostinho on January...

.. Two other chroniclers (João de Barros
João de Barros
João de Barros , called the Portuguese Livy, is one of the first great Portuguese historians, most famous for his Décadas da Ásia , a history of the Portuguese in India and Asia.-Early years:...

 and Damião de Góis
Damião de Góis
Damiao de Góis , born in Alenquer, Portugal, was an important Portuguese humanist philosopher. He was a friend and student of Erasmus. He was appointed secretary to the Portuguese factory in Antwerp in 1523 by King John III of Portugal...

) do not mention a landfall, but do report they discovered an island (which they believe to be identified as Ascension island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

, but this is not certain). So it is possible that the Third Armada may indeed have discovered Fernando de Noronha island on their outward leg. However, the timing is very tight: Easter landed on April 11, 1501, while the estimated departure date of the Third Armada from Lisbon ranges from March 5 to April 15, not leaving enough time to reach those environs within Lent.

As a result of these anomalies, some modern historians have proposed that Fernando de Noronha is not depicted on the 1502 Cantino map at all. Instead, they have proposed that Quaresma island and the accompanying red "inkblot" are in fact the Rocas Atoll
Rocas Atoll
The Rocas Atoll is an atoll in the Atlantic Ocean, belonging to the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Norte. It is located approximately northeast of Natal and west of the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. The atoll is of volcanic origin and coralline formation.-Description:The oval atoll is ...

, slightly misplaced on the map. This reserves the discovery of Fernando de Noronha island itself as indeed on August 10, 1503, by the Gonçalo Coelho expedition, as originally reported by Vespucci.

The transition of the name from "São João" to "Fernando de Noronha" was probably just natural usage. A royal letter dated May 20, 1559, to descendants of the Loronha family, still refers to the island by its official name of ilha de São João., but already in other places, e.g. the logbook of Martim Afonso de Sousa
Martim Afonso de Sousa
Martim Afonso de Sousa was a Portuguese fidalgo and explorer.Born in Vila Viçosa, he was commander of the first official Portuguese expedition into mainland Brazil...

 in the 1530s, it was referred to as the "island of Fernão de Noronha" ("Noronha" being a common mis-spelling of "Loronha"). The informal name eventually displaced the official name.


The Lisbon merchant Fernão de Loronha held not only Fernando de Noronha island as a hereditary captaincy but also (from 1503 to around 1512) a commercial monopoly on trade in Brazil. Between 1503 and 1512, Loronha's agents set up a string of warehouses (feitorias) along the Brazilian coast, and engaged in trade with the indigenous peoples in Brazil
Indigenous peoples in Brazil
The Indigenous peoples in Brazil comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups who inhabited the country prior to the European invasion around 1500...

 for brazilwood
Caesalpinia echinata is a species of Brazilian timber tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. Common names include Brazilwood, Pau-Brasil, Pau de Pernambuco and Ibirapitanga . This plant has a dense, orange-red heartwood that takes a high shine, and it is the premier wood used for making bows for...

, a native red dye wood highly valued by European clothmakers. Fernando de Noronha island was the central collection point of this network. Brazilwood, continuously harvested by the coastal indians and delivered to the various coastal warehouses, was shipped to the central warehouse on Fernando de Noronha island, which was intermittently visited by a larger transport ship that would carry the collected loads back to Europe. After the expiration of Loronha's commercial charter in 1512, the organization of the brazilwood enterprise was taken over by the Portuguese crown, but Loronha and his descendents retained private ownership of Fernando de Noronha island itself as a hereditary captaincy
A captaincy is a historical administrative division of the former Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires. Each was governed by a captain general.-In the Portuguese Empire:...

, at least down to the 1560s.

In 1534, Fernando de Noronha island was invaded by the English, and from 1556 until 1612, it was held by the French. In 1628, it was occupied by the Dutch, who were displaced two years later by a Spanish-Portuguese military expedition led by Rui Calaza Borges. The Dutch built a fort on the site of the present ruins of the Forte de Remedios. The Dutch occupied the island once again in 1635, making it a hospital for their troops who occupied northeastern Brazil (the Brazilian coast between Rio São Francisco and Maranhão). The island became known as Pavonia
Pavonia may refer to:biota:*Pavonia , a moth genus*Pavonia pavonia, "emperor moth", a moth species*Pavonia , a plant genus in the family Malvaceaeplaces:...

, in honor of Michiel de Pauw
Michael Reyniersz Pauw
Knight Michiel Reiniersz Pauw was a burgermeester of Amsterdam and a director of the Dutch West India Company...

, one of the directors of the Dutch West Indies Company. It would remain under Dutch control for nearly twenty years, when it was reconquered by Portugal. In 1654, the last fort of the Dutch surrendered to the Portuguese, marking the end of the Dutch era in north-east Brazil.


Finding it uninhabited and completely abandoned in 1736, the French East Indies Company took the island and renamed it Isle Dauphine.

Only from 1737 on, after the expulsion of the French, was Fernando de Noronha definitively occupied by Portugal. This time it was decided to fortify the island. For this purpose, ten forts were built in all strategic points where a possibility of disembarkation existed; nine in the main island and one in the Ilha de São José situated in front of the Saint Anthony harbor. The forts were connected by a network of stone roads. This defense system was planned by the Portuguese military engineer Diogo da Silveira Veloso. Around 1770, the first permanent settlement, Vila dos Remédios, was founded. The village was divided in two units (pátios); in the superior one were the administrative buildings, in the lower one the church and the associated religious buildings.

When Brazil became independent in 1822, very little changed for Fernando de Noronha. In 1832, the island was visited by an expedition which included Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

. His experiences on Fernando de Noronha were recorded in his journal, later published as The Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle is a title commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin and published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, bringing him considerable fame and respect...



In the late 18th century, the first prisoners were sent to Fernando de Noronha. A prison was built. In 1897 the government of the state of Pernambuco took possession of the prison. Between 1938 and 1945, Fernando de Noronha was a political prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

. The former governor of Pernambuco, Miguel Arraes, was incarcerated there. In 1957 the prison was closed and the archipelago was visited by President Juscelino Kubitschek.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the British arrived to provide technical cooperation in telegraphy
Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of messages via some form of signalling technology. Telegraphy requires messages to be converted to a code which is known to both sender and receiver...

 (The South American Company). Later the French came with the French Cable and the Italians with Italcable.

In 1942, during World War II, the archipelago was made a Federal Territory
Federal Territory
The Federal Territories in Malaysia comprise three territories: Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, governed directly by the federal government of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital of Malaysia, Putrajaya is the administrative capital, and Labuan is an offshore international financial...

 that also included Rocas Atoll
Rocas Atoll
The Rocas Atoll is an atoll in the Atlantic Ocean, belonging to the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Norte. It is located approximately northeast of Natal and west of the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. The atoll is of volcanic origin and coralline formation.-Description:The oval atoll is ...

 and Saint Peter and Paul Rocks
Saint Peter and Paul Rocks
The Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago is a group of 15 small islets and rocks in the central equatorial Atlantic Ocean. It lies in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a region of severe storms...

, and political and ordinary prisoners were sent to the local prison. An airport was constructed in September 1942 by the United States Army Air Force Air Transport Command
Air Transport Command
Air Transport Command is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its mission was to meet the urgent demand for the speedy reinforcement of the United States' military bases worldwide during World War II, using an air supply system to supplement surface transport...

 Natal-Dakar air route, which provided a transoceanic link between Brazil and French West Africa
French West Africa
French West Africa was a federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan , French Guinea , Côte d'Ivoire , Upper Volta , Dahomey and Niger...

 for cargo, transiting aircraft and personnel. It was transferred to the jurisdiction of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 on 5 September 1944.

In 1988, approximately 70% of the archipelago was declared a maritime national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

, with the goal of preserving the land and sea environment. On October 5, 1988, the Federal Territory was dissolved and added to the state of Pernambuco (except Rocas Atoll, which was added to the state of Rio Grande do Norte).

Nowadays, Fernando de Noronha's economy depends on tourism, restricted by the limitations of its delicate ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

. In addition to the historical interest noted above, the archipelago has been the subject of the attention of various scientists dedicated to the study of its flora, fauna, geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

, etc. The jurisdiction is considered to be a separate "entity" for the DX Century Club
DX Century Club
The DX Century Club, or DXCC, is an amateur radio operating award earned by making contact with 100 or more geographic entities around the world....

, and so is visited rather often by amateur radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...


In 2001, UNESCO declared Fernando de Noronha, with Rocas Atoll, a World Heritage Site. The reasons for this were a) the island's importance as a feeding ground for several species, including tuna, billfish, cetaceans, sharks, and marine turtles, b) a high population of resident dolphins and c) protection for endangered species, such as the hawksbill turtle and various birds.

Fernando de Noronha Airport
Fernando de Noronha Airport
Fernando de Noronha Airport is the airport serving the island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil.-History:Fernando de Noronha is the biggest island of the archipelago with the same name, located on Brazilian territorial waters, away from Recife and away from Natal.The first runway was built in 1934...

 is served by daily flights from Recife and Natal on the Brazilian coast.

Conservation and environmental threats

Most of the original vegetation was cut down in the 19th century, when the island was used as a prison, to keep the prisoners from hiding and making rafts.

Also, invasive species have been introduced:
  • Linseed, intended for use as cattle feed.
  • Tegu
    Tupinambis is a lizard genus which belongs to the family Teiidae, and contains seven described species. These large, South American lizards are commonly referred to as tegus; Tupinambis merianae , Tupinambis rufescens , and Tupinambis teguixin are all common in...

     lizards (Tupinambis merianae, locally known as teju) introduced in the 1950s to control a rat infestation. Ironically, that did not work out, because Tegus are diurnal and rats, nocturnal. Now the lizards themselves are considered a plague, feeding mostly on bird eggs.
  • Rock Cavies
    Rock Cavy
    The rock cavy or mocó, Kerodon rupestris, is a cavy species endemic to eastern Brazil, from eastern Piauí state to Minas Gerais state...

     (Kerodon rupestris, locally known as mocó) introduced by the military in the 1960s as hunting game for soldiers.

Economic indicators

Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

Population (2010) GDP (2007)x1000 R$ % PE GDP pc R$ Hostels/pousadas beds (2006)
0.862 3,012 20,901 0.034% 7,462 1,492

The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha in 2005 had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of R$ 22,802,000 and a per capita income of R$ 10,001. The Human Development Index (HDI) district's state was estimated at 0.862 (PNUD/2000). In the archipelago there is only one branch, agency, it is #576 of Banco Real
Banco Real
Banco Real was a Brazilian bank, owned by Spain's Banco Santander. ABN AMRO had owned the bank but in October 2007, a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland that also included Banco Santander and Belgium's Fortis, acquired ABN AMRO and proceeded to dismember it...



The beaches of Fernando de Noronha are promoted for tourism: Fernando de Noronha is a place for recreational diving. With warm waters around it, diving to depths of 30 to 40 meters can be done without using a wetsuit. The visibility underwater can reach up to 50 meters due to South equatorial current
South Equatorial Current
The South Equatorial Current is a significant Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean current that flows east-to-west between the equator and about 20 degrees south. In the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, it extends across the equator to about 5 degrees north....

 that pushes water from Africa to the island across more than 2,000 km. Moreover, the archipelago has points of free diving.

External links

Official website

Tourism A photo tour of the island/ Tourist information provided by a local resident Fernando de Noronha-Atol das Rocas moist forests (WWF) Audio interview with Fernando de Noronha resident about life on Fernando de Noronha Extensive list of Fernando de Noronha pousadas bookable online

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