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Fernando de Noronha

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Fernando de Noronha (Brazilian Portuguese: [feʁˈnɐ̃du d(ʒ)i noˈɾoɲɐ]) is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, part of the State of Pernambuco, Brazil, and located 354 km (220 mi) offshore from the Brazilian coast. It consists of 21 islands and islets, extending over an area of 26 km2 (10 sq mi). Only the eponymous main island is inhabited; it has an area of 18.4 km2 (7.1 sq mi) and a population estimated at 3,101 in 2020.

The islands are administratively unique in Brazil. They form a “state district” (Portuguese: distrito estadual) that is administered directly by the government of the state of Pernambuco (despite being closer to the state of Rio Grande do Norte). The state district’s jurisdiction also includes the very remote Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, located 625 km (388 mi) northeast of Fernando de Noronha. 70% of the islands’ area was established in 1988 as a national marine park.

In 2001, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site because of its importance as a feeding ground for tuna, sharks, turtles, and marine mammals.  Its time zone is UTC−02:00 all year round.

Fernando de Noronha’s occupation dates to the early 16th century. Due to its geographical position, the archipelago was one of the first lands sighted in the New World, being shown in a nautical chart in 1500 by the Spanish cartographer Juan de La Cosa, and in 1502 by the Portuguese Alberto Cantino, in the latter with the name “Quaresma”.

Based on the written record, Fernando de Noronha island was discovered on August 10, 1503, by a Portuguese 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 and carried the Italian adventurer Amerigo Vespucci 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). Wikipedia

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An image from Fernando de Noronha

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