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The name Tierra del Fuego derives from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailing for the Spanish Crown, who was the first European to visit these lands in 1520. He believed he was seeing the many fires (fuego in Spanish) of the Yaghan, which were visible from the sea and that the "Indians" were waiting in the forests to ambush his armada. Originally called the "Land of Smoke", it was later changed to "Land of Fire".
The very existence of Tierra del Fuego as one or more islands and not as part of Terra Australis was first inferred by Francisco de Hoces in 1525, then by Francis Drake in 1578 and in 1616 by a Dutch VOC expedition who named Cape Horn.
Four native Fuegians, including "Jemmy Button" (Orundellico), were brought from Tierra del Fuego by Robert FitzRoy on his first voyage with the HMS Beagle in 1830. The surviving three were taken to meet the King and Queen in London and were to an extent celebrities. They returned to Tierra del Fuego in the Beagle with FitzRoy and Charles Darwin, who made extensive notes about his visit to the islands.