Puerto del Rosario, once little more than a handful of fishers' cottages, became the island’s capital in 1860 as a result of its strategic position as a harbour.
Until 1956 it was known as Puerto de las Cabras, named after the goats who used to come here for water (and later becoming the main departure point for their export in the form of chops). In an early rebranding exercise, the city was renamed the more dignified Puerto del Rosario (Port of the Rosary).
When Spain pulled out of the Sahara in 1975, it sent some 5000 Legión Extranjera (Foreign Legion) troops to Fuerteventura to keep a watch on North Africa. The huge barracks in Puerto del Rosario is still in use, although troops now number less than 1000.