At different times in its history, people of African, European and Asian origin have come to Seychelles, bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs. The French explorer Lazare Picault was the first to claim Praslin in 1774, calling it "Ile de Palmes" after its fantastic palm tree forest. During that time it was used as a hideaway by pirates and Arab merchants. In 1768 the island was renamed Praslin in honor of French diplomat César Gabriel de Choiseul, Duke of Praslin. After the Napolenoic Wars the British took over in 1801. After visiting, General Gordon (of Khartoum) became convinced Praslin was the original Garden of Eden, developing this theory when he saw the strange female-shaped "Coco de Mer," which he associated with Eve. The Seychelles became an independent republic in 1976 after two hundred years of European colonial rule.