Contadora was the island where the Spanish counted the pearls that were harvested from the other islands in the archipelago, hence the name of the island, which means "the one that counts" in Spanish. The islands produced pearls of many colors and sizes, and during the many years when pearls were harvested from the waters around the islands, the natives would converge to Contadora to count their pearls and sell them to the Spaniards. Early last century there was an underwater epidemic which killed most of the pearl oysters, reducing the production of pearls to a dribble.
In 1980, the exiled Iranian shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, briefly lived in Contadora.
The Contadora Peace Accords, which laid the foundation for peace in Central America, were negotiated in this island during the 1980s. Hence the Contadora Group took their name from the island's name.