The Galapagos Islands are a unique archipelago of 19 volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean on either side of the Equator, 563 miles (906 km) west of the continent of Ecuador, of which they are a province.
Interesting history tidbits
A. The three major tectonic plates of Nazca, Pacific and Cocos meet at the basis of the ocean. Isabela and Fernandina, the largest and youngest islands, have less than one million years of existence while Española and San Cristóbal, the oldest islands, are between three and five million years old!
B. The first visit to the islands was recorded in 1535 when Bishop de Berlanga’s ship was blown off its course. He eventually went back to the Spanish Empire and told of the islands and its animals.
C. The islands were shown and named in an atlas published in 1570. The first crude map was made in 1684 by Ambrose Cowley, a buccaneer who named the islands for his fellow pirates and for British noblemen and royalty.
More about the islands
The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and 97 percent of the total emerged surface was declared a National Park in 1959. There was a population of 26,640 as of 2012 on the only four islands that are inhabited, and the people must live in specifically zoned rural and urban areas.
Galapagos Marine Reserve
This biological marine reserve, a protected area under the responsibility of the Galapagos National Park Service. The Reserve surrounds the islands and is one of the world’s largest. It includes inland waters as well as all those waters contained within 40 nautical miles measured from the outermost coastal islands and provides important clues about species evolution under the ever-changing conditions.
You could be one of the approximate 170,000 tourists that visit these islands each year to marvel at the geography, the ongoing volcanic areas, and the wildlife spectacle both underwater and on land. There are abundant numbers of sharks, 12 native terrestrial mammals, the most northerly species of penguins, 36 reptile species, mockingbirds, seabirds, species of finch that were the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution after he visited in 1835, giant tortoises, land snails, lizards, the only marine iguanas in the world, sea lions, and more.
Flora includes giant daisy trees, huge cacti, and native flora including approximately 500 vascular plant species.
Do visit the Galapagos Islands and enjoy a ‘living museum’ that is also a ‘showcase of evolution’.