The Galápagos Islands (Official name: Archipiélago de Colón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colónumio or Islas Galápagos, from galápago, 'saddle' after the shells of Saddlebacked Galapagos tortoises) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator, 965 kilometres (about 600 miles) west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.
The Galápagos archipelago, with a population of around 30,000, is a province of Ecuador, a country in northwestern South America. The islands are all part of Ecuadors national park system. The main language on the islands is Spanish.
The islands are located at the Galapagos hotspot (a volcanic hotspot at the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean). It is a place where the earths crust is being melted from below by a mantle plume (an upwelling of abnormally hot rock within the Earths mantle), creating volcanoes. The oldest island is thought to have formed between 5 and 10 million years ago. The youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption in 2007.
The Galapagos Islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and the studies by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle that contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
The capital of Galapagos is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It is located along the southwestern coast of San Cristóbal, the easternmost island in the archipelago. Even though it is the capital, the town has only the second largest population: 5,600 inhabitants, mainly fishermen. The primary industries are artisan fishing, tourism, and arable farming. The town includes an Interpretation Center, but its touristic infrastructure is not as advanced as in Puerto Ayora.
Galapagos consists of 13 main islands, 6 smaller islands and 107 rocks and 42 islets which cover a total area of 7,850 kilometre squared.
Here is an alphabetical list of the main islands, click in each one to find out more about each island: