The Galapagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands which lay in the Pacific Ocean close to the Equator line. The Galapagos Islands nearest mainland, Ecuador, lies 600 miles (970 kilometres) to the East. The Galapagos archipelago, with a population of around 30,000, is a province of Ecuador, a country in northwestern South America, and the islands are all part of Ecuadors national park system. The main language on the islands is Spanish.
Galapagos consists of 13 main islands, 6 smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets (a small island). The islands first appeared on maps in about 1570 in those drawn by Abraham Ortelius (a cartographer (map maker) and geographer, generally recognised as the creator of the first modern atlas) and Mercator (a Flemish cartographer). The islands were called ‘Insulae de los Galopegos’ (Islands of the Tortoises).
The Galapagos Islands were made famous as the islands that formed Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution after his exploration in HMS Beagle in 1835.
The Galapagos archipelago has been known by many different names, including the ‘Enchanted Islands’ because of the way in which the strong and swift currents made navigation difficult.
The term ‘Galápagos’ refers to the Spanish name given to the Giant Land Tortoises known to inhabit the islands.
The Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory where most of the animals and birds have no fear of man. The isles are mainly well known for their wildlife, flightless birds, giant reptiles and wild plant life which play a major part in the earths ecosystem. Many say that these islands are a bird-watchers paradise.
The endemic (unique) flightless birds are so human-fearless, they can be approached very closely and will not retreat away from you, something you will not find anywhere else.
Another unique attraction on the islands, are the giant tortoises, the giant tortoise is also the islands icon, used on souvenirs, stamps and the National Park logo.
One of the most amazing things about the climate of the islands is, although the islands are tropical and warm, the surrounding ocean can be extremely cold.
The plant life of Galapagos is just as extraordinary as its wildlife, although it has received less attention and publicity. There are many threats facing the vegetation, however, and world attention is currently focussed on raising funds for botany campaigns to safeguard endangered species and control the many invasive plants introduced to the islands by humans.
Read more about the Galapagos climate here!
Click the sign to see a map of the Galapagos Isles and some island geology!
Click the sign to find out about the ocean that surrounds the islands!
Click the sign to find out about the history of the Galapagos islands!
Click the sign to find out about the amazing flora on the Galapagos islands!