Galápagos Province, Ecuador
GPS: -0.21970280223491, -89.991071689624
Annexed to Ecuador in 1832, the Galápagos Islands form a volcanic archipelago of 120 islands, islets, reefs and rocky outcrops a thousand kilometres from the South American coast. They are home to the Galápagos National Park covering 97% of the archipelago’s surface area and a huge protected marine reserve of almost 140,000 km², to which visits are carefully controlled. The Galápagos Islands are among the largest marine protected areas on the planet behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This exceptionally rich and diverse location in the Pacific Ocean is home to many endemic species of fauna and flora found nowhere else on Earth.
The Galápagos Islands are a popular destination for naturalists and scientists. The variety of animal and exotic species found here differs according to the geology and natural environment of the islands (colonies of land iguanas in Plaza Sur, flightless cormorants in Fernandina, albatrosses and marine iguanas in Española, penguins in Isabela, blue-footed boobies in North Seymour, giant sea tortoises in Santa Cruz or San Cristóbal…). Due to their geographical isolation, their volcanic activity, their exposure to the waves of the Pacific and their location at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos Islands have inherited a marine and terrestrial ecosystem that is unique in the world. These diverse geological features have created islands of all sizes and shapes. Considered to be the best preserved tropical archipelago in the world, the Galápagos Islands have 95% of its wildlife intact despite an increasing human presence and increase in tourism in recent years.
Also known as the Columbus Archipelago or the Enchanted Isles, the Galápagos Islands are a showcase for the world’s biodiversity, which is seriously threatened by global warming. This oasis cut off from the world in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is one of the most fragile environments on the planet. The originality of the animal species, coupled with the countless fine sandy beaches, give the Galápagos an air of paradise on earth. It is also one of the most volcanically active archipelagos in the world.