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Galapagos Islands

Ecuador facts & history in brief

Galápagos Islands, are a group of thirteen large islands and many small ones spread across the Equator in the Pacific Ocean.
They are also called the Archipelago de Colon and are situated about 1,000 km (600 miles) west of Ecuador, to whom they belong to.
They consist mainly of volcanoes that have developed on an east west axle of fracture zone and which rise up to 3,000 m (10,000 feet) from the sea floor.
They then stand a further 1,800 m (6,000 feet) above sea-level and cover an area of 7,844 square kilometres.
The resulting scenery is striking large summit craters, fresh lava flows, and impressive sea cliffs diversify a generally rugged topography.
The islands once were known as the Enchanted Isles, where Pirates buried their stolen treasure, castaways found refuge and sometimes Mutineers were left there.
The Galápagos Islands are well known for the diversity of some unusual, sometime strange birds and animals that live there.
There are giant tortoises that weigh more than 230 kilograms.
The Spanish word for the tortoises, galapagos, gave the islands their name.
Most extraordinary of all the animals in the Galápagos are the lizards called iguanas.
Many of them are over 1 metre long.
Other animals include herons, sea birds called boobies, and scarlet crabs, which are the same as an Atlantic species from which they have been separated for possibly 35 million years, also birds like penguins that cannot fly and mockingbirds of a type unknown elsewhere.
The five largest islands are Isabela (Albemarle), Santa Cruz (Indefatigable), San Cristobal (Chatham), Fernandina (Narborough), and San Salvador (James).
In 1942, Ecuador allowed United States troops to establish a base on the Galapagos to guard the Panama Canal.
The United States returned this base to Ecuador in 1946, after World War II.
In 1835, Charles Darwin made a study of the animals found on the 15 islands and written a very controversial book about the time about his theories about evolution.
About 8000 people live on the islands.

The Galápagos Islands are National and World Heritage Park today.
Every visitor to the islands have to pay US$100 on landing, that goes to the security and maintenance of the islands.
We would probably have seen more animals at our local zoo, than we seen on our visit to the Galápagos Islands.

I have strong suspicion, that the wild life have been pre warned of our visit, much the same as in the Amazon Jungle.

For more information about Galápagos Islands see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You can click on these photos for an enlargement.

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