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Friday 24th May
Galapagos Islands - Page One
sea lion The Galapagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean. Around one thousand kilometres off the South American coast, Galapagos is a province of Ecuador.

The Archipelago, one of the world's most active volcanic areas, consists of over one hundred and twenty islands and islets which rise from a submarine platform 1,300 metres deep. Isabela is the largest island, followed by Santa Cruz.

Isolated from the South American continent, the islands are home to many species and subspecies not found anywhere else in the world. As the islands are volcanic most life arrived by chance. Some seeds were wind borne or transported by birds or washed up on the shores. The ocean currents brought a diversity of life to the islands: the Galapagos Penguin came with the cold waters of the Humboldt Current - the only penguin to live north of the Equator.

Three hundred species of fish inhabit the sea surrounding the islands. Marine life includes dolphins, whales, turtles, sea lions, fur seals and marine iguanas. Giant tortoises are the most famous creatures living on the islands. Birds include the Flightless Cormorant, the Lava Gull, three species of Booby, two types of Frigatebird and thirteen species of finches known as Darwin's Finches.

specimen stored at the Darwin Centre, LondonIn 1835 HMS Beagle arrived in the Galapagos Archipelago on a surveying expedition. Charles Darwin, a member of the Beagle team, visited some of the islands. His observations of changes in species on different islands influenced his thoughts on evolution, published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859.

Specimens collected by Charles Darwin during his voyage on the Beagle are stored in the Darwin Centre in London, a development of the UK's Natural History Museum.

The Charles Darwin Foundation, founded in 1959 in Galapagos, Ecuador, works closely with the government of Ecuador and is dedicated to the conservation of the Galapagos ecosystems.

In 1978 the Galapagos National Park was inscribed as a World Heritage site and in 1984 the Galapagos (Archipielago de Colon) became a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. UNESCO extended the Galapagos World Heritage status to include the Galapagos Marine Reserve in 2001.


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