Located 1,000 Km. off Ecuador's Pacific coast, this mysterious and fascinating archipelago is comprised of 13 large islands, six smaller ones and over 40 islets. Together they cover 7,500 sq. Km. Most are south of the Equator where several marine currents converge. Thus, all of the elements were in place to create this zoological, geological and botanical wonder.
The islands emerge from the Pacific some three to five million years ago as the result of underwater volcanic eruptions. It is the lava formations and volcanic rock that gibe the tourist an eerie "other world " feeling when seeing the islands.
Through the evolutionary process, climate, ocean currents and the comparative lack of predatory enemies including man the Galapagos became one of the strangest and most compelling places on our planet. Flora and fauna, arriving on different "routes" across the waters from the mainland, colonized the original Galapagos lava beds.
The organisms which survived evolved to constitute species unique to the world. All of the Galapagos reptiles, half of the birds, 32% of the plants and 25% of the fish, as well as many of the invertebrates, are found only in the archipelago.
The terrestrial and marine environments in Galapagos create a multiplicity of attractive and unique landscapes which have captivated generation of tourists and scientists. Giant tortoise, marine and land iguanas and lava lizards constitute the most spectacular reptile group found anywhere.
Birds are represented by more than 13 species of varying finches and also by flightless cormorants, small penguins, sparrow hawks, flamingos, albatrosses and boobies, among others, Mammals found there include beautiful and playful seals and dolphins.
It is for all of these reasons, and many others, that UNESCO declared the Galapagos Islands a Natural Heritage of Mankind site.
description of the islands