The Galápagos Islands – A volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

The Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, is a province of Ecuador, lying about 1,000km off its coast, and considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. They were discovered in 1535 by Tomas de Berlanga, the Spanish Bishop of Panama, when his ship drifted by the islands.The Galapagos Islands first appeared on maps in the late 16th century, and were named “Insulae de los Galopegos” (Islands of the Tortoises) in reference to the giant tortoises found there. The first navigation chart of the Galapagos islands was done by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684, and he reportedly named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates, as well as European nobility.The islands became Ecuador’s first national park in 1959, and these now aggressively-protected islands and the surrounding marine reserve were both declared World Heritage sites.Travel to these islands is strictly controlled by Ecuador, and a visit to the home of the giant tortoise, marine iguanas, and Darwin’s finches must (should) be done through a professional tour operator, of which there are many operating through Quito and Quayaquil.


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