The Galapagos Islands, a hotspot of scenery and biodiversity located in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, are an archipelago controlled by Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands, situated near the equator off of South America, are more than five hundred miles from the coast of mainland Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands’ flora and fauna are the primary reason why the archipelago was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are fifteen large islands in the Galapagos, as well as three smaller islands and more than a hundred islets. The Galapagos Islands cover a total area of more than three thousand square miles, all created by volcanic activity. The Galapagos archipelago has a total population of approximately twenty three thousand permanent residents, although not all of the islands are inhabited. The Galapagos have a spectacular range of climate types, geological features, and flora and fauna. The highest point in the Galapagos is Volcan Wolf, with an elevation of about five thousand six hundred feet above sea level. The Galapagos are home to an unparalleled variety of climates, although they generally have a median temperature in the seventies.
The Galapagos archipelago was not permanently inhabited by the indigenous peoples of South America, according to recent archeological evidence, although they were most likely visited by South Americans before Europeans arrived. The Spanish discovered the Galapagos Islands in the year fifteen thirty five, and were shortly followed by the English in the late sixteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, the enormous biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands had been exposed to the scientific community, eventually catching the interest of one Charles Darwin. His subsequent exploration of the islands resulted in The Origin of Species, which launched the theory of evolution into the mainstream. There were no permanent residents of the Galapagos until the early nineteenth century, with the population and economy rapidly growing as a result of the sperm whale trade. Ecuador and a number of European nations were responsible for the subsequent colonization of the islands, although the Galapagos eventually became a national park and a popular tourist attraction. The economy of the Galapagos archipelago depends on a number of different sectors, including fishing and farming in addition to tourism.
The five inhabited Galapagos Islands – Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, San Cristobal, and Baltra – are home to a diverse human population in addition to an unparalleled range of flora and fauna. The population of the Galapagos is relatively low thanks to the conservation efforts of the Ecuadorian government, which has protected nearly ninety eight percent of the archipelago as a national park. Notable endemic species in the Galapagos Islands include the Galapagos green turtle, the Galapagos hawk, the Galapagos mockingbirds, the Blue footed booby, and the Galapagos sea lions. These species are of particular interest to naturalists and other scientists, and are complemented by the natural plant life of the archipelago. One of the uninhabited minor islands of the Galapagos, Nameless Island, is a popular destination for scuba divers, while San Cristobal Island is home to Laguan El Junco, the largest freshwater lake in the island chain.