Galapagos Islands Facts
- Firstly, the truly breathtaking Galapagos Islands constitutes a largely pristine archipelago of volcanic islands. Furthermore, this magnificent site also represents a rather incredible marvel of both geology and biology. This fabulous location also remains considered to be a unique location of incomparably vast ecological importance and significance.
- In addition to this, the larger islands and the numerous smaller bodies comprising the archipelago formed in a quite fascinating location. That holds true due to the fact that this marvel of Nature straddles the equator. Therefore, part of the remarkable archipelago lies in the Northern Hemisphere, while the rest lies in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Further, the studies of this breathtaking location by Charles Darwin played a pivotal role in the development of his theory of evolution. Due to the incomprehensible value this archipelago holds to science, it now holds several distinctions. The islands themselves no comprise the Galapagos National Park, and the surrounding waters form Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Galapagos Islands Physical Description
Perhaps most notably, the astonishing Galapagos Islands actually includes an extensive array of sites. That’s because it consists of a grand total of 18 primary islands, 3 smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets. Together, the magnificent archipelago also totals an impressive 3,040 sq mi (7,880 sq km) in total area.
In addition, this astounding island chain formed through volcanic activity, like many others in the immediate area. Studies indicate that this process occurred over a period of roughly 20 million years. In fact, it continues to grow slowly, due to ongoing volcanic activity. However, this remains minor in our age. In modern times, the few eruptions have remained minor.
Many of the individual islands and islets also serve as home to one or more volcanoes. Some of these volcanoes remain active even today, though none have erupted violently in modern times. However, two of the islands, Fernandina and Isabela, are still growing through slow volcanic processes.
Galapagos Islands Location and Ecological Importance
The uniquely placed Galapagos Islands straddle both sides of the equator in the Pacific Ocean. More specifically, this location also roughly encircles the center of the Western Hemisphere. This amazing location lies roughly 500 nautical miles (926 km) west of continental Ecuador, in South America.
Only 5 of the islands have a population, all of them sparsely settled. This population totals around 25,000 individuals. None of these constitute a native population, however. Of further interest is the fact that the Galapagos Islands remains one of those few places on earth without a true indigenous people.
Interestingly, the archipelago does remain extremely well known for its large number of indigenous plant and animal species. In fact, the environmental importance of this unique area is clear from the fact that not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it also constitutes a Biosphere Reserve.
Some of the amazing species calling the site home live nowhere else on earth. These include such species as the Galapagos Penguin and the Marine Iguana. Quite sadly, however, various invasive species now form a problem for some of the native species. Also, a total of 27,000 sq miles (70,000 sq km) of the surrounding ocean is a marine reserve, and a National Park.