The Galápagos Islands (Official name: Archipiélago de Colón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos, from galápago, “saddle”—after the shells of saddlebacked Galápagos tortoises) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator, 972 km west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific OceanCoordinates: 0°40′S 90°33′W / -0.667, -90.55.
The Galápagos archipelago has a population of around 40,000, is a province of Ecuador, a country in northwestern South America, and the islands are all part of Ecuador’s national park system. The principal language on the islands is Spanish.
The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and the studies by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle that contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
Bartolomé (Bartholomew) Island
Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island in the Galápagos Islands group. it is one of the “younger” islands in the Galápagos archipelago. This island, and neighbouring Sulivan Bay on Santiago (James) island, are named after lifelong friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, who was a lieutenant aboard HMS Beagle.
San Cristóbal (Chatham) Island
It bears the name of the patron saint of seafarers, “St. Christopher”. Its English name was given after William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham. It has an area of 558 km2 (215 sq mi) and its highest point rises to 730 m (2395 ft). This is the first island in the Galápagos Archipelago Charles Darwin visited during his voyage on the Beagle.
Española (Hood) Island
Its name was given in honor of Spain. It also is known as Hood, after Viscount Samuel Hood. It has an area of 60 km2 (23 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 206 m (676 ft). Española is the oldest island at around 3.5 million years, and the southernmost in the group. Due to its remote location, Española has a large number of endemic species.
Fernandina (Narborough) Island
The name was given in honor of King Ferdinand II of Aragon, who sponsored the voyage of Columbus. Fernandina has an area of 642 km2 (248 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 1,494 m (4,902 ft). This is the youngest and westernmost island. On 13 May 2005, a new, very eruptive process began on this island, when an ash and water vapor cloud rose to a height of 7 km (23,000 ft) and lava flows descended the slopes of the volcano on the way to the sea.
Santiago (San Salvador, James) Island
Its name is equivalent to Saint James in English; it is also known as San Salvador, after the first island discovered by Columbus in the Caribbean Sea. This island has an area of 585 km2 (226 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 907 m (2976 ft). Marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, land and sea turtles, flamingos, dolphins and sharks are found here.
Charles Darwin Research Station
The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) is a biological research station operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. It is located on the shore of Academy Bay in the village of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands, with satellite offices on Isabela and San Cristóbal islands.
Isabela (Albemarle) Island
This island was named in honor of Queen Isabela. With an area of 4,640 km2 (1,792 sq mi), it is the largest island of the Galápagos. Its highest point is Volcán Wolf, with an altitude of 1,707 m (5,600 ft). The island’s seahorse shape is the product of the merging of six large volcanoes into a single land mass. On this island, Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs abound.
Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island
Given the name of the Holy Cross in Spanish, its English name derives from the British vessel HMS Indefatigable. It has an area of 986 km2 (381 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 864 m (2834 ft). Santa Cruz hosts the largest human population in the archipelago, the town of Puerto Ayora. The Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service are located here.