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The Galápagos Islands

Home » Destination Guides - Countries » Ecuador » The Galápagos Islands

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It is difficult, if not impossible, not to be amazed and charmed by the Galápagos Islands. To come here is to step out of time and into a fantastic, spectacular, insular world where there is little to disrupt the tranquillity of the extraordinary flora and fauna that reign more or less supreme over this strange, isolated territory.

Where else could you find such a motley collection of animals - Californian sea lions, flightless cormorants, prehistoric-looking land and marine iguanas, flamingoes, gigantic tortoises that bear witness to bygone days, the smallest penguins in the world, and all sorts of other curious, mysterious creatures - all sharing the same territory? Indeed, there is no other place on the planet quite like the Galápagos.

Made famous by English naturalist Charles Darwin's research, the Galápagos archipelago lies in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000km (621mi) west of the Ecuadoran coast. It consists of 15 islands and 40 islets of volcanic origin. These are home to many fascinating plant and animal species, some found nowhere else in the world.

On September 15, 1835, Charles Darwin arrived at the Galápagos during a scientific expedition. In the course of his five-week stay, the young English naturalist, who was 26 at the time, visited just four or five of the islands and recorded a series of fascinating observations on the flora and fauna. These notes would support his famous theory of evolution, expounded in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859).

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