The Galapagos Islands are home to beautiful nature and unique wildlife, but that is not all that this magical archipelago has to offer to its visitors. On this blog, you will discover 25 facts about the Galapagos Islands.
The Enchanted Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands have been a favorite travel destination for many decades because of the charm of its nature; pearl beaches, turquoise oceans, amber rocks, and diamond skies.
As well as its wondrous wildlife; The Galapagos has one of the highest levels of endemism in the whole world, and a variety of animals that include sharks and whales and dolphins; seals and penguins; blue and red footed boobies; giant turtles and more. Maybe even The Kraken dwells in its waters.
Traveling to The Galapagos Islands implies connecting with nature in a special way, escaping from the noise and the crowds. It is a peaceful and meaningful experience.
The good news is that the Islands are one of the safest places to travel during the pandemic. Strict safety protocols have been put in place to protect its people and its ecosystem. In fact, the Galapagos Islands are on track to being the first archipelago in Latin America to achieve collective immunity from Covid-19, as 100% of its population age 18 have been already vaccinated.
It would be a great idea to book now before the demand increases! In the meantime, check out these 25 remarkable facts about The Galapagos Islands.
25 Remarkable Facts about The Galapagos Islands
- Small but Unique. The Archipelago is made up of 7,880 km² (3,040 mi²) of land and 45,000 km² (17,000 mi²) of ocean.
- 19 Wonderful Islands. There are about 19 main islands and dozens of islets. However, this number is up to debate because ongoing volcanic activity means new formations of land are emerging at a slow but steady pace!
- A Great Deal of Volcanoes. Some of which are active and have erupted recently. The Galapagos Islands have 21 volcanoes, 13 of them are active. Since 2018, two volcanic eruptions took place in Galapagos; the eruption of Sierra Negra volcano in 2018, and in 2020, the eruption of La Cumbre volcano. More recently, on January 7th, the Wolf Volcano erupted on Isabela Island, spewing lava and ash over the pacific ocean. However, eruptions tend to be mild and safety procedures are always taken into account. Amazing photographs of eruptions, on the other hand, are out of control!
Image: Diario EL UNIVERSO, (2020), “Erupcionó volcán La Cumbre en Galápagos”.
- A Young Archipelago. The Galapagos is a very active Archipelago because it is youth. It is thought to have been formed only about 3-4 million years ago. Fernandina Island is the youngest of the bunch, formed less than 1 million years ago!
- Española is the Oldest. On the other hand, Española Island is the oldest of the bunch. It has been growing in size and has been slowly moving towards the South American continent.
- Inhabited Islands. Even though there are so many islands, only five are inhabited: Baltra (Seymour), Floreana, Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Isabela.
- Population in The Galapagos. The population of The Galapagos Islands is slightly over 25.000, which accounts to less than 0.15% of the total population of Ecuador.
Graph: Charles Darwin Foundation, with data from INEC (2015)
- First Settlers. In 1535, The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive into the Islands. They are considered the first settlers.
- Pirate’s Hideout and Buried Treasures. However, due to its strategic location, it was used by pirates or buccaneers in the 16th and 17th century as an outpost, hideout, and storage-house. Even Sir Francis Drake used to wander through the Galapagos Islands. Maybe there are treasures still buried around!
- Charles Darwin visited The Galapagos. Charles Darwin (you probably have heard of him) got the inspiration he needed from his visit to the Galapagos Islands and wrote The Origin of Species. A stepping stone in understanding life.
- Understanding Evolution. For instance, Darwin studied Finches within the Islands and found out that there were 13 different finches that were more closer related to each other than to any other species, however they had notorious differences that were a consequence of Evolution, they adapted to different circumstances to survive, but had a common ancestor.
- The Blue-Footed Bobby, a Trademark Species of Galapagos. Another type of bird that is famous in the Galapagos Islands is the Blue-Footed Booby. The vivid color of their feet comes from their diet, from a substance called carotenoid that improves their immune system. For this reason, a more intense blue, means a stronger immune system, and a bigger likelihood of mating.
- Incredible Percentages of Endemism. Talking about animals. There are species of animals in the Galapagos that are found nowhere else on Earth. About 80% of the birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and 30% of the plants are endemic.
- Giant Turtles. The Galapagos are home to the iconic Giant Turtles, the largest tortoises and the longest living vertebrates in the world. They can weigh over 70 pounds and live for over 100 years!
- Giant Turtle’s Superpower. Giant Turtles eat cactus pads, grasses, and native fruit, but they have the incredible ability of being able to survive for one year without eating food or drinking water.
- Lonesome George, the Last of his Species. Lonesome George was classified as one of the rarest creatures in the world. He was a male Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii) and the last known individual of the species. Unfortunately, he died of cardiac arrest in 2012, being around 100 years old.
- Close Relatives to Lonesome George Found. However, in 2020 a young turtle very closely related to Lonely George was found in Galapagos National Park.
- UNESCO World Heritage and More. To protect the Islands’ unique ecosystem and species, The Galapagos were declared a National Park in 1959, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, and a Biological Marine Reserve in 1986.
- Almost Entirely a National Park. 97% of the Galapagos Islands is a National Park. The remaining 3% is where its population of 25.000 people live.
- In the Middle of The World. The Galapagos Islands are located in the middle of the world, on the equatorial line. Some islands are located in the Northern Hemisphere and some islands are located in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Penguins! Because of this, the Galapagos is the only place where Penguins can be found in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Startling Night Skies. For this very same reason, it is possible to see both the Northern and Southern star constellations at the same time. Night skies in the Galapagos, far away from big, electric, noisy big cities, are astonishing.
Image: Jeff Goldberg
- Hotspot for Diving. There are about 30 diving locations scattered throughout the Islands where adventurous travelers may swim along sharks (including hammerhead sharks), whales and manta rays, all surrounded with beautiful coral reefs.
- Multiple Activities. Other popular activities in Galapagos include snorkeling, hiking, sea kayaking, surfing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and getting a tan in its white-sand beaches. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen!
- How many visitors? In 2019, only about 65.000 visitors went inside the National Park, so the Islands are a great place, and it is not over-crowded. Be sure to find yourself among the next visitors to this magical destination!
There is Much More to Learn
Did you like our list of 25 Facts about the Galapagos Islands? These are just some interesting facts, but there are hundreds more that make The Galapagos Islands as unique can get. Stay tuned for more information about this magical archipelago!
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