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Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean on the equator about 1000 km west of Ecuador and part of the territory of Ecuador. They are famed for unique wildlife and the studies by Charles Darwin that led to his theory of evolution through natural selection (note: evolution was not a theory original with Darwin; natural selection was).

The islands are distributed to the north and south of the equator; the equator crosses the northern part of the largest island Isabela.

Wildlife

The Galapagos islands were declared a national park in 1959. The ocean surrounding the islands was later declared a marine reserve[?]. UNESCO recognised the islands World Heritage Site in 1978, which was extended in December 2001 to include the marine reserve. The Charles Darwin Foundation[?] dedicated to the conservation of the islands was founded in Belgium in 1959.

Species include:

  • land iguana
  • giant tortoise
  • many types of finch
  • Galapagos penguin, Spheniscus mendiculus, - it's unusual for penguins to live at the equator.

History

Galapagos was discovered by Fray Tomás de Berlanga[?] in 1535. The islands were uninhabited, although Thor Heyerdahl in the 1950s reported findings of pottery of South American origin that suggested earlier contacts, a theory that appears to be still controversial. Ecuador annexed Galapagos Islands on February 12, 1832.

Charles Darwin reached Galapagos on the Beagle in September 1835 and spent about five weeks studying the geology and biology on four of the islands.

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