Information about the Ecuador Country

Galapagos Islands


The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. It’s considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. A province of Ecuador, it lies about 1,000km off its coast. Its isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else. Charles Darwin visited in 1835, and his observation of Galápagos’ species later inspired his theory of evolution.

Area: 3,093 mi²
Population: 25,000 (2010)
Capital: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno


Baltra (South Seymour) Island
Baltra Island, or Isla Baltra, is a small island of the Galápagos Islands. Also known as South Seymour (named after Lord Hugh Seymour), Baltra is a small flat island located near the center of the Galápagos. It was created by geological uplift. The island is very arid and vegetation consists of salt bushes, prickly pear cactus and palo santo trees.
Baltra is currently not within the boundaries of the Galápagos National Park. The Galápagos Land Iguana is the subject of an active re-introduction campaign on the island; it became extinct on Baltra in 1954. However, in the early 1930s, Captain G. Allan Hancock had translocated a population of Galápagos Land Iguanas from Baltra to North Seymour Island, a smaller island just a few hundred metres north of Baltra. The iguanas survived and became the breeding stock for the successful Charles Darwin Research Station captive breeding program. During the 1980s iguanas from North Seymour were brought to the Darwin Research Station as part of this project and in the 1990s land iguanas were reintroduced to Baltra. As of 1997 scientists counted 97 iguanas living on Baltra, 13 of which were born on the islands. Currently it is not uncommon to see iguanas either crossing the mainroad or on the runway at the airport.


Bartolomé (Bartholomew) Island
Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet in the Galápagos Islands group. It is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island. It is one of the “younger” islands in the Galápagos archipelago. This island, and Sulivan Bay on Santiago Island, are named after naturalist and lifelong friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, who was a lieutenant aboard HMS Beagle. With a total land area of just 1.2 square kilometres (0.5 square miles), this island offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the archipelago. The island consists of an extinct volcano and a variety of red, orange, green, and glistening black volcanic formations. Bartolomé has a volcanic cone that is easy to climb and provides great views of the other islands. Bartolomé is famous for its Pinnacle Rock, which is the distinctive characteristic of this island, and the most representative landmark of the Galápagos.
It has two visitor sites. At the first one, one may swim and snorkel around Pinnacle Rock; the underwater world there is really impressive. Snorkelers are in the water with the penguins, marine turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, and other tropical fish. The bay is also an excellent place to go swimming. The twin bays are separated by a narrow isthmus. Galápagos penguins are frequently seen, and a small cave behind Pinnacle Rock houses a breeding colony. Seasonally, Bartolomé is the mating and nesting site for the green turtles. With herons, they make use of the gentler beaches. The Galápagos lava cacti colonize the new lava fields.


Darwin (Culpepper) IslandDarwin (Culpepper) Island
Darwin Island is named in honor of Charles Darwin, and is among the smallest in the Galápagos Archipelago with an area of just one square kilometre (0.4 sq mi). With no dry landing sites, Darwin Island’s main attractions are found in the Pacific Ocean, which is teeming with a spectacular variety of marine life. Darwin Island and Wolf Island sometimes are referred to as Darwin and Wolf or Darwin Wolf. Although the island had been marked on maps and had initially been given the name Culpepper Island on Admiralty charts, the first landing on Darwin Island was not until 1964, by helicopter.
Darwin Island is not open to land visits. As a result, the only visitors are those that come to scuba dive, even here due to the distance from the main island only a limited number of liveaboard ships cruise here. The marine life at Darwin is diverse with large schools of fish. The island’s waters attract whale sharks from June to November, as well hammerhead, Galápagos, silky and blacktip sharks. In addition green turtles, manta rays and dolphins can be found.
The island also supports a large bird population, including frigatebirds, red-footed boobies and the vampire finch.


Española (Hood) Island
Española Island is part of the Galápagos Islands. The English named it Hood Island after Viscount Samuel Hood. It is located in the extreme southeast of the archipelago and is considered, along with Santa Fe, one of the oldest, at approximately four million years. A popular tourist stop, Isla Española is the most southerly island in the Galápagos Archipelago. The climate is very dry, like most of the Archipelago. But due to the flatness of the island, it is the driest of these islands, with only a few inches of rain per year. While Española Island is one of the oldest of the Galápagos Islands, this island is dying, slowly becoming a rocky, barren land with little or no vegetation. But this does give large bays, with sand and soft shingle which attracts a healthy number of Galápagos sea lions
This island has its own species of animals, such as the Española mockingbird, which has a longer and more curved beak than the one on the central islands; the Española lava lizard; the marine iguana of the subspecies venustissimus, which has red markings on its back; among others. Here there are also swallow-tailed gulls and other tropical birds.


Fernandina (Narborough) IslandFernandina (Narborough) Island
Fernandina Island (formerly known in English as Narborough Island, after John Narborough) is the third largest, and youngest, island of the Galápagos Islands. Like the others, the island was formed by the Galápagos hotspot. The island is an active shield volcano that has been erupting since April 11, 2009.
Fernandina has an area of 642 km² (247.9 miles2)and a height of 1,476 meters (4,842 feet), with a summit caldera about 6.5 km (4.0 mi) wide. The caldera underwent a collapse in 1968, when parts of the caldera floor dropped 350 meters. A small lake has intermittently occupied the northern caldera floor, most recently in 1988.
Due to its recent volcanic activity, the island does not present much plant life and has a mostly rocky surface. Visitors to Fernandina Island will be taken to see only the outskirts of the crater for safety reasons. Punta Espinoza is a narrow stretch of land where hundreds of marine iguanas gather in large groups on black lava rocks. The famous Flightless Cormorant inhabits this island as well as penguins, pelicans and sea lions. Two types of lava flow can be observed, ʻaʻā and pāhoehoe. Mangrove forests also abound on the island.


Floreana (Charles or Santa María) Island
Floreana Island is an island of the Galápagos Islands. It was named after Juan José Flores, the first president of Ecuador, during whose administration the government of Ecuador took possession of the archipelago. It was previously called Charles Island (after King Charles II of England), and Santa Maria after one of the caravels of Columbus.
The island has an area of 173 square kilometres (67 sq mi). It was formed by volcanic eruption. The island’s highest point is Cerro Pajas at 640 metres (2,100 ft), which is also the highest point of the volcano like most of the smaller islands of Galápagos.
A favorite dive and snorkeling site, “Devil’s Crown”, located off the northeast point of the island, is an underwater volcanic cone, offering the opportunity to snorkel with schools of fish, sea turtles, sharks and sea lions, which are abundant amongst the many coral formations found here.
At Punta Cormorant, there is a green olivine beach to see sea lions and a short walk past a lagoon to see flamingos, rays, sea turtles, and Grapsus grapsus (Sally Lightfoot) crabs. Pink flamingos and green sea turtles nest from December to May on this island. The “joint footed” petrel is found here, a nocturnal sea bird which spends most of its life away from land.


Genovesa (Tower) Island
Genovesa Island, named after the Italian city of Genoa, in honor of Christopher Columbus, (referred to in English as Tower Island) is a shield volcano in the Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The island occupies about 14 square kilometres (5 sq mi), and its maximum elevation is 64 m (210 ft). The horse-shoe shaped island has a volcanic caldera whose wall has collapsed, forming the Great Darwin Bay, surrounded by cliffs. Lake Arcturus, filled with salt water, lies in the centre, and sediment within this crater lake is less than 6,000 years old. Although no historical eruptions are known from Genovesa, there are very young lava flows on the flanks of the volcano.
This island is known as Bird Island, because of the large and varied bird colonies which nest here. There are an abundance of frigatebirds and it is among the best place in the archipelago to see red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels, tropicbirds, Darwin’s finches, and Galápagos mockingbirds.


Isabela (Albemarle) IslandIsabela (Albemarle) Island
Isabela Island is the largest island of the Galápagos with an area of 4,640 square kilometres (1,790 sq mi) and length of 100 kilometres (62 mi) almost four times larger than Santa Cruz, the second largest of the archipelago. It was named after Queen Isabella of Spain. It was originally named Albemarle after the Duke of Albemarle. The island strides the equator.
Isabela is also interesting for its flora and fauna. The young island does not follow the vegetation zones of the other islands. The relatively new lava fields and surrounding soils have not developed the sufficient nutrients required to support the varied life zones found on other islands. Another obvious difference occurs on Volcan Wolf and Cerro Azul; these volcanoes loft above the cloud cover and are arid on top.
Isabela’s rich animal, bird, and marine life is beyond compare. Isabela is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands. Isabela’s large size and notable topography created barriers for the slow-moving tortoises; apparently the creatures were unable to cross lava flows and other obstacles, causing several different sub-species of tortoise to develop. Today, tortoises roam free in the calderas of Alcedo, Wolf, Cerro Azul, Darwin, and Sierra Negra.


Marchena (Bindloe) Island
The island Marchena was named after a Spanish monk, Fray Antonio Marchena. It has an area of 130 square kilometres (50 square miles) and a maximum altitude of 343 metres (1,125 feet). Galapagos hawks and sea lions inhabit this island and it is home to the Marchena Lava Lizard, an endemic species.
Like many of the Galapagos volcanos, Marchena has a caldera (a caldera is a volcanic feature formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. They are often confused with volcanic craters. The word ‘caldera’ comes from the Spanish language, meaning ‘cauldron’). Marchena’s caldera is roughly elliptical and measures 7 kilometres by 6 kilometres, within the range of caldera sizes of the large western volcanoes.


North Seymour Island
North Seymour is a small island near to Baltra Island in the Galápagos Islands. It was formed by uplift of a submarine lava formation. The whole island is covered with low, bushy vegetation.
The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour. North Seymour Island has an area of 1.9 square kilometres (0.73 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 28 metres (92 ft). This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. It hosts one of the largest populations of magnificent frigatebirds and a slow growing population of the Galápagos land iguanas.
North Seymour is an extraordinary place for breeding birds, and is home to one of the largest populations of nesting blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. Pairs of blue-footed boobies can be seen conducting their mating ritual as they offer each other gifts, whistle and honk, stretch their necks towards the sky, spread their wings, and dance—showing off their bright blue feet. Magnificent frigatebirds perch in low bushes, near the boobies, while watching over their large chicks. The frigates are huge, dark aerobats with a 90-inch (2.3 m) wingspan. Male frigates can puff up their scarlet throat sacks to resemble giant red balloons. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. Boobies are excellent hunters and fish in flocks. The frigates by comparison are pirates, they dive bomb the boobies to force them to drop their prey. Then, the aerobatic frigate swoops down and picks up the food before it hits the water.


Pinzón (Duncan) IslandPinzón (Duncan) Island
Pinzón Island, sometimes called Duncan Island (after Adam Duncan, 1st Viscount Duncan), is an island in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Pinzón is home to giant Galápagos tortoises of the endemic subspecies Chelonoidis nigra duncanensis, Galápagos sea lions and other endemic species. It has no visitor facilities and a permit is required to visit. It has an area of 18 km2 and a maximum altitude of 458 meters. Pinzón marks the geographical center of the Galápagos Islands, but neither of the two main Galápagos tree species are present. In the humid zone a unique species of daisy tree is found.
An infestation of non-native rats began in the mid 18th century with the arrival of European sailors. The rats devastated the tortoise population by eating their eggs and young hatchlings that were too small to defend themselves. In 2012, conservationists dropped bait on the island designed to attract and kill the rats. The experiment worked and the island is now rat-free. In December 2014, the first hatchlings were spotted on Pinzón.


Pinta (Louis) Island
The Pinta Island tortoise, also known as the Pinta giant tortoise, Abingdon Island tortoise, or Abingdon Island giant tortoise, is a subspecies of Galápagos tortoise native to Ecuador’s Pinta Island that is probably extinct.
The subspecies was described by Albert Günther in 1877 after specimens arrived in London. By the end of the 19th century, most of the Pinta Island tortoises had been wiped out due to hunting. By the mid-20th century, the subspecies was assumed to be extinct until a single male was discovered on the island in 1971. Efforts were made to mate the male, named Lonesome George, with other subspecies, but no viable eggs were produced. Lonesome George died on 24 June 2012 and the subspecies was believed to have become extinct with his death. However, 17 first-generation hybrids have been found at Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island during a recent trip by Yale University researchers.


Rábida (Jervis) Island
Rábida Island, is one of the Galápagos Islands. The island has also been known as Jervis Island named in honour of the 18th-century British admiral John Jervis. In Ecuador it is officially known as Isla Rábida.
In addition to flamingos and the bachelor sea lion colony, pelicans, white-cheeked pintails, boobies, and nine species of finch have been reported. The rich wildlife attracts a number of tourists cruises.
In 1971 the National Park Service successfully eradicated goats from Rábida. This introduced species upset the natural environment and led to the extinction of several native creatures including geckos, land iguanas, and rice rats.


San Cristóbal (Chatham) IslandSan Cristóbal (Chatham) Island
San Cristóbal is the easternmost island in the Galápagos archipelago, as well as one of the oldest geologically. It is administratively part of San Cristóbal Canton, Ecuador. San Cristóbal has an area of 558 km2 (215 sq mi) and its highest point rises to 730 metres (2,400 ft). The population is approximately 6000. San Cristóbal is the most fertile island of the archipelago and is the second most populated after Santa Cruz. The capital of the archipelago, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, lies at the south-western tip of the island.
The majority of inhabitants make their living in government, tourism, and artisanal fishing. Also the majority of the residents of San Cristóbal live in the port city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the capital of the Galápagos province. Island tourism sites nearer the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno include the Cerro Tijeretas, a nesting colony for Frigate birds and a statue of Charles Darwin, marking the original site where he first disembarked in the Galápagos Islands during the voyage of the Beagle, on 16 September 1835. La Loberia, a colony of sea lions, lies about ten minutes by bus from the town.


Santa Fe (Barrington) IslandSanta Cruz (Indefatigable) Island
Santa Cruz Island is one of the Galápagos Islands with an area of 986 km2 (381 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 864 metres (2,835 ft). Situated in the center of the archipelago, Santa Cruz is the second largest island after Isabela. Its capital is Puerto Ayora, the most populated urban centre in the islands. On Santa Cruz there are some small villages, whose inhabitants work in agriculture and cattle raising. This island is a large dormant volcano. It is estimated that the last eruptions occurred around a million and a half years ago. There is a gigantic lava tunnel that is over 2000 meters long on the island that many tourists visit and walk through. As a testimony to its volcanic history there are two big holes formed by the collapse of a magma chamber: Los Gemelos, or “The Twins”. Named after the Holy Cross, its English name (Indefatigable) was given after a British vessel HMS Indefatigable. Santa Cruz hosts the largest human population in the archipelago at the town of Puerto Ayora, with a total of 12,000 residents on the island.
Tortuga Bay is located on the Santa Cruz Island, a short walk from center of Puerto Ayora where you can view Marine iguanas, birds, galapagos crabs and a natural mangrove where you can spot white tip reef sharks and the gigantic galápagos tortoise.


Santa Fe (Barrington) Island
Santa Fe Island (Spanish: Isla Santa Fe), also called Barrington Island after admiral Samuel Barrington, is a small island of 24 square kilometres (9.3 sq mi) which lies in the centre of the Galápagos archipelago, to the south east of Santa Cruz Island. Geologically it is one of the oldest, since volcanic rocks of about 4 million years old have been found. The vegetation of the island is characterized by brush, palo santo trees and stands of a large variety of the prickly pear cactus Opuntia echios.
Among animals, Santa Fe is home to one endemic species and one endemic subspecies: the Barrington land iguana and the Santa Fe rice rat.
The visitor site is a wet landing located in Barrington Bay on the northeastern side of the island. Large numbers of sea lions are found on the beaches in the bay, occasionally hindering peregrination to the two trails leading from the beach.


Santiago (San Salvador, James) Island
Santiago Island is an island of the Galápagos Islands. It is also known as San Salvador, named after the first island discovered by Columbus in the Caribbean Sea or as James Island. The island, which consists of two overlapping volcanoes, has an area of 585 square kilometers (226 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 907 meters (2,976 ft), atop the northwestern shield volcano. The volcano in the island’s southeast Marine Iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, land and sea turtles, flamingos, crabs, dolphins, and sharks are found here. There are a large number of goats and pigs, animals which were introduced by humans to the islands and have caused great harm to the endemic species.


Wolf (Wenman) IslandWolf (Wenman) Island
Wolf Island or Wenman Island is a small island in the Galápagos Islands and was named after the German geologist Theodor Wolf, who also has the volcano Wolf on Isabela Island named after him. It has an area of 1.3 square kilometres (0.5 square miles) and a maximum altitude of 253 metres (830 feet) above sea level.
The island is remote from the main island group and has no permanent population, the Galápagos National Park does not allow landing on the island, however it is a popular diving location. It was previously called Wenman Island.
Wolf Island is part of the Galápagos National Park, however, it is not accessible to land visits. Like its neighbour, Darwin, it is open to visits by scuba divers. The marine life of Wolf Island includes: schooling hammerhead, Galápagos and occasionally whale sharks, as well as green turtles, manta rays and other pelagic fish.
Birdlife on the island is abundant with frigatebirds; red-footed boobys and vampire finchs.

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