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February 2009

Ecuador, 1991

Ecuador, 1991

The Galápagos Islands, officially called the Archipiélago de Colón (an administrative district of Ecuador), are famous for their diverse flora and fauna. The islands are over 600 miles from the mainland coast. 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 Galápagos Islands, named after their renowned giant tortoise residents (galapago is a Spanish word for tortoise), span the equator 600 miles from mainland Ecuador.

The Galápagos Islands consist of a chain of large, medium, and small islands that have a combined area of roughly 8,000 sq km. The largest island is Isabela Island, also known as Albemarle Island, which is 120 km long with an area of 4,275 sq km. All of these islands are of volcanic origin and some have active cones. Santo Tomas, located on Isabela Island is the highest peak of the Galápagos at 1490 meters.

February 12, 2009 is the 200th birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. The Galapagos Islands are perhaps best known for their unique species of plants and animals and their role in influencing Charles Darwin and others in developing modern theories of evolution. The relationship between the geology and biology of these islands is central to the evolution of species.

U.S. Dept. of State Background Notes; U.S. Geological Survey; CIA World Factbook;LoC Country Studies, 08/2008, 04/2006, 02/2009, 1989

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