Introducction

The Galápagos Islands are situated on both sides of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 600 miles / 926 km west of mainland Ecuador in South America. An archipelago of volcanic islands, the Galapagos consists of 18 main islands with over 100 rocks and islets. It is considered to be one of the most volcanic areas in the world with many volcanoes still active. The main language on the islands is Spanish and with an estimated population of just over 25,000. The capital is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the Island of San Cristóbal although Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz has a largest population. Just four of the islands are inhabited by people, whereas many other islands are possible to visit with a certified Naturalist guide. The Galápagos Islands is one of the few places in the world without an indigenous population. It has a mixed cultural heritage with two main descendant groups: the Ecuadorian Mestizos, descendants of Spanish Colonists and indigenous Native Americans and the European Spanish Colonists. Some descendants of the early settlers still live on the islands today. The islands are known for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, as his observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.