The Galapagos Islands, one of the most renowned oceanic archipelagos in the eastern Pacific, remain one of the most pristine places on Earth. Here, wildlife not only reverberates above and below the sea surface, but most plants, animals and other forms of biodiversity are unique to the rest of the planet. Thanks to its near-pristine pristinity and high levels of endemism, there is no doubt that the Galapagos Archipelago is an oasis for biodiversity in the eastern Pacific.
These islands are the tips of giant basaltic submarine volcanoes and owe their origins to volcanic activity. They emerged from the ocean and through time some have slowly disappeared back into the sea as a corollary of plate tectonic and hotspot theories.
The Galapagos, accidentally discovered in 1535, remained virtually uninhabited for the three centuries that followed. While humans did not settle on the islands until a few centuries after their discovery, they did leave their mark. Buccaneers and whalers were responsible for the introduction of the first (and perhaps the most devastating) alien species, such as the black rat and goat. In addition, the Galapagos giant land tortoise, the Galapagos fur seal and whales suffered their first predatory actions. From the beginning of the 19th century, the Galapagos experienced a slow but continuous process of colonization encouraged by the Ecuadorian government, which took possession of the Archipelago in 1832. Just three years later, in 1835, the islands received the most famous visitor they ever had: the great naturalist Charles Darwin, who reached the Galapagos and cruised the archipelago for five weeks during his five-year exploratory journey around the world.
Click the links below for more information on the Galapagos Islands: