The Galapagos Islands are among the most beautiful islands in the world, not only from the point of view of geographical beauty and position, but also from the point of view of plant and animal diversity. The biodiversity of this region of the world is known to be unlike most others in the world and the land is said to be blessed with amongst the most amazing plant, animal and mineral wealth on the planet. However, in recent times, all these natural possessions seem to be fighting a losing war against the exploits of man. The Galapagos Islands being as beautiful as they are, they are a major hub for millions of people each year, coming here for a vacation. The Galapagos Islands are a great example of how tourism means a slow death for the naturally beautiful places and all they hold and stand for.
The Galapagos Islands were discovered in the year 1535 by Bishop Tomas de Berlanga. The first and only people to have colonized the Galapagos Islands were the people of Ecuador. Ecuador took over the Galapagos Islands and colonized it right into the 19th century. It was Charles Darwin, the esteemed scientist, who gave us the theory of evolution, who first noticed the beautiful Galapagos Islands to be a haven for biodiversity the likes of which had never been seen before. This was in the year 1835. Tourism became an addition to the Galapagos Islands in the end of the twentieth century, and saw the population of this place going up to its present of around twenty thousand people.
The name of these islands has been procured from the saddleback tortoise that can be found in large numbers over here. These turtlese are known to be amongst the largest on the planet. The Galapagos Islands are a group of thirteen main islands, and close to a hundred subsidiary islands and islets. These islands lie precisely six hundred miles away from the coast of Ecuador. These islands cover a land area that measures no less than five thousand square miles. The fastest and easiest way to reach the Galapagos Islands is to catch a flight on a local airline from Ecuador to the islands. The islands are known for their exceptional beauty with white sands and blue waters that can ease anyone who has a troubled mind. The beauty of this place is that it is believed to be so for the last ten million years or so. The entire Galapagos region comes under the purview of the Ecuadorian government and is a part of the country’s national park system. There have been more than sixty volcanoes that have happened here in the period of two hundred years.
Giant sperm whales were known to swim around the islands, quirt close to the coast itself. To find orcas or killer whales hunting sperm whales today is not too much of a rare sight. The orcas are also found to hunt for sea lions, sharks, and rays. So beautiful and intricate is the beauty on these islands, that it was the inspiration for the author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville to work on a series of essays, which he titled The Encantadas. As stated already, the Galapagos Islands were the inspiration for Charles Darwin to think and study n the theory of evolution. Hence, in commemoration of his great study, one of the main islands over here is known as Darwin Island, after the naturalist.
However, it is not only an island that has been named after Charles Darwin. Darwin also leant his name to thirteen species of finches that are only seen on these islands of the Galapagos region. These fiches are especially recognizable because of their unique beaks. The other animals that one can find only on the Galapagos Islands include the marine iguanas. These are the only lizards in the world, which are able to adapt to seawater conditions. The infamous scopoendra centipede is found on most of these islands and is known to make frequent meals out of lava lizards and sometimes, young rats. The largest centipedes in the word, they are known to grow to a length of up to a foot. The Galapagos Islands are also known to have the only species of penguins that live not on the poles, but on the Equator. However, these penguins are on the list of endangered species of animals of the world. According to scientific data collected, there are less than one and a half thousand Galapagos penguins in the world. One of the most poisonous species of flora on the planet, the manzanillo apple trees are found only on these islands. Not only are the fruits on these trees poisonous, but also is the bark, as well as the sap.
The Galapagos islands, for all of these reasons is considered a World Heritage Site. The tourism is tried to be kept at a minimum, which facilitates the better upkeep of the Islands beauty and wonder.