Galapagos Islands - What You Should Know Before You Go

Galapagos Islands or Colon Archipelago, group of islands, Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean, constituting a province of the country, about 965 km (about 600 mi) off the W coast. The archipelago consists of six larger and numerous smaller islands lying on or near the equator. The principal islands are Isabela, San Cristobal, Fernandina, San Salvador, Santa Maria, and Santa Cruz. The total land area is 8010 square kilometers. The Galapagos Islands is one of the seven underwater wonders of the world and one of the seven wonders of the world.

The islands are volcanic in origin, with level shorelines and mountainous interiors culminating in high central craters, some of which rise than 1520 meters above sea level. several volcanoes are active. The islands are fringed with mangroves, in coastal regions, where little rain falls, the vegetation consists chiefly of thorn trees, cactus, and joesquite.

In the uplands, which are exposed to a heavy mist, the flora is more luxuriant. The climate and the temperature of the waters surrounding the islands are modified by the cold Humboldt Current from the Antarctic.

The Galapagos group is noted for its fauna, which includes numerous animals found only in the archipelago and different subspecies on separate islands. Unique to the archipelago are six species of giant tortoise. Other reptiles on the islands include two species of large lizards of the iguana family, a burrowing land lizard and an unusual marine lizard that dives into the ocean for seaweed. 

The islands contain as many as 85 different species of birds, including flamingos, flightless cormorants, finches, and penguins. Sea lions are numerous, as are many different shore fish. Part of the Galapagos is a wildlife sanctuary.