- Are both a national park and a biological marine reserve
- Most noted for unique and endemic wildlife
- 3,040 square miles of land over 17,000 square miles of ocean
- Recognized as a World Heritage site
The Galapagos Islands are located off the coast of Ecuador and account for one of the provinces of Ecuador. In addition to being a province of the country, the islands are also a national park and marine wildlife reserve. The area designated as the marine wildlife reserve is the second largest designated area only behind the Great Barrier Reef. UNESCO declared the Galapagos Islands as a World Heritage site in 1978.
The Galapagos Islands gained their greatest recognition following the observations and publication of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. More importantly, the Galapagos Islands are notable for the unique and endemic species. The majority of wildlife and fauna have been introduced to the island as compared to native and endemic species. There are over 700 species of plants introduced to the islands as compared to approximately 500 native and endemic species.
The unique and intriguing wildlife is what draws most visitors to the islands. Exploring the islands and witnessing this wildlife makes for a spectacular encounter with nature. Some of the most unique and amazing creatures include the following: Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Tortoises, Galapagos Sea Lions, Galapagos Penguins and the Blue Footed Booby top the list for many people.
Best way to see the Galapagos Islands
More will follow on the Galapagos Islands as they are declared an official or notable wonder of South America.