With three oceans coming together here, the Galápagos are a blend of different marine species, including a number of endemic species. The marine reserve surrounding the islands is often referred to as “a unique living museum and showcase of evolution”. The roots of the evolution theory by Darwin, originated here with the collection of bird species. Based on this, he formulated a scientific argument for the theory of evolution by means of natural selection.
The unique Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador and lie about 1,000 km (600 miles) west of the mainland. It has 13 mayor islands (over 10 km²) and more than 100 small islands. They have been formed by volcanic processes and most islands represent the top of a volcano, of which some are over 3,000 meter high. Today, this volcanic activity is still active and the islands are literally on the move: they rise, grow and disappear over (a very long) time.
Only four islands are populated: Floreana, Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal, which total a mere 26,000 people, mostly fishermen. Since the 70s, tourism has become an important industry as well.
Culturally the Galapagos are very similar to the mainland Ecuador. The language spoken is Spanish.