About the islands
The Galapagos Islands are situated on the equator, about 1000km off the Pacific coast of Ecuador. They are comprised of 14 major islands, more than 120 smaller islets and rocks, and the surrounding ocean. All the present islands are younger than 4 million years old and were formed as a result of volcanic eruptions.
UNESCO declared the Galapagos Islands a Natural Patrimony of Humanity. The Marine Reserve contains a unique combination of land and oceanic ecosystems with many distinct habitats and communities. The Galapagos are situated at the point where major ocean currents meet, and are located between several shifting tectonic plates.
Galapagos is one of the best-conserved archipelagos in the world. Species have adapted successfully to a live in an inhospitable landscape, occupying a unique niche in that ecosystem, having little competition for food, water and space. This tiny surface area of land and its surrounding sea contain a variety of climatic and oceanographic extremes and unique plants, animals and ecosystems, giving the islands a magical appeal.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the Galapagos province, located along the southwestern coast of San Cristobal Island. It has the second largest population with 6,672 inhabitants.
The primary industries are artisan fishing, tourism and arable farming.
In 1959, there were approximately between 1,000 to 2,000 people in the islands. In 1972 a census in the archipelago recorded a population of 3,488. By the 1980s, this number had risen to more than 15,000 people.
As of 2012 there were 26,640 people.
The Galápagos Archipelago consists of approximately 8,010 km2 (3,090 sq mi) of land spread over 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) of ocean. The group consists of 18 main islands, 3 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets.
The Marine Reserve area is 133,000 square kilometers of sea surface. It includes the inland waters of the Islands (50,100 km²) and the entire area within 40 nautical miles measured from the coasts of the outer Islands.
In 2001, the Galapagos Marine Reserve was included in the list of World Heritage Sites, due to its enormous ecological, cultural, and economic value for the conservation and maintenance of unique Galapagos species.
San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana.
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