7 Natural Wonders of the World
New Seven Wonders of Nature-One
of 28 nominees. Winners will be announced in 2011.
Islands (official name: Archipiélago
de Colón; other Spanish names:
Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos)
are an archipelago of volcanic islands
distributed around the equator in
the Pacific Ocean, 972 km west of
continental Ecuador. It is a UNESCO
World Heritage site: wildlife is its
most notable feature.
Islands form the Galápagos
Province of Ecuador and are part of
the country's national park system.
The principal language on the islands
is Spanish. The islands have a population
of around 40,000, which is a 40-fold
expansion in 50 years.
The islands are geologically
young and famed for their vast number
of endemic species, which were studied
by Charles Darwin during the voyage
of the Beagle. His observations and
collections contributed to the inception
of Darwin's theory of evolution by
The first crude navigation
chart of the islands was done by the
buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684.
He named the individual islands after
some of his fellow pirates or after
the English noblemen who helped the
privateer's cause. More recently,
the Ecuadorian government gave most
of the islands Spanish names. While
the Spanish names are official, many
users (especially ecological researchers)
continue to use the older English
names, particularly as those were
the names used when Charles Darwin
Located in the eastern
Pacific Ocean at 973 km (604 miles)
off the west coast of South America.
The closest land mass is the mainland
of Ecuador to the east (the country
to which they belong), to the North
is Cocos Island 720 km (447 miles)
and to the South is Easter Island
and San Felix Island at 3200 km (1,990
The islands are found
at the coordinates 1°40'N-1°36'S,
the equator, islands in the chain
are located in both the northern and
southern hemisphere with Volcan Wolf
and Volcano Ecuador on Isla Isabela
being directly on the equator line.
Española the southernmost island
and Darwin the northernmost island
are spread out over a distance of
220 km (137 miles). The International
Hydrographic Organization (IHO) considers
them wholly within the South Pacific
Ocean, however. The Galapagos Archipelago
consists of 7,880 square km (3,042
sq. miles) of land spread over 45,000
square km (28,000 miles) of ocean.
The largest of the islands, Isabela,
measures 4,640 square km and making
up half of the total land area of
the Galapagos. Volcan Wolf, on Isabela
is the highest point with an elevation
of 1,707 m (5,600 ft.) above sea level.
The group consists of
13 main islands, 6 smaller islands,
and 107 rocks and islets. The islands
are located at the Galapagos Triple
Junction. It is also atop the Galapagos
hotspot, a place where the Earth's
crust is being melted from below by
a mantle plume, creating volcanoes.
The oldest island is thought to have
formed between 5 and 10 million years
ago. The youngest islands, Isabela
and Fernandina, are still being formed,
with the most recent volcanic eruption
in April 2009 where lava from the
volcanic island Fernandina started
flowing both towards the island's
shoreline and into the center caldera.
The laboratory for the
study of the origins of life. See the
amazing creatures Darwin first saw in
1835 -- giant tortoises, sea turtles,
flightless cormorants, iguanas and penguins
-- and venture deep in the ocean to
hot water vents connected to the core
of the earth.