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Galapagos Islands: A Primer
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The experience that most enthralls vistors to the Galapagos Islands is how close one can get to the animals. The blue footed boobies, iguanas and turtles of Galapagos seemingly have no fear! This, of course, is explained by the fact that the animals on Galapagos have evolved without any natural predators. To the animals, you are merely a curiosity and not a threat.

The islands are considered to be a "living museum". Due to the fact that they are bathed by three important marine currents (cold Humboldt, cold Sub Equatorial Counter Current, warm Panama) a great variety of fish and aquatic animals come together in its waters. The islands isolation, volcanic topography and characteristic climate have conspired to provide a place for new species like the land iguana, the giant Galapagos tortoise and other species to thrive.

Visiting the Galapagos is a venture into the geological past; the scenery has remained unaltered for thousands of years. The numerous volcanoes and petrified lava flows preserve the memory of the brutal encounter between water and fire that gave origin to these islands-- and continues still.

One can only wonder what Charles Darwin was thinking as he walked about these peculiar islands 170 years ago. Of all of Galapagos wondrous sights, it was the small variations in the shape of the beaks of the islands' finches that ultimately cemented the theory of Evolution and Natural Selection in Darwin's brain. This history makes coming to Galapagos for the naturalist akin to visiting Jerusalem or Mecca for the pious.

The Galapagos are located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, 90 degrees west of the Greenwich Meridian on the equatorial line. The archipelago consists of 13 large islands and 6 smaller ones plus 42 islets. The total land surace area is 8000 square kilometers. The largest island is Isabela which also happens to be the twelfth largest island in the South Pacific.

The highest point on the islands is Wolf Volcano (1707 meters) on Isabela Island.


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