Galápagos on the Map
Scattered on both sides of the equator, about 1,000 km west of the South American continent, lies an archipelago of over 230 volcanic islands, islets and rocks. The Galápagos Islands span a land area of approximately 8,000 km² (3,100 mi²), similar in size to Puerto Rico or Cyprus. They are spread over 45,000 km² (17,000 mi²) of ocean in an expanse slightly bigger than Denmark. More than half of the land belong to the largest island, Isabela.
The distance between the most northwest Darwin Island and the most southeast Española is more than 430 km (230 Nm). The combined coastline of the islands measures 1,350 km (839 mi), more than mainland Ecuador. The highest elevation point is Wolf Volcano on Isabela at 1,707 m (5,600 ft).
The Galápagos Islands and their surrounding waters belong to Ecuador, as the Galápagos Province. The islands were frequently renamed during history of gradual discovery and re-drawing of nautical charts. The island of Santa Cruz has had thirteen different names before the Ecuadorian government christened the Galápagos Archipiélago del Ecuador in 1832, laying claim to the territory for the first time. The other islands also received their new official names then. Archipiélago de Colón became the official name in 1892.
© 2023 Josef Litt
Only five of the islands are inhabited. The census, conducted throughout Ecuador in 2010, counted just over 25,000 legal residents, 1,800 temporary residents, and up to 5,000 residents whose status was characterised as “irregular”. It is estimated that some 40,000 people live on the islands now, in 2017.
The provincial capital is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal. Almost half of the population lives in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. The other inhabited islands are Isabela, Floreana and Baltra, which has a small naval base and airport facilities. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Baltra accommodate two international airports, although to date only private planes have arrived from beyond Ecuador. A third airport near Puerto Villamil on Isabela handles flights between the islands.
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