The Galapagos Islands: Fun Facts

Galapagos sea lion


How much do you know about the Galapagos Islands?

Here are some fascinating factoids about the unique islands that are part of the Galapagos Archipelago.


  1. The islands are a bird and animal lovers paradise. Due to the uniqueness of the islands and ocean waters there are vast numbers of endemic species including: Galapagos land iguanas, marine iguana (the only iguana that feed in the sea), sea cucumbers, flightless cormorant, blue-footed booby, Galapagos mockingbirds, Galapagos Penguin, Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos hawk, great Frigatebird, waved Albatross, and over 50 species of fish.
  2. 5 ocean currents converge at the Galapagos islands. The currents create variable water temperatures and unpredictable tides in the area resulting in a unique marine ecology.
  3. The islands sit above the Galapagos hot spot where the Earth’s crust is being melted from below by a mantle plume, which creates volcanoes. The oldest of the islands, more then 4 million years old, are slowly disappearing back below sea level. The youngest islands are still in the process of being formed with 13 volcanic eruptions in the archipelago over the last 100 years.
  4. The islands are home to over 25,000 people. Only five of the islands are inhabited.
  5. The Galapagos are an archipelago of volcanic islands that span across the equator line, consisting of 21 islands and 107 islets or rocks.
  6. The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, 575 mi west of Ecuador, South America, and are a territory of Ecuador.
    • 17% of Galapagos fish species are endemic to the Galapagos Islands.
    • The Galapagos Islands are a bird watcher’s paradise. The islands are home to nearly 60 resident species, half of which are endemic (native to the Galapagos).
    • The Islands’ marine iguanas are only found in the Galapagos region. These are the only swimming lizards found anywhere in the world.
    • The famouse Galapagos penguin is the only type of penguin to live at the equator. An endangered species, there are less than 1,500 examples according to scientific studies.
  7. The official name of the Galapagos Islands is “Archipelago de Colon” in honor of Christopher Columbus, whose last name is “Colon” in Spanish.
  8. The name ‘galapagos’, an old Spanish word for ‘saddle’, was originally used by Bishop Tomas and his crew to describe the giant tortoises but the name stuck.
  9. The most famous resident of the Galapagos islands was Lonesome George (who we have met on previous AW trips!), was the only surviving giant Pinta Island tortoise left on Earth. He was known as the rarest creature in the world and died on the 24th June 2012 at the age of 100.
  10. The Galapagos imports most of its food and water, coffee being the exception. Coffee has been produced in the Galapagos dating back to 1869. Today, Starbucks is the biggest buyer and exporter of coffee from the islands.
  11. The US Dollar is the official currency.

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