Galápagos Islands or Turtle Islands (official name: es. Archipiélago de Colón or Columbus Archipelago) is an archipelago of volcanic origin in the Pacific Ocean, on the equator, approx. 960 km off the west coast of South America. The islands belong to Ecuador, and their area of 7.8 thousand. km².
The zone around the islands offers abundance of fish, particularly shark and sea cucumbers. General fishing in the Marine Reserve Galapagos is allowed subject to conditions, with special provisions and restrictions apply to certain species.
The tourists usually come by plane on the Galapagos Islands (Baltra airport and San Cristóbal) and then come to a most organized group travel. In the case of group travel are cruises or land-based tours. The most important ports for cruise tourists are Baltra, Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno) Due to the intervention of UNESCO, the crowds are now heavily controlled and directed. Since 2009 new control system was introduced: the so-called INGALA Transit Control Card. This is a kind of electronic visa that must be purchased on the Galapagos Islands before departure.
The most important for tourism are islands: the island of Santa Cruz with the town of Puerto Ayora (tourist center of the archipelago with very good tourist infrastructure), the island of San Cristóbal with the city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (administrative seat and second-largest airport), the island of Isabela the town of Puerto Villamil (you also will find a small airport) and Floreana with the settlement of Puerto Velasco Ibarra. The tourist importance of Baltra Island and South Seymour is limited to ownership of the main airports and cruise port.
The islands are spread to the north and south of the equator, which crosses the northern part of the largest, Isabela. The oldest date back about 4 million years, while the youngest are still being formed. The archipelago is considered to be one of the most volcanically active of the Earth.
The relative isolation due to the distance from the mainland and the wide variety of climates and habitats due to ocean currents in the area have led to the evolution of many endemic species of plants and animals, from whose observation Charles Darwin drew inspiration for the formulation of theory of evolution. His famous The Origin of Species contains numerous references to its studies on endemic Galápagos.