Ecuador and the Galapagos Island

Ecuador is a country in Latin America bordered by Colombia, Peru and by the Pacific Ocean. It also includes the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador was named after the equator, which passes through it, about 40 km north of Quito, its capital city. Quito was the first World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 1978, (along with Krakow, Poland) for its historic center. Cuenca, the third largest city, was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.

Little girl welcoming us

Ecuador became independent from Spain after Antonio José de Sucre defeated the Spanish Royalists and Ecuador joined Simon Bolivar’s Republic of Gran Colombia in 1822. It was also part of the Great Inca Empire since 1463. Quito was the capital of the Northern Inca Empire led by Atahualpa, who killed his brother Huascar based in Cuzco (Peru) in 1530 and conquered the entire empire.

Actress in Quito

Many animal species live in Ecuador, some of them endemic, like those of the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are an archipelago of a dozen of volcanic islands situated around the equator in the Pacific Ocean about 1, 000 km from continental Ecuador. Although located on the equator, the Antarctic Humboldt Current brings cold water to the Galapagos Islands, causing frequent rains and chilly air. The islands take their name from the giant tortoises living there; Galapagos in Spanish (literally, the tortoises you can gallop on). The islands unique biodiversity was made famous by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection. He visited the islands in 1835 during his voyage as a young naturalist. He noticed that on each island, the weather conditions were not the same and that the animals were slightly different from another island and very different from their continental cousins. He then expressed the theory that animals adapt to their environment by natural selection over thousands of years. His work, published many years after the expedition, was so criticized that he was first caricatured as a monkey by the scientific community and treated like the devil by the Church. Now his theory is considered the most plausible for explaining the evolution of the Humanity since the dinosaurs.

Teen George is already 140!

The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a protected natural park.

Over 1,500 people visit the islands every day, and this number is strictly controlled. There is a tax of 120 USD to be paid by each tourist. You cannot walk on the islands on your own; you must be accompanied by a licensed local guide. You are not allowed to touch any animal, not even to stay closer than 2 meters from it. These measures are taken in order to maintain the natural conditions unchanged for the animals. As a result, the islands are full of red chest frigates, blue-footed bobbies, sea turtles, giant tortoises, orange striped crabs, sea and land iguanas, sea lions, albatrosses, all living peacefully together and tolerating the presence of tourists at only a few meters from them. Even curious lizards and mocking birds come very close to you, as if they know they are the landlords of the islands.

Galapagos sally crab

Blue footed booby

Galapagos sea lions


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • © Sebastian Zelechowski, Moscow 2011
%d bloggers like this: