Introduction

The Galápagos Islands sit astride the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles / 926 km west of their sovereign country, the Republic of Ecuador in South America. These tiny islands are actually the tips of ancient volcanoes (many of which are still active) and consist of 13 large islands and 6 smaller ones plus 42 islets; the total land surface is 8,000 km². The principal language on the islands is Spanish and the islands have a population of just over 25,000. The capital is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the Island of San Cristóbal although Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz has a larger population. The Galápagos Islands is one of the few places in the world without an indigenous population. It has a mixed cultural heritage with two main descendant groups: the Ecuadorian Mestizos, descendants of Spanish Colonists and indigenous Native Americans and the European Spanish Colonists; some descendants of the early settlers still live on the islands today.