Galápagos IslandsGa·lá·pa·gos Islands
group of islands belonging to Ecuador, in the Pacific on the equator: 3,093 sq mi (8,011 sq km)
A group of volcanic islands lying along the equator in the Pacific Ocean west of the mainland of Ecuador. The islands are famous for their rare animal species, including the giant tortoises for which they are named. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835 and collected a wealth of scientific data that contributed to his theory of natural selection. Tourism is now regulated to protect the islands' many endemic and endangered species.