Galápagos Islands

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(Redirected from Archipiélago de Colón)

Galápagos Islands (or Archipiélago de Colón, Islas de Colón, Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km (500 nmi) west of continental Ecuador. The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.

The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

Prison Island

Between 1946 and 1959, the Ecuadorean government used 1,790-square-mile Isabela, the largest island in the Galápagos chain, as an agriculture and penal colony. Some 300 prisoners—hardened criminals and political dissidents—were incarcerated there under extremely harsh conditions. Guards ordered them to build a wall out of lava rocks brought from a distant crater—a wall that served no purpose. A number of prisoners, slaving under the hot equatorial sun, are thought to have died during its construction. Today the wall is all that remains of the penal colony and is known as the Muro de las Lagrimas, the Wall of Tears.

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