The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón, other Spanish names: Islas Galápagos, Spanish pronunciation: [ˈislas gaˈlapaɣos]) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 906 km (563 mi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.
The Galápagos Islands and their 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 famed for their vast number of endemic species and 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.