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Coordinates: 0°33′37″S 91°2′27″W / 0.56028°S 91.04083°W
Galápagos is a province of Ecuador in the country's Insular region, located approximately 1,000 km (620 mi) off the western coast of the mainland. The capital is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
The province administers the Galápagos Islands, a group of tiny volcanic islands that sit on the equator. The Galápagos Islands have for centuries captured the interest of people from all over the globe because of its unique biodiversity that was made famous by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.
It is estimated that the islands were formed 8 million years ago as a result of tectonic activity on the seabed. The archipelago was likely inhabited long ago: the explorer Thor Heyerdahl in 1963 reported that he found the Inca archaeological sites and objects. The Galapagos Islands were discovered by chance on 10 March 1535 , when the Dominican friar Fray Tomas de Berlanga , Bishop of Panama, went to Peru in pursuance of an order of the Spanish monarch, Charles V , to arbitrate in a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and his subordinates after the conquest of the Inca empire . Because of a calm and strong currents, the ship of Bishop was dragged to the Galapagos. In chronicling his adventure, directed from Portoviejo Emperor Charles V on the discovery of the Galapagos Islands, Berlanga described the bleak desert conditions in the islands and the giant tortoises that inhabited them. He also described the marine iguanas, sea lions and many types of birds, emphasizing the unusual mildness of animals and expressed in the following words: Traxo the ship very good time breezes seven days, that the pilot haziase near the ground and calm diones six days the currents were so large, we engolfaron so that Wednesday March 10, we saw an island and because the ship had no more water for two days, agreed to take the boat and going ashore for water and grass for the horses. E hatched ... but found no sea lions, turtles and tortoises and so great a man wearing one above, and many who are like serpents higuanas. Another day another island we is greater than that of large mountains, and believing there for his greatness and its monstrosity that could not fail to have rivers and fruits, fuiemos to it, because the first baxaria ten or twelve leagues, and in this quen water vessel bebiose Abia and spent three days in taking the island, with calm, in the ombres quales there as we suffered many work horses.
Early Explorations 
The first maps to include the islands were prepared by Abraham Ortelius and Mercator around 1570. The islands were described as "the Galopegos Insulae" (Turtle Island). The Galapagos were used by pirates hideout in English as trips to plunder Spanish galleons carrying gold and silver from America to Spain. The first known pirate who visited the islands was Richard Hawkins , in 1593 . From then until 1816 many pirates came to the archipelago.
Alexander Selkirk, the man whose adventures on the islands of Juan Fernandez inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe, visited the Galapagos in 1708 after he was rescued from the island of Juan Fernández by the privateer Woodes Rogers. Rogers was the archipelago to repair their ships after sacking Guayaquil .
The first scientific mission that visited the Galapagos was the Malaspina expedition, a Spanish expedition led by Alejandro Malaspina, who arrived in 1790. However, the records of the expedition were never published. In 1793, James Collnet described the flora and fauna of the islands and suggested they could be used as base for the whalers operating in the Pacific Ocean. Collnet also drew the first charts of the Galapagos. These whalers captured and killed thousands of turtles in the archipelago to extract their oil. Also, because the turtles could survive for months without food or drink, they were transported in ship holds as "living cupboards" to be slaughtered. They provided fresh protein on the long journeys typical of whaling ships. Hunting of these turtles was the cause of the large decrease of their population, and in some cases the destruction of certain species of the Galapagos Tortoise.
Political divisions 
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The province is divided in three cantons, each encompassing a number of islands. They are:
||Darwin, Fernandina, Isabela, Wolf
||Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
||Española, Floreana, Genovesa, San Cristóbal, Santa Fe
||Baltra, Bartolomé, Marchena, North Seymour, Pinta, Pinzón, Rábida, Santa Cruz, Santiago
||Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
See also 
- ^ (Spanish) Censo de Población y Vivienda, Galápagos 2006. Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Censos (INEC).
External links