Ahoy! Climb aboard the S.S. Wonderopolis as we set sail for the Galápagos Islands. We’re excited for a fantastic voyage to a special place full of wildlife!

Exactly where are we headed, though? The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago, which means a group or cluster of islands. They’re located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, a little over 600 miles west of Ecuador.

The Galápagos Islands are officially a province of the country of Ecuador. They’re also a national park and a biological marine reserve. The group consists of 15 main islands, 3 small islands and over 100 rocks and tiny islands. Altogether, the islands add up to over 3,000 square miles of land spread over 17,000 square miles of ocean!

About 25,000 people call the Galápagos Islands home. The Galápagos Islands aren’t famous for their people or their tropical beaches, though. Instead, these volcanic islands are known for the wide variety of wildlife that calls them home.

Compared to most of Earth, the Galápagos Islands are fairly young. In fact, active volcanoes are still adding to and helping to form the youngest islands in the group.

Because of a lack of natural predators and the small number of humans that live there, the Galápagos Islands feature a stunning number of unique species. For example, a wide variety of reptiles can be found there, including marine iguanas, land iguanas, lava lizards, geckos and snakes.

Many interesting types of birds can be found on the islands, too. The various species of finches found there are often called Darwin’s finches after famous scientist Charles Darwin, who studied the wildlife there. Other birds found only on the islands include unique species of hawks, doves, flycatchers, rails and mockingbirds.

The Galápagos Islands also feature some interesting sea birds, such as the flightless cormorant, the waved albatross and the rare blue-footed booby. The islands are also home to the only penguin species that lives in tropical waters.

Sea lions, fur seals, dolphins and whales are also common in the islands. However, perhaps the most famous resident of the Galápagos Islands is the giant tortoise. The islands were actually named after these creatures — galápago means tortoise in Spanish.

Giant Galápagos tortoises are the largest tortoises in the world. The largest one ever measured was over five feet long and weighed over 500 pounds! These giants can live to be over 100 years old.

Unfortunately, they’re also endangered. Scientists have been working hard to help the different species of tortoises make a comeback. Today, scientists estimate there are between 3,000 to 5,000 tortoises living on the Galápagos Islands.

20 Join the Discussion

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    • WOWEE, Mo! What a great way to start the day! :) We are so HAPPY you enjoyed learning about the Galápagos Islands with us! We hope you have a WONDERful Friday! :)

    • What a WONDERful and thoughtful comment, Jenna– and a great big HELLO to you!! We are so glad to have you here, WONDERing with us! Thanks for joining in on the fun. Have a WONDERful day! :)

  1. I liked today’s WONDER. I forgot that Darwin went to the Galápagos Islands. I think tomorrow’s WONDER will be about how George Washington and how he came to never tell lies.

    Emily =)

    • Great connection to Darwin, Emily! We are THRILLED how much you are learning about the very important Galápagos Islands! Also, SUPER guessing as usual! You are certainly warm! Have a GREAT Friday! :)

    • We love hearing more about the famous islands, Carlos! We are SUPER excited to know that you have continued to research the reptiles that live on those islands– such WONDERful information to share with us! Thank you for being an AWESOME Wonder Friend! :)

  2. I loved today’s WONDER!
    The video was really superb!
    I WONDER how many claws an iguana has?
    I just saw my favourites- turtles and dolphins!
    My favourite exercise is canoeing (it’s great fun!).
    First time to see igunas dance!
    P.S. ~ What is an albatross?
    :)

    • Your curiosity makes us SMILE, Sophie! We are oh-so-happy that you are excited to Wonder about the Galápagos Islands and all its inhabitants! :)

      We Wonder if you can do some more research of your own to find out more information about iguanas and albatrosses. We’ll give you a hint: they are a large, flying and swooping kind of animal! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • WOHOO, we’re glad those gigantic reptiles on the Galápagos Islands made you smile, Cortney! We think it would be quite an adventure to visit the Galápagos Islands someday! :)

    • YIPPEE, we’re glad that our exploratory Wonder captured your interest, qwertyuiop! Thanks for leaving your awesome comment at Wonderopolis today! :)

    • We appreciate your feedback, London! We’re sorry that some of the topics at Wonderopolis bore you, but we try to cover an array of interests so all our Wonder Friends can have fun at Wonderopolis! We really appreciate your comment– your thoughts matter to us! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where are the Galápagos Islands?
  • Why are the Galápagos Islands famous?
  • What types of wildlife might you see on a visit to the Galápagos Islands?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to take a trip to the Galápagos Islands? If you can’t board a ship bound for the Pacific Ocean, grab a computer and head online instead!

Take the Galápagos Virtual Tour online to explore the sights and sounds of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. You’ll find atlases, photo galleries and full panoramic views of the islands and their spectacular inhabitants!

If you want to learn even more about the giant Galápagos tortoises, check out these fun videos online:

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Xpeditions’ Leatherback Sea Turtles and Their Special Compasses lesson, children will learn some basic information about leatherback sea turtles and hypothesize why individual leatherbacks were able to find their way from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands without any obvious navigational aids.

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