Children with Marine Iguanas in Galapagos Islands
One of the most magical, real life places on earth for children is the Galapagos Islands. The archipelago, located nearly 600 miles off of the coast of Ecuador, are blessed with a plethora of wonderful wildlife (under water, on land and in the air!), weird history, desert-like vegetation (in the tropics!), hauntingly beautiful scenery and interesting geology.

And as with any real living science museum, the Galapagos Archipelago is an incredible destination for children to learn about! Here are a handful of fun Galapagos facts.

1. Here’s your first quiz question: who discovered the Galapagos Islands? Was it A) pre-historic people; B) Charles Darwin; C) Tomás de Berlanga; or D) Christopher Columbus?

Answer: While pieces of pre-historic artifacts have been discovered, the first recorded discovery was in 1535 by Tomás de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama (300 years before Darwin). At the time Berlanga was en route from Panama to Peru when he sailed well off course, accidentally discovering, what would become arguably the most famous islands in the world. Apparently though he wanted little to do with the Galapagos and left pretty quickly, after describing the barren islands as “hell”.

2. The Galapagos is an archipelago of volcanic islands that span across the Earth’s equatorial line, covering over 17,000 square miles (45,000 km²) of ocean. In fact, the islands represent one of the most active hot spots of the world, with eruptions that occur regularly. As a result, the Galapagos Islands are often compared to the also-extremely-active Hawaiian Islands as among the most active on earth.

3. The Galapagos were first dubbed the Enchanted Isles by early Spaniards, as the islands periodically disappeared into the thick fog and could not be seen by passing ships. This has been reinforced by their haunting beauty, as well as rich and oft strange history. More recently, because of their volcanic origins, the Galapagos are often called “Islands Born of Fire.”

4. The youngest of these islands born of fire, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed by volcanic eruptions and lava flows, while the oldest islands and islets in the archipelago, which are over 4 million years old, are slowly disappearing back below the surface of the sea. In fact, there are significant land masses below the surface of the sea that were once islands.

eruption of wolf volcano from the Letty

Wolf volcano erupting on Isabela. © Charles W. Anderson

5. Overall, the Galapagos Archipelago consists of 13 major islands, 6 minor islands, and over 100 islets (which are basically large rock or reef formations), covering 17,000 square miles), depending on who you talk to.

6. Do you know which country the Galapagos Islands, which became a national park in 1959 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, belong to?: A) USA; B) England; C) Chile; or D) Ecuador?

Answer: Here’s a clue already mentioned earlier – they lie across the “equator”.

Don’t miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands with Natural Habitat Adventures on a family journey or on their Classic Galapagos cruise.