The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago in the eastern Pacific Ocean. They lie on the equator about 1000 km west of the Ecuadorian coast of South America, belong to Ecuador and Galapagos form of the same province with the capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The word Galápago refers to the turtle shell, which is arched like a saddle on the neck of some subspecies of Galapagos giant tortoise.
The extraordinary and unique flora and fauna of the islands are part of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. They are protected by the National Park of the Galapagos Islands. Approximately 97% of the area of the Galapagos Islands and 99% of the surrounding waters within the exclusive economic zone are thus strictly protected. The agricultural and fishing use, and entering the islands and navigating the waters are strictly regulated and controlled by the National Park Service, based in Puerto Ayora.