QUITO – The Ecuadorian Galapagos Islands celebrated on Saturday 40 years of the declaration of the archipelago as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, a recognition that was hailed by several national institutions in the country.
The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, tweeted: “We celebrate one more anniversary of the declaration of Galapagos as the World Heritage Site! Let’s preserve and protect the Enchanted Islands, Ecuador’s legacy to the future of humanity!”
In 1978, this title was awarded to the archipelago by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for its collection of flora and fauna unique in the world, a large part of whose species are endemic, which led to the islands management by a special regime that safeguards its conservation.
Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment also took to Twitter to say that the islands were the first site in the world to be included in the prestigious UNESCO list which currently has 222 sites.
The Ecuadorian foreign ministry recalled the fact that four decades ago UNESCO recognized the country’s unique nature and called on the population to conserve its biodiversity: “Let’s preserve this unique place in the world, found in Ecuador.”
The archipelago is located in the Pacific Ocean at 972 kilometers (604 miles) from the Ecuadorian coastline and has tourism as its main source of income with around 200,000 visitors a year.
The islands are home to species including sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, whales, coral reefs, frigatebirds, iguanas, lizards, cormorants, albatrosses, sea lions and penguins.
Popularly known as Enchanted Islands, they are located on the equatorial line crossing the north of Isabela Island, the site of numerous earthquakes due to the tectonic plates nearby and is the second most active volcanic archipelago on the planet, after Hawaii.