The Galápagos Islands are part of the territory of the Republic of Ecuador, and are located in the Pacific Ocean on the Equator Line, approximately 960 kilometres from the continental Ecuador, between 1º20’ latitude north and 1º0’ southern latitude and between 89º and 92º western longitude.
The archipelago is formed by 19 large islands and 200 small islands and rocks totalling approximately 8,010 square Km, dispersed throughout an area of 70,000 square Km.
In 1973, the archipelago was incorporated as the twenty-second province of Ecuador, with the cantons of Isabela, Santa Cruz, and San Cristóbal Island, where Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the province is located.
From a total land area of 788,200 hectares, 96.7% (that is 761,844 hectares) are National Park and Natural Heritage for Humanity; the rest, 3.3% (26,356 hectares) are a colonized zone with urban and farm areas.
Baltra Island is also part of those protected areas, but it is under the control of an Ecuadorian Navy Base and Air Force base with its airport.
There are three subsystems in the protected area: Land Park, Marine Reserve and Human use areas.
The Carnegie ridge connects the archipelago with the South American continent while the Cocos ridge connects it with Central America. Evidence shows that these submarine chains were never part of the continental plate.