from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • A group of volcanic islands lying along the equator in the Pacific Ocean west of the mainland of Ecuador. The islands are famous for their rare species of fauna, including the giant tortoises for which they are named. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835 and collected a wealth of scientific data that contributed to his theory of natural selection. Tourism is now strictly regulated to protect the endangered species unknown outside the archipelago.


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