The Islands are located 1000km from the west coast of Ecuador.
This makes plumes of superhot magma rise to the surface, creating volcanoes.
This makes the sea floor shallower in places.
This creates a greater level of upwelling — where cold ocean currents are forced to the surface.
This has allowed species to evolve without the influence of others from the mainland.
This has created a constantly changing landscape to which animals and plants are always adapting.
This creates hydrothermal vents which create a warmer and more nutrient rich localised environment.
This brings cool air, making the Islands milder and drier than the rest of the Tropics.
This brings water rich in nutrients to the surface which is needed by phytoplankton (primary producers).
The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean on the Nazca Plate. They are moving southeastwards at a rate of 5cm a year.
The cold water Humboldt Current flows north from Antarctica along the west coast of South America.
All of these factors combine to create the distinctive characteristics of the Galapagos Islands. A wide variety of marine and terrestrial habitats are able to support rare plant and animal species and create a unique natural landscape.