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Ecuador: Galapagos Islands Advance in 7 New Wonders Competition

After the second round of voting, Ecuador boasts two candidates for the online competition for the Seven New Wonders of the World: The Galapagos Islands (B-Islands) and the Amazonian Region (F – Forests, National Parks and Nature Reserves). Many are more familiar with the Galapagos, an archipelago comprised of 125 large and small islands of volcanic origin and in which 97% of the territory is a protected area under the category of National Park.

This zone in the Pacific Ocean is easily recognizable because of its fauna like Solitary George, the 70-year-old giant turtle who is unable to find a suitable mate. He is in danger of extinction because he is the only type of this turtle still in existence. Other species in danger of extinction include the medium tree-finch (pinzón) [es] and the pink iguana [es]. Many of these were the basis of Charles Darwin's studies.

Ecuadorians are congratulated for its early success in the competition, and the government claims that such success can be attributed to the Minister of Tourism, Veronica Sion and her fight to get the UNESCO to review its decision in 2007 to include the Galapagos Islands on the list of heritage places in danger.

A warning notice to all visitors placed by the Commandant of the 2nd. Ecuadorian Naval Zone. Photo used under Creative Commons license by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonpearce/

A warning notice to all visitors placed by the Commandant of the 2nd. Ecuadorian Naval Zone. Photo used under Creative Commons license by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonpearce/

Ecuadorian bloggers like Waldemar Verdugo Fuentes of Islas Galápagos, Reserva de la Humanidad [es] are especially proud of the Islands and he relates what it was like to be on the islands for a second time. He also observed some changes caused by more residents and increased tourism on the island.

Otro problema igualmente grave es la migración de colonos del continente, que son atraídos por el “dólar fácil” del turismo. La tasa de crecimiento poblacional de la provincia de Galápagos asciende a 6 por ciento anual, la más alta de Ecuador (promedio nacional 2.08). Actualmente, 16 mil habitantes pueblan la región. Demasiados colonos para unas islas que exigen una rigurosa disciplina de vida. Los asentamientos urbanos conllevan la sobreexplotación de los recursos marinos, la acumulación de desechos, introducción de enfermedades, plantas e insectos, avispas, babosas, pulgones, 21 especies de vertebrados foráneos (chivos, perros, cerdos, gatos, ratas) y 261 plantas introducidas desde el continente, como la guayaba y la mora.

Another major problem is the migration of settlers from the continent, which are attracted by the “easy dollar” from tourism. The rate of population growth in the Galapagos increases by 6 percent annually, which is the highest in Ecuador (whose national average is 2.08). Currently, 16,000 residents live in the region. Too many settlers for islands that require a rigorous lifestyle discipline. The urban brings the over-exploitation of the marine resources, the accumulation of waste, the introduction of diseases, plants, and insects, wasps, slugs, aphids, 21 species of non-native vertebrates (goats, dogs, pigs, cats, rats), and 261 plants introduced from the continent like the guava and the blackberry.
Pond full of tortoises, relatives of the Islands symbol at  Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. Photo used under Creative Commons by http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathb/

Pond full of tortoises, relatives of the Islands symbol at Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. Photo used under Creative Commons by http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathb/

Carlos Jordan, writing for Tecnodatum [es] explains what other islands the Galapagos are competing against, and stresses the importance of the economic impact if they emerge as one of the New Wonders. However, he expects the flow of tourist will increase, and hopes that this does not destroy theses islands.

Xavier Loor has been following the event and encouraging the vote for the Archipelago of Galapagos [es]. He says this is only a possibility that will become a reality only with support of all of his readers. In just a week, it went from being in the 8th position, and it is now No.1 in Group B (Islands), followed by Cocos Island (Costa Rica) and Ometepe Island (Nicaragua).

Despite all of the excitement of the Galapagos Islands, Ayllyn N. Franco of Bludger Hecha Letras [es] makes a point to let everyone know that Ecuador also has the Amazonian region in the competition. She believes Ecuadorians must support his or her country and shows the voting path to follow.

In mid-July we will know the 77 finalists for the best places in the world to visit, with the winners announced in 2011. For those interested in supporting the Galapagos Islands vote here and vote for the nine countries linked by the Amazon, River/Forest, which also includes Ecuador.

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