The word Galapago "in old Spanish language", was used to describe the frontal piece of a riding saddle.
When the first settlers in these Islands saw the thousands of Giant Tortoises the Islands had in earlier years, and after looking at the shape of their carapace (shell), they named this archipelago with this "particular word."
Among the first groups that came to the Islands, we had many of Spanish origin, that's also why the official name of the Islands since 1892 is Archipelago of Columbus.
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When you visit these enchanted Islands keep in mind that it would not be a complete trip if you don't see the wonderful giant tortoises.
These giant reptiles are the emblem of the Islands, and there are only two places on Earth where you find them in their natural habitat.
The first place is of course the Archipelago of Columbus which is located off the coast of South America in the Pacific Ocean.
Some Islands of this Archipelago have a fair good number Giant tortoises.
The second place where you can find these Giant reptiles is located right on the Indian Ocean, and north of the Seychelles, in a small atoll called Aldabra.
Many people think that currently you can see Giant tortoises everywhere, but the truth is far from what most believe.
The Tortoises in the Archipelago were heavily hunted in past centuries during the whaling time (perhaps the most destructive human activity ever on the Islands), and have had a hard time recovering.
Today the presence of introduced mammals has added tremendous danger as they prey on young tortoises, and others create competition for feeding grounds.
But fortunately the Islands' National Park with the aid of Charles Darwin Foundation are always working to preserve the Islands' wildlife and environment.
Well, now you know the official story on the origin of this particular word, "which means saddle".
But unfortunately a good number of books still carry the wrong version by saying that this word means tortoise.
Next time you see a riding saddle, think of the word Galapago... and the shape of the shell of giant tortoises.
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