Most cruises to the Galapagos Islands begin and end in Quito, Ecuador, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic centre in Latin America. From there, it's easy to reach and enjoy any of Ecuador's beaches and to make the jaunt to the Galapagos Islands, made famous by their vast numbers of endemic species and their role in helping Charles Darwin form his theory of evolution. In 1959, the centenary year of Charles Darwin's publication of The Origin of Species, the Ecuadorian government declared 97.5% of the archipelago's land area a national park, excepting areas already colonised. The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) was founded the same year.

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