The Galapagos National Park is perhaps the most famous marine reserve in South America and was established in 1959. It was Ecuador’s first national park and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Galapagos Islands are in fact an archipelago made up of 13 main volcanic islands, 6 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets lying approximately 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador. As a marine reserve it has legal protection against fishing or development and helps sustain the many species of plant and animal that inhabit its area as well as help protect marine habitats including coral reefs, cold ocean currents and mangrove swamps. The waters around the Galapagos Islands are home to over 3000 different plant and animal species and on the islands the world famous giant tortoises rule the scrubland.