Overrun by humans, Galapagos Islands crack down
The Galapagos Islands are totally hot right now. To tourists, the island chain 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador offers stunning biodiversity (blue-footed boobies!) that infamously inspired Charles Darwin to write The Origin of Species. To residents, the tourism-driven economy offers high wages, top-notch public schools, and a dearth of violent crime. But as more and more humans show up — the resident population has nearly doubled in the past decade to 30,000, while 180,000 tourists are expected to visit this year — they bring with them alien species and increased pollution. In response to a 2007 United Nations listing of the Galapagos as a World Heritage Site in Danger, the government has taken some steps to regulate tourism, but has resisted a hard cap on visitors. It is, however, cracking down on citizens: This year, 1,000 folks without residency and work permits have been kicked off the islands, while 2,000 others have in effect been told they must leave within a year.