Ecuador may be smaller than the other South American giants like Brazil and Argentina – but don’t let its size fool you! This country is home to picturesque colonial towns, lush rainforests, and the enchanting Galapagos Islands. Its geographical location has made this humble country a haven for both flora and fauna, making Ecuador a perfect blend of natural and cultural beauty. Fancy a visit? Check out these 25 facts before you go to Ecuador.
Fact 1: Ecuador is a country on South America’s west coast.
- It’s bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west.
Fact 2: 1,000 km west of Ecuador’s mainland is the famous Galapagos Islands.
- The country’s capital city is Quito which is also Ecuador’s largest city.
Fact 3: Different Amerindian groups once inhabited modern-day Ecuador.
- They were gradually incorporated into the Inca Empire during the 15th century.
Fact 4: Ecuador’s official language is Spanish.
- Majority of the country’s population speaks Spanish, and 13 other Amerindian languages like Quichua and Shuar.
Fact 5: It’s home to a number of endemic plants and animals.
- Ecuador is particularly famous for its various orchids.
Fact 6: The Cinchona tree is Ecuador’s national tree.
- The tree produces Quinine, which was the first drug used to counter malaria.
Fact 7: Ecuador granted political asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on April 12, 2019.
- Assange was under investigation by the US government and faced extradition to Sweden.
Fact 8: In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to officially recognize nature’s rights and its importance.
- Instead of treating its natural resources as a commodity and property, Ecuador sought to give nature constitutional rights. According to Ecuador’s constitution, “Nature has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.”
Fact 9: Ecuador’s highest mountain is Mount Chimborazo.
- Since Chimborazo is located along the equatorial bulge, its summit is the furthest point from Earth’s core, and is also the point on Earth that is closest to the sun.
Fact 10: It’s one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world.
- Ecuador has the most biodiversity per square kilometre than any other nation.
Fact 11: On October 9, 1820, Guayaquil became the first city in Ecuador to gain its independence from Spain.
- Ecuador’s official Independence Day, on the other hand, is celebrated on May 24.
Fact 12: Ecuador covers a total area of 283,561 km2 which includes the Galápagos Islands.
- The country is bigger than Uruguay, Suriname, Guyana and French Guyana in South America.
Fact 13: La Costa, or “The coast”, is Ecuador’s most fertile and productive land.
- It’s where the majority of the country’s banana exportation is sourced. It’s also where most of the country’s rice is grown.
Fact 14: 15% of the world’s known bird species are found in Ecuador.
- The country is home to 1,600 species of birds, 38 of which are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll also find over 16,000 plant species, 6,000 butterfly species, and 106 native reptile species in Ecuador.
Fact 15: The Galápagos Islands is famous for being the birthplace of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
- Sadly, despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the existence of the Galapagos’ exotic ecosystem is constantly under threat. Moreover, oil exploitation of the Amazon rainforest has led to the release of billions of gallons of untreated wastes, gas, and crude oil into the environment, contaminating ecosystems and causing detrimental health to the people.
Fact 16: In 1835, Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands.
- His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection.
Fact 17: Ecuador has adopted the US dollar as its official currency.
- The Sacagawea or the dollar coin is widely used in the country.
Fact 18: It got its name from the word “Equator”, the imaginary line that runs around the middle of planet Earth.
- The equator also runs through Gabon, Uganda and 11 other countries.
Fact 19: Guinea pigs, locally known as “Cuy”, are considered a delicacy in the country.
- Ecuadorians commonly consume “sopa”, or “locro de cuy’, which is a soup dish.
Fact 20: The Panama hat originated in Ecuador.
- The Panama hat is a traditional brimmed straw hat made from the plaited leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, known locally as the toquilla palm, or jipijapa palm.
Fact 21: It’s been voted as the best country for expats two years in a row.
- Quality of life, cost of living, and personal finances, were all cited as excellent reasons to up sticks and head to Ecuador.
Fact 22: Ecuador is divided into four main and unique geographic regions.
- The 4 regions include La Costa or “the coast”, La Sierra or “the highlands”, La Amazonía, also known as El Oriente or “the east”, and La Región Insular, the region comprising the Galápagos Islands.
Fact 23: Ecuador has both the first and the second UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- The city of Quito was the first cultural World Heritage site, and the second the Galapagos Islands.
Fact 24: With an elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level, Quito is the world’s second highest official capital city.
- The historic centre of the City of Quito has retained many of the old structures that date back to the colonial period. You can still see the traditional town layout, magnificent churches, and cobblestone streets.
Fact 25: Ecuador is home to an Iguana park.
- The Iguana Park in Guayaquil, also known as Parque de las Iguanas, is a safe haven for a large population of iguanas.