Whether it’s its nature, its wildlife or its richly preserved culture, the diverse country of Ecuador is sure to amaze its visitors.
Despite its small size compared with South America’s giant neighbors Brazil and Argentina, Ecuador is home to a wide range of wonders.
With picturesque colonial towns, unspoilt Amazon rainforest, spectacular peaks in the Andes along the Avenue of Volcanoes and, of course, the mythical Galapagos Islands archipelago, both fragile and unique in the world, Ecuador is a land of many treasures.
Here are a few interesting facts and anecdotes about Ecuador, gleaned from our experiences and readings there.
2 – In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to officially recognize the rights of nature. Rather than treating nature as property, Ecuador recognizes that nature has constitutional rights and has the “right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.”
3 – Ecuador has the highest biodiversity per square kilometer in the world, both plant and animal. For example, more than 300 tree species per hectare have been recorded in some regions, and there are around 3,500 different orchids.
4 – Ecuador is named after the equator that runs through the country. Indeed, it is the only country in the world officially named after a geographical feature.
5 – Ecuador’s national tree is the cinchona tree, which produces quinine, the first drug used to prevent and treat malaria. Science owes the first serious botanical information on cinchona to the astronomer Charles-Marie de La Condamine and Joseph de Jussieu. While working on measuring the arc of the meridian near Quito, they took advantage of their presence in the country to investigate the origin of the famous Peruvian bark.
6 – The summit of the Chimborazo volcano, Ecuador’s highest mountain, is the Earth’s closest point to the sun. Due to the volcano’s location along the equatorial rim, its summit is the furthest point from the Earth’s core. This also means that Ecuador is the closest country to space.
7 – Ecuador boasts the first and second UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. At the inaugural UNESCO World Heritage Conference in 1978, 32 sites were initially designated, the first two being the Galapagos Islands (1) and the colonial city of Quito (2).
8 – Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is 2,850m above sea level, making it the highest official capital in the world. La Paz in Bolivia may be higher, but it is not the constitutional capital of Bolivia (which is Sucre), only the seat of government.
9 – Ecuador is one of three countries created in 1830 following the collapse of Gran Colombia. After the independence of the Spanish colony, the Viceroyalty of New Granada, the Republic of Gran Colombia (1819-1830) was created. It included the territories of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama as well as parts of northern Peru, Guyana and northwestern Brazil.
10 – The hat known worldwide as Panama actually originated in Ecuador. Better known as Montecristi, the straw hats woven along the Ecuadorian coast were sent to Panama initially to be sold to canal workers and, once the canal was open, for travelers crossing the Panama Canal.
11 – Ecuador is the world’s leading banana exporter, accounting for up to 29% of all bananas exported in 2011.
Source : Ecuador info – October 2015
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