Ecuador is a relatively small country located in north-western South America, yet it is fascinating in so many ways. Rich wildlife, dramatically diverse landscapes and many other factors attract crowds of adventurous foreigners to live and travel in this country, yet so many people have little knowledge about it.
Here are 15 of the most astonishing, interesting and maybe even slightly disturbing facts about the Republic of Ecuador, followed a section on related articles, its mountains and suggested adventures in Ecuador's pristine wilderness areas.
1. Ecuador is one of 13 countries that are located on the line of equator and what is even more fascinating is that the name of the country “The Republic of Ecuador”, actually, translates to “The Republic of Equator”!
2. Ecuador is in fact the ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD that is named after a geographical feature... that is unless you can think of another. If so, please let me know!
3. Talking of other countries... Panama is not where Panama hats originate from. Can you guess where? Thats right, its Ecuador. From the Quechua stalls of Otavalo to the pricier boutiques in Quito, the original panama hat is to be found in Ecuador.
4. Speaking of the equator, it has to be noted that there is a general misunderstanding on where that invisible line specifically runs through. Thousands of tourists go to Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City) to stand in two Earth’s hemispheres at the same time while placing their feet on opposite sides of yellow paint line that allegedly marks the equator. Well, we hate to break it to them, but, in truth, the equator lies 240 meters north of the marked line.
5. Ecuador has dramatically diverse geographical features as it is covered in jungle, in the east (La Amazonia region), has flatlands and beaches in the west coast (La Costa region), mountains and volcanoes in the Andes (La Sierra region) and, all the above mentioned features lying in the Galapagos Islands (La Region Insular).
6. Chocoan Lowlands and Tropical Andes are two of the most biologically diverse ecoregions on the planet and as they collide it creates a home for thousands of species. As the result, Ecuador is considered to be one of 17 megadiverse countries, which means that it holds the majority of Earth’s species. Also, it is worth mentioning that Ecuador is the densest mega-diverse country in the planet as it has the most biodiversity per square kilometre.
7. As Ecuador has such an outstanding nature and wildlife it is heart warming to know that the country is also the first in a world to acknowledge the rights of nature, with the provision in its constitution stating that nature owns the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. This kind of approach is both highly unusual and revolutionary as the majority of countries perceive nature as property while Ecuador’s constitution gives basis for the environment to be named as an actual party or defendant in legal proceedings.
8. The giant Andean Condor - the biggest flying bird to be found anywhere in the world - is native to Ecuador and is the national symbol, seen on the nation's flag.
9. There are many reasons why Mount Chimborazo should appear on this list. It is the highest mountain in the country (6,263.47 m/20,549.4 ft from the sea level). It is also a volcano that has not erupted since 550 C.E. However, the main reason, why it is considered to be so unique is that its peak is the highest point in our planet when measuring from the centre of the earth (6,384.4 km / 3,967.1 mi), outrunning Mount Everest by 2,163 m (7,096 ft). Therefore, it means, that it is the closest point to space!
10. This is a more commonly known fact, but still, it is something to be proud about for Ecuadorian people. The Galapagos Islands are not only an attractive destination for vacation, it is also a place where Charles Darwin found the validation to his theory of natural selection and evolution.
11. Did you know that Ecuador has the largest number of crater lakes in South America? Taking into the account both the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador, there are totally 11 lakes formed in the craters of volcanoes. Lakes Cuicocha and Quilotoa are the most famous crater lakes in the country as their beauty is acknowledged not only nationally, but also worldwide.
12. Ecuador is the country where you can find two first Unesco Heritage sites. To this date, the World Heritage List has hundreds of sites on it, but at the very beginning, when it was first established in 1978, there were only 12 and two of them belonged to Ecuador. First, it was the Galapagos Islands and, second, the city of Quito.
13. Ecuador’s second highest peak Mount Cotopaxi (5,897 m / 19,347 ft) is special not only due to its lonesome yet grandiose look. It takes an honourable 7th place among the highest volcanoes on the planet and the 3rd among the active ones. In fact, the last eruption occurred not so long ago, in August 2015.
14. Edward Whymper, the first man to climb the Matterhorn also made a number of first ascents in Ecuador, although his expedition the "The Great Andes of the Equator" was primarily to study the effects of altitude eon the human body, for which he was awarded the Patron's Medal by the Royal Geographical Society.
15. If you have ever owned a guinea pig you know how adorable they are. To their disadvantage, people in Ecuador, rather than just giving these furry animals their love and care, enjoy it as a delicacy. Therefore, do not be surprised to see a grilled guinea pig on a stick (or so-called “Cuy”) while walking the markets of Ecuador.
16. If you believe in conspiracy theories stating that there are shape shifters living amongst us, well... you are quite right! A frog with an ability to change the texture of its skin from smooth and soft to rough and spiky has been discovered in the rainforest of Ecuador at the beginning of 2016. It is the first creature known to society that has this type of ability. No wonder it has such a cool name – the Punk Rocker!
17. Ecuador’s national tree the Cinchona is actually a source for anti-malaria pills. Well, of course these pills do not grow on the trees, but Cinchona produces Quinine, which is an essential component of drugs that treat and prevent malaria.
18. The city of Quito is located 2,850 m above sea level and is the highest "constitutional" capital in the world although it is second behind La Paz as a capital city.
19. Finally, in recent years, Ecuador has been considered to be the one of the best if not the best country to live in according to expats. Despite the fact that Ecuador does not shine in job security and high wages, expats living in the country find that it is easier to find friendship, sense of community and love here. I guess, it is all in priorities!