Ecuador is a whole lot more than just the Galapagos Islands, with amazingly preserved Spanish architecture in its larger cities, and untouched jungle beyond its craggy mountains. Though famous for its equatorial laws-of-physics-defying stunts, it’s also home to some of the rarest wildlife in the world, and you can eat lunch for just a few dollars. So to get you excited about getting to know Ecuador better, or visiting some day, enjoy some interesting and fun facts about Ecuador. Enjoy!
- Ecuador was involved in the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running territorial dispute, in which it battled with Peru over control of its Amazon territories. The dispute lasted all the way through 1999, ending about 150 years of hostilities.
- Ecuador has had great periods of political instability; it has had 20 constitutions since achieving its independence from Spain, and had 48 presidents in its first 131 years of independence.
- Ecuador’s Independence Day is May 24th (though they first declared independence on August 10th, 1809, achieving independence from Spain on May 24th, 1822).
- Ecuador is one of only two South American countries (the other being Chile) that does not share a border with Brazil.
- Ecuador is considered one of only seventeen “megadiverse” countries, for its great biodiversity, which includes the utterly unique Galapagos Islands, and which means:
- Ecuador is the most biodiverse country in the world per square kilometer, and the 8th most biodiverse country overall.
- 1,600 different species of birds (15% of the world’s total) live in Ecuador, as well as 6,000 species of butterfly.
- This was the first country in the world to include recognition of the rights of nature as a part of its constitution.
- The country maintains a scientific research station in Antarctica, and is part of the Antarctica Treaty, which designates Antarctica as a continent for research, rather than ownership.
- Though it’s not the tallest mountain above sea level, the summit of the Ecuadorian volcano of Chimborazo is actually the furthest point from the center of the Earth, due to the earth’s slide bulge at the equator.
- Because of its location on the equator, Ecuador has very little variation between the length of days from summer to winter, with sunrise and sunset occurring each day around 6:00.
- Ecuador is slightly smaller than the state of Nevada.
- Ecuador is home to Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world.
- The biodiversity of the Galapagos served as the inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution.
- The country’s capital of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered the best-preserved historic town center in all of Latin America.
- Several inland Amazonian native tribes were able to avoid both Inca and Spanish conquest, thus preserving their cultural traditions independently of foreign rule.
- Voting is compulsory for all literate citizens aged 18-65, and optional for other citizens.
- Though Quito is the capital and has about 2.2 million inhabitants, Guayaquil is the biggest city, with about 2.3 million.
- Ecuador uses the American Dollar as its currency, and has done so since 2000, as the result of a banking crisis. However, as a result of the rarity of coins, Ecuador continues to issue its own coins, which are designed to resemble American coins to make transactions easier. Before the dollar, the currency was the sucre.
- 40% of the country’s exports are oil.
- Mestizos (an ethnic blend of Spaniards and native people) account for over 70% of the population, with the rest including significant populations of indigenous people, white, and black.
- Ecuador is a predominantly Christian country, with approximately 70% of the population identifying as Catholic, and 10% Protestant, though indigenous beliefs have remained strong and are often found to be practiced alongside Christian traditions, often blended together.
- The national music is known as Pasillo.
- Ecuador has won two Olympic medals, both by racewalker Jefferson Pérez, who won gold in 1996 and silver in 2008.
- Ecuador’s health care system is ranked 20th worldwide.
- Regional divisions, partly due to the country’s geography, have led to rivalries between regions, especially between the residents of Quito and Guayaquil.
- Lunch is the largest meal of the day.
- The world-famous Panama hat is actually of Ecuadorian origin.
- Although Spanish is the first language of 90% of the country, Quechua survives among some of the indigenous populations.
- Due to economic difficulties in their home country, an estimated 2 to 3 million Ecuadorians live abroad, including many in Spain.
Hope you had fun. Ecuador is a fun place to visit, and feels a lot more modern than many other South American countries, sometimes feeling downright European, but a lot more affordable. If you get the chance to go, you’ll have a good time.