Fun Facts about Ecuador

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!

History

  • 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).
Quito, Ecuador
Ecuador’s colonial heritage is especially evident in larger cities, like here in Qutio.

Geography

  • 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.
Mountains in Baños, Ecuador
Ecuador’s geographic diversity provides great opportunities for the outdoorsy crowd.

Culture

  • 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.
Oswaldo Guayasamín painting, Quito, Ecuador
This massive painting is from Oswaldo Guayasamín, one of Ecuador’s most famous artists.

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.

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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10 Comments on “Fun Facts about Ecuador”

    1. Fixed. There was some confusion over whether it was the day they first declared it, or the day they officially achieved it, but now it’s fixed.

      1. Ehhhm, no. They didn’t declared independence on the 10th of August of 1809. There was the first attempt for independence from Spain which momentarily succeeded, but at the end this independence movement was crushed by the Spanish authorities, but that date is still remembered every year (I say remembered because it is not a holiday, so it’s not a celebration) . On the 24th of May the final battle was held in the outskirts of Quito and ended up with the official resignation of the Spanish authorities from the control of the territory of what is now Ecuador.

          1. “It was there, on August 10, 1809 that the first call for independence from Spain was made in Latin America (“Luz de América”), under the leadership of the city’s criollos, including Carlos Montúfar, Eugenio Espejo and Bishop Cuero y Caicedo. Luz de America was the nickname given to Quito which saw the first revolt against Spanish occupation…”
            first call for independence, not the independence itself. Anyway I don’t want to criticize your post, because it’s really good.

          2. No, I definitely understand, and I appreciate the correction. I just kept reading August 10th over and over again, and I got it wrong the first time, but I wanted to include the mention of the first declaration, in addition to the official day when independence actually happened.

  1. Lovely information. I always love Latin American countries, especially Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. I know a little about Ecuador but your post incites certain curiosity. Hope so I can save enough money some day and visit those places.

  2. I really appreciate your time and dedication on making this post, for I had to find seventy-five facts on Ecuador. This really helped me get some of the facts I needed

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