Ecuador Fun Facts: 33 Neat Things Worth Knowing About
Ecuador Fun Facts are highly amusing snippets of information that come together like pieces of a mosaic and reveal a highly eclectic and beautiful portrait of this special country. Ecuador, a tiny country located along South America’s Pacific coast, is one of the world’s most bio-diverse places. The country’s geography and location on the globe have made it a haven for both flora and fauna that astound all those who that the opportunity to visit and admire it. The rich culture of Ecuadorians, with its idiosyncrasies and traditions, have also been shaped by the country’s geography and the history. This blend of terrestrial and cultural beauty have resulted in a population and land that is both fascinating and colorful! If Ecuador is on your bucket list (and if it isn’t, it should be), read on to learn some Ecuador fun facts that will make you want to hop on a plane and discover the country and its people for yourself!
Don’t let size fool you
This small country is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world. It has the highest level of biodiversity per square kilometer/mile of any nation. If you want to have ridiculously high chances of seeing life in all its splendor, then Ecuador is the place to go!
Some 8% of amphibian species, 5% of reptile species, 8% of mammals, and 16% of bird species are found right here in the small country of Ecuador, which makes up only 0.2% of the world’s land surface! It’s something you can experience in luxury and in the company of professional guides and world-class service at Mashpi Lodge.
From Sucre to Dollar
The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar. You’ll find that the dollar coin (Sacagawea) is widely used in Ecuador.
Ecuador’s population is a little over 16 million.
The origin of the name
The name Ecuador comes from the word equator, which itself runs through the country only a few kilometres away from the capital city of Quito. It is one of the only countries in the whole world that’s named after a geographical feature.
Speaking of which… it’s off by a few meters
The equator is situated 26 km (16 mi) north of the capital city of Quito. The site of the equator itself is a large tourist attraction called Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City) and hosts a giant statue that commemorates the discovery and delineation of the equator. However, modern measurements have confirmed that the equator’s exact location is roughly 240 meters (787 feet) north of this monument, which is now the site of a new museum (Intiñan).
But while you’re there…
You can place one foot in the southern hemisphere and one foot in the northern hemisphere!
Not the guinea pig!
Those adorable guinea pigs that are often kept as pets in other parts of the world are known as “cuy” in Ecuador. They are considered a local delicacy in many cities of the Ecuadorian highlands and you might find them be roasted over a spit and served to the masses!
Ecuador is home to the closest point on Earth to outer space
Mount Chimborazo has an elevation of 6,263 m (20,548 ft) and is Ecuador’s highest peak. It’s also the furthest point from the Earth’s centre due to the fact that the Earth bulges at the equator, making it the highest point on Earth and the closest point to outer space, the moon, the sun – you name it! Technically, it’s 1.5 miles / 2.4 kilometres higher than Mount Everest!
War of the… Whoopsies
In 1949, the famous War of the Worlds broadcast was recreated and performed in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. It caused such a panic that the army, police and fire brigades bolted out of the city to fight the purported alien invasion. Once everyone found out the whole thing was fake, they burnt down the radio station.
Mildly Interesting Ecuador Fun Fact: Gatorade in Ecuador comes in glass bottles!
Give thanks and praise to Mother Earth
In 2008, the constitution of Ecuador recognized nature as an entity with its own legally enforceable rights. It was the first country in the world to ever do such a thing, giving its surrounding natural territory the “right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.”
The Orchid Capital of the World
Ecuador has 4,250 species of orchid, from which 1,301 are endemic, making it the country with the most orchid species in the world!
In Ecuador, there’s a species of orchid that evolved to look like something that’s bizarrely similar to the face of a monkey. It grows up in the cloud forests of Ecuador, between 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,280 – 6,561 feet) above sea level. Many say it smells somewhat similar to a ripe orange when it’s in full bloom. The exact species of this orchid is Draculia simia, “dracula” refers to its fang-like parts that hang from its petals and “simia” to its monkey feature.
Speaking of Monkeys: Ecuador is all about bananas
That’s right, the country’s biggest export is the yellow fruit that everybody knows and loves. So big are its banana exports that Ecuador ranks as the top exporter of bananas in the whole wide world!
It is also a major exporter of oil, flowers, cocoa, bananas, shrimp, rice, cotton and coffee.
Quito City: “Touch the Sky” at one of the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
Quito – the capital city of Ecuador – is the world’s highest capital city, sitting at a comfortable 2,820 meters (9,252 feet) above sea level. Quito also happens to be one of the first designated World Cultural Heritage Sites as named by UNESCO in 1978. This title is tremendously evident in Quito’s Old Historic Centre, which is lined with polished cobblestone streets and beautiful 16th century houses, churches and much more. Do you know what else was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside Quito?
The Galapagos! The first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Oh yeah! Did we mention that the Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador?
This spectacular Andean nation is made even more spectacular by virtue of the fact that the Galapagos are a part of it! The Ecuadorian government designated nearly 98% of the islands as National Park back in 1959! The islands are located some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador.
The Panama Hat: Born in Ecuador
That’s right! The world-wide famous Panama hat actually comes from Ecuador, where it is handwoven by skillful artisans that reside in the cities of Cuenca and Montecristi. It was later shipped and sold to the Panama Canal workers, where it became famous and acquired its misleading name!
The chinchona, Ecuador’s national tree, is known for producing quinine – one of the first drugs to be used in the treatment of malaria!
Yellow, blue and red
Ecuador’s flag, which consists of three different-coloured horizontal stripes, is highly symbolic. The upper yellow stripe represents Ecuador’s fertile lands and bountiful crops. The middle blue stands for the country’s sky and ocean. Finally, the red at the bottom stands for the blood of all those who fought to secure its independence.
The bird sitting stop Ecuador’s shield is an Andean condor, an endangered species and Ecuador’s national animal. The Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world.
Our modern day theory of evolution was inspired by Galapagos. Well, Charles Darwin in Galapagos. The seed of said inspiration was planted inside the young biologist’s mind when he visited the enchanted isles back in 1835. Many of these theories are based on the discoveries he made during his visit, particularly with respect to Galapagos finches.
Ecuador is home to one of seven of the world’s megavolcanoes
That’s right, just like Yellowstone National Park, the Chalupas Volcano in Ecuador has a massive caldera that spans 16 km (10 mi) throughout the Cotopaxi National Park.
One language is not enough
13 indigenous languages exist alongside Ecuador’s main language, which is Spanish. Indigenous languages, the most important one being quichua (or kichwa), are spoken by more than 2 million people in the country.
4 Geographical Worlds Rolled into One
Ecuador is divided vertically into four, completely distinct regions. From east to west, these are: the Amazon Region, the Andean Region, the Coastal Region and the Galapagos Islands (Insular Region). Each one comprises a world unto itself. The Amazon for instance is a journey into the wild lungs of our planet, filled to the brim with fascinating plant and animal life alongside clusters of fascinating indigenous groups.
The Andes on the other hand offers sweeping landscapes, beautiful climates, and a colourful culture that will make you fall in love with the country. The coastal region is a beachcomber’s paradise, teeming with beautiful beaches and equally exquisite dishes that are absolutely worth spoiling your palate with. The majestic Galapagos, finally, allures travellers with its otherworldly landscapes and its fascinating and extraordinary species.
Home of the Ex-pats
Ecuador has continuously ranked as the place to live in for retired foreigners. With a highly comfortable quality of life, considerably low cost of living, and landscapes that look like something out of a Lord of the Rings movie, Ecuador is a fantastic place to settle down.
David & Goliath(s)
Of all the Andean States (Chile, Argentine, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia), Ecuador is the smallest one.
The Bird is the Word
There are 1,638 species of birds in Ecuador, which makes up a whopping 15% of known species worldwide. The country has one of the highest count of bird species per square meter/feet in the whole world.
Welcome to the family, fuzzy Olinguito!
One of the first carnivorous mammals to be discovered in the past 35 years (in the Western Hemisphere) resides in Ecuador! Its name is olinguito.
An Important Date
Ecuador’s Independence Day from the Kingdom of Spain is a holiday celebrated around the country on the 10th of August. The date is a name commonly used for plazas, streets and parks through major cities in the country.
Ecuador was once part of a country called Gran Colombia. What is that you ask? After the Viceroyalty of New Granada’s independence from Spain, the newly founded territories decided to unite and create a big, powerful country called Gran Colombia, comprised of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. Following Libertador Simon Bolivar’s dream, Gran Colombia was founded on 1819, but lasted only until 1830, when the union collapsed.
With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia.