Situated on the western coast of South America, the country of Ecuador is a place of vibrant culture and history, with natural beauty which will blow you away. It’s also one of the destinations you can explore on a tour with Aurora Expeditions.
Whether you’re trekking the Andes, enjoying a meal in Quito or cruising in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador has so much to offer the wide-eyed traveller. Here we’re laying out some of the things you might not have known about this incredible place.
1. It was named for the equator
Ecuador’s name comes from the Spanish word for the equator. The country, which straddles the equator, even has a monument built to celebrate its location in the middle of the world, found about 24 kilometres from the capital of Quito in San Antonio de Pichincha.
However, with modern GPS technology, it has been discovered that the Mitad del Mundo marker isn’t quite positioned on the equator – in fact, it’s around the corner at the Intiñan Solar Museum, around a 10 minute walk away.
2. It’s home to 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Ecuador boasts a raft of fascinating cultural and environmental sites, five of which have been officially recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, or UNESCO.
These include three cultural sites, the City of Quito, the Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca, Qhapaq Ñan and the Andean Road System. In addition, two of the country’s treasured natural sites have also been honoured by UNESCO, the Galapagos Islands and Sangay National Park.
3. Ecuador recognises nature’s rights
In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to officially recognise that nature has constitutional rights. This was included in the country’s constitution, under Article 71, where it states that nature has the right to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution”.
4. It is the country closest to outer space
At over 6,000 metres tall, Mount Chimborazo is one impressive inactive volcano. In addition, it’s also the highest point on Earth. Before you counteract with Mount Everest, the reason why Chimborazo tops out is due to a strange occurrence at the equator where the world bulges out in the middle, making it an imperfect sphere. This geographic oddity gives Ecuador’s volcano an extra boost, so that if you were to measure from the centre of the Earth, it would easily loom over all other mountains.
5. The Galapagos Islands were an inspiration for Charles Darwin
One of the greatest scientific minds of our time, Charles Darwin made some groundbreaking discoveries that changed the way we think about evolution. He visited the Galapagos Islands back in 1835, and made a number of observations, particularly concerning the variation of bird and giant tortoise species between the islands.
He published his revolutionary work, On the Origin of the Species 24 years later, and referenced observations made in the Galapagos in explaining natural selection.
6. Ecuador has four climates
…and no, that’s not a typo. On the mainland, Ecuador has three distinct regions with their own ‘microclimates’, the Costa, the Sierra and the Oriente. The Costa covers the coastal region from the ocean to the foot of the Andes, and is characterised by tropical humidity. The Sierra region across the Andean mountains sees cooler temperatures, while the Oriente consists of the Amazon Rainforest. The Galapagos Islands, 1,000 kilometres off-shore, also have their own climate, with pleasant weather year-round.
You can find out more about Ecuador’s intriguing climate here.
You can visit both mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos on Aurora Expeditions’ Amazonia, Cloud Forests & Galapagos voyage. To learn more about this exciting tour, you can check out our brochures online.