Interested in learning a few fun facts about Ecuador?
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Ecuador facts:
1. Ecuador is one of the smaller countries (size-wise) located in the northern portion of South America. With a long shoreline on the Pacific Ocean to its west, Ecuador also borders Colombia and Peru. About 620 miles (1,000 km) off its coast are the Galápagos Islands, which is also part of Ecuador.
2. Ecuador sits right on the equator, which is where it gets its name. Ecuador simply means “equator” in Spanish. Its full name is the Republic of Ecuador (República del Ecuador). The Galápagos Islands also happens to straddle the equator, as well, but in both cases, for both the mainland and the Galápagos Islands, the majority of land is located just below the equator rather than above it.
3. Spanish is the official language of Ecuador, but many more are spoken. The Quechuan language Kichwa, the Shuar language, and some others are considered as recognized regional languages which are used officially for indigenous peoples. There are about a dozen native Ecuadorian languages spoken overall, with others being Cha’palaachi, A’ingae, Awapit, Tsa’fiki, Paicoca, and Wao Tededeo.
4. Quito is the capital and largest city of Ecuador. Quito happens to be the second-highest capital city in the world right after La Paz, Bolivia, located high up in the Andes Mountains at around 9,350 ft (2,850 m) above sea level. Quito’s historic center is the largest and least-altered one in the Western Hemisphere, and it was also the first site (tied with Kraków’s center) added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list back in 1978.
5. Speaking of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ecuador is home to five. Of these five sites, three are cultural and two are natural:
- City of Quito (cultural)
- Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca (cultural)
- Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System (cultural)
- Galápagos Islands (natural)
- Sangay National Park (natural)
6. Ecuador’s official currency is the US dollar. Until the year 2000, the sucre was the official Ecuadorian currency. However, after a tumultuous period in the 90s when its value plummeted, the president declared that USD would become Ecuador’s legal tender. To accompany USD banknotes, though, Ecuador issued its own centavo coins in 2000 in the standard coin denominations as in the US.
7. Ecuador’s population is just over 17 million inhabitants (2020 estimate). Most of the population, about 72%, are mestizos (mixed native and European ethnicity), along with over 7% each of the Montubio, Amerindian, and Black/Afro-Ecuadorian ethnic groups. The remaining population is made up of people of European descent (around 6%) and others.
8. The Galápagos Islands helped Darwin create his theory of evolution by natural selection. Charles Darwin, on the second trip of the HMS Beagle, studied the many endemic species of the Galápagos Islands and unearthing fossilized remains of extinct animals for over three years, and he took his findings back to England after, where he would hash out his theory.
9. Ecuador is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. A megadiverse country is one identified by Conservation International to hold a majority of the world’s plant and animal species. In fact, it has the more biodiversity per sq. km. than any other nation. It is home to about 15% of the entire world’s bird species (about 1,600), over 16,000 plant species, and 6,000 butterfly species, among many others.
10. Ecuador has the world’s first constitution to recognize the “rights of nature.” In its 2008 constitution (Title II, Chapter 7), Ecuador states that nature has the “right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes.” It also states that nature has the right to be restored and that the country “shall apply preventive and restrictive measures on activities that might lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of ecosystems and the permanent alteration of natural cycles.”
11. Chimborazo is an inactive stratovolcano that is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. Because there is an equatorial bulge around our planet’s waistline, Chimborazo’s peak is actually closer to space than even Mt. Everest!
Well, that’s all our Ecuador facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Ecuador we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!