Ecuador is one of the latest travel destinations to be offered to Australians, as part of a campaign to turn the equator-straddling country into a mainstream destination. While best known for the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is a country of contrasts, with everything from Amazon jungle to snow-capped Andean peaks.
Here are 15 facts you probably didn’t know about Ecuador:
- Ecuador is named after the equator, which runs through the country, making it the only country in the world to be named after a geographical feature. A popular tourist attraction is Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) near Quito, where visitors can put one leg over the equator in each hemisphere.
- Quito, Ecuador’s capital city is 2850m above sea level, making it the second-highest capital city in the world.
- Quito’s World-Heritage-listed old town is recognised as the best-preserved historic centre in Latin America.
- The 6268m-tall Mt Chimborazo is the closest point on Earth to the sun due to the planet’s equatorial bulge.
- Ecuador’s Galapagos Island airport is the only airport in the world working exclusively on wind and solar energy, thanks to a $40 million engineering feat which also saw it win a major US award for environment-friendly design.
- The world’s highest active volcano is found in Ecuador – Mt Cotopaxi, which is 5987m above sea level.
- Ecuador grows and makes 70% of the world’s fine cocoa, Arriba, which is used in chocolate products worldwide.
- Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas and the total value of Ecuador’s banana exports exceeds $2 trillion each year.
- While it is one of the smallest countries in South America – just 8% bigger than Victoria – Ecuador is the most biodiverse country in the world per square kilometer, with the distinct Amazon, Andes, Coastal and Galapagos regions.
- Ecuador is home to more than 1600 species of birds, which is more than double the number found on the continents of North America, Europe or Australia.
- In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to include recognition of the rights of nature in its constitution.
- The Ecuador Ministry of Tourism secured the rights to the Beatles hit song ‘All You Need is Love’ to use as part of their ‘All You Need is Ecuador’ campaign to show how Ecuador can help people emotionally connect with culture and nature.
- The Galapagos Islands served as Charles Darwin’s inspiration for his Theory of Natural Selection. There he observed the way the unique creatures were similar from island to island, but had perfectly adapted to their habitats.
- The Galapagos Islands are home to a number of endemic species, making Ecuador the only place where the Waved Albatross, the Galapagos Sea Lions and the Giant Galapagos Tortoises can be seen in the wild.
- Despite their name, Panama Hats were invented in Ecuador, and are still worn by proud locals today.
For information on Ecuador visit the consumer site – www.ecuador.travel