If you are contemplating taking a trip to some of the less traveled and amazing tourist spots, Ecuador may come to you as a pleasant surprise.
This diminutive South American nation is an excellent choice to go off the beaten track into the unspoiled wilderness and seep in its beauty in a sublime, and natural environment. If you looking for more information about what is Ecuador famous for then here is the first-hand information that you will love!
What is Ecuador Famous For? Tucked away along the South American Eastern Coast, it falls along the equator. It is famous for the rich wildlife in its Amazonian rain forests and an extensive coastline full of many pristine beaches. It also shares a history with the ancient Inca civilization. Its Galapagos Islands are a well known UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ecuador may be lesser known than its other illustrious neighbors like Chile, Argentina, and Peru but is equally diverse with unmatched inherent beauty. It is also a perfect blend of a vibrant culture that has an equally chequered past.
There is no parallel to personally being there to get a feel of this amazing nation. Here is an updated list of 27 Travel Facts About Ecuador that will urge you to take a trip to this beautiful destination.
The Highest Point on the Planet
While Mount Everest is well known as the world’s highest peak, it is not entirely true. It is but when it comes to considering the Earth’s overall highest point, it is Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo which is the highest in purely relative terms.
When you measure from sea level, Mount Everest is the tallest point, however if you measure from the earth’s core, Mount Chimborazo is actually 6800 Feet(2.072) metres further from the core than the summit of Mount everest, thus making it the highest point on the planet when measured from the earth’s core.
Topography of Ecuador
If you observe the map closely, you will notice that Ecuador lies exactly on the equatorial latitude.
When you visit Ecuador, do not forget to look up this line, which they have marked to represent the equator. It is located in the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo park, in Quito.
An interesting fact about this marking is that although it has been there for a long time, but is only partially correct.
The use of the latest measuring technology indicates that this line is about 240 meters off!
REMEMBER: Don’t let that stop you from taking pictures here while standing near this marking and sending it to your friends.
The famous pyramids of Cochasqui, along with many other ruins dating back to ancient times, lie just 52 km from Quito.
These archaeological marvels are among the most visited places.
The modern Quichua still celebrate their important festivals here for events like the spring and fall equinoxes. The summer and winter solstices also draw huge crowds.
The Inca Connection
There are many stories regarding Ecuador’s connection to the Incas.
Early history chronicled by the Spanish concludes that the last Inca king Atahualpa, had an Ecuadorian lineage, having been born to Huayna Cápac, who lived in Quito and an Inca princess in Cuzco, Peru.
While the truth may not be the same, but the fact remains that the proximity to Peru, the home of the ancient Inca Empire, lends a lot of credibility to the lineage that indicates the Inca connection of the Ecuadorians.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites
It is a little known fact that the first two places designated in the first-ever UNESCO’s preservation list are in Ecuador.
These are the famous Galapagos Islands and Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Subsequently, 12 other sites formed a part of this list that includes Sangay and Cuenca National Parks.
Ecuador’s History of Dispute with Peru
Since the last few centuries, Ecuador has a past of regular border disputes with Peru, its immediate neighbor.
After the recent skirmishes, 1981 and 1995 a decisive division of the frontiers in 1999 by a group of mediating nations conclusively terminated the conflict to an acceptable end by both the nations.
INFO: The demarcation process of their disputed border territories began on May 13, 1999.
An Odd Lease of Land
Ecuador has a permanent lease of a small piece of land in Peruvian territory. It is used to place a military base and measures approximately just about one square kilometer.
Ecuador’s Tryst with Gran Colombia
Not many people know that after the Spanish domination ended, Ecuador entered Gran Colombia, along with Colombia and Venezuela. But the plan came apart in 1831 due to regional tensions.
There is no denying the fact this volcanic archipelago of 19 islands is Ecuador’s most well-known name to fame.
Located almost 563 miles away in the Pacific Ocean, The Islas Galapagos remained without any human interference until as late as the 1800s.
It held Charles Darwin’s fascination when he arrived here in 1835, and after seeing the pristine and unique life forms there, came out with his famous theory of the Origin of Species in his book published in 1859.
These Islands are Ecuador’s first national park and were subsequently, in 1978, were included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
NOTE: If you are passionate about nature and related adventure activity, then this is the place you simply cannot miss.
The Andean portion of Ecuador’s capital Quito is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. But that is not its only claim to fame.
At 2,850 Meters altitude, it is undoubtedly the World’s highest capital city!
Besides these facts, what the tourists find most interesting is its many picturesque churches and ancient buildings going.
It’s well maintained colonial past displaying the rich European structures with indigenous styles belonging to the 16th- and 17th-century are bound to take you down the memory lane.
These comprise the Plaza Grande Centre, the cathedral, and ‘Compañia de Jesús’ – an ornate historical Jesuit church.
The Pre-Incan Cultures
Ecuador has been home to Pre-Columbian cultures along its Pacific Coast.
These Pre-Incan tribes and cultures thrived right from 10,000 BC up to the advent of the Spanish settlers in 1530.
Museo de Los Amantes de Sumpa or the Sumpa Lovers Museum
This museum is your window into the life of the Las Vegas tribe that thrived along the coastal region near Santa Elena, sometimes in the period 10,000 to 4,000 BC.
The Museo de Los Amantes de Sumpa was made in 1997, amidst the ancient relics that exist along with the burial site of the Las Vegas culture.
Here you will find out more about the earliest civilizations in this region. There are many articles in this museum that contains an indication of numerous archaeological cultures.
This Spanish Baroque architecture style church dating back to 1765 is in Quito, Ecuador. ‘La Compañía’ refers to the ‘Society of Jesus’.
This vast Jesuit church is a must-visit place for believers and tourists alike.
It is famous for its large central nave, extensively finished with gold plating, ornate plasterwork, and authentic wood carvings.
Quite aptly, it is also referred to as A church dipped in gold and is placed among the UNESCO’s important World Heritage Sites.
If you think that the “Panama Hats” originated in Panama, then you are in for a cultural surprise! Contrary to the common knowledge, the Panama cap is an Ecuadorian item, and is a part of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list!
The confusion about the origin is partly because of their export route through Panama for further destinations in America, Europe, and Asia.
Also, during his visit to Panama, the then US President Roosevelt noticed the hats used by most workers at Panama canal’s construction site.
He referred to them as Panama hats, without knowing that these came from Ecuador.
Since they are made of natural fiber they are light in weight and very comfortable. Hence, they are much in demand everywhere.
Multitude of Orchids
Ecuador is famous for its orchids. There are more than 6000 varieties with more and more being routinely discovered.
Its proximity to the Amazonian rain forest and geographical layout provide the right environment for orchids to grow.
Wherever you go, these Orchids are omnipresent, be it the dry coastal woodlands or the slopes of Ecuadorian Andes.
Quito’s Botanical Garden
This Botanical Garden is a part of its Carolina Park. For small entry fees, you can view a vast selection of orchids from all over the countryside.
It has special greenhouses suitably modified to ensure the ideal temperature and humidity that are conducive to the growth of orchids and is a must-visit for any visitor to Ecuador.
Ecuador’s Many Hummingbirds
Ecuador is home to as many as 130 different varieties of Hummingbirds. They thrive in the many forests of Ecuador. While you can easily recognize many of them during your outings, some are difficult to spot. This is because they have very limited habitats.
As is evident, unless you are on a lookout for them, many species like the Chimborazo hummingbird generally remain elusive. However, you can’t miss them all if you are slightly observant.
Therefore, when you go trekking or in one of the national parks do look out for The Hermits, The Violetears, The Sunangels, The Thorntails, and The Sylphs.
The Spoken Languages in Ecuador
Almost 93% of Ecuador’s population speaks Spanish. The Ecuadorian Spanish has three regional variants: the Equatorial Coastal, Andean, and Amazonian.
The other few most regularly spoken languages are Shuar and Kichwa. The native Indian tribals also speak Quichua, an Inca language.
NOTE: Ecuadorian Spanish resembles the original Spanish almost exactly, with the least influence of the local dialect.
Ecuador’s Elusive Creatures: The Pinocchio Lizard
Among Ecuador countless species of wildlife, there are some that are very difficult to come across. It creates a feeling that they are extinct!
However, such is not the case. Different species, including those believed to have been extinct, get (re)discovered very often.
The Pinocchio lizard is one such example. Known for its noticeably long snout, it went undiscovered for almost 40 years!
Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest
Nine South American Nations are host to the mighty Amazonian Rain Forests. The part that lies in Ecuador has stable all-year-round weather and is very bio-diverse. Its Yasuni National Park covers a large area and is home to an abundance of wildlife.
There are more than 1400 diverse species of animals, which include- 200 mammals, 121 reptiles and almost 600 birds. Besides these, it has a mind-boggling 70,000 kinds of insects and 1,000 varieties of trees.
Traversing through such bio-diverse reserves in Ecuador will give you many insights, and offer you an amazing experience.
The Yasuni National Park is a sprawling zone in Ecuador’s Napo and Pastaza Regions. It lies amidst the Curaray and Napo Rivers and is the most biologically diverse area in the world.
Its location along with the geographical proximity of the equator cutting through the Andes and Amazon makes it an ideal host to unique biodiversity. It also contains the Waorani Ethnic Reserve, as well as the designated “Untouchable Zone,” which is meant to protect the indigenous tribes, as well as the wildlife.
This protection is also essential because Yasuni is sitting on an estimated one billion barrels of oil, which makes it an easy target for exploitation.
Given Ecuador’s small size, you would expect it to be uniform in its geographical attributes. However, surprisingly, Ecuador has 4 distinct geographical divisions.
These are in the form of four regions: The Andes Mountains lie in the center, flanked by Amazon jungle in the east and the coastal lowlands to its west; while the fourth region – the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands is off its Pacific coast, almost 530 km into the ocean.
The Iconic Cotopaxi Volcano
The Cotopaxi National Park, about 50 km from Quito, is home to the majestic 5,897 m tall Cotopaxi Volcano, which has the distinction of being Ecuador’s second-highest live volcano.
It has a perfectly conical shape, with a glacier-covered top, and is almost picture-perfect.
It attracts thousands of tourists and hiking enthusiasts every year.
Cotopaxi Volcano has a history of violent eruptions. One such eruption in 1877 melted its ice cap, and resultant mudflows destroyed the town of Latacunga completely.
NOTE: Its last volcanic activity occurred during August 2015, when it fired ash almost 12km high into the air, leading to a massive evacuation effort from its vicinity.
The “Devil’s Nose” Railway Trip
If you wish to experience one of the most remarkable train rides, then Ecuador’s Railways offers you a chance to travel in its Devil’s Nose Train which starts from Quito and goes up to Guayaquil.
It is also a symbol of the remarkable feat of engineering.
The track runs along roaring rivers, over the jagged ravines, through the forests, and across the mountains.
The name “Devil’s Nose” refers to a scary, hair-raising voyage, descending along the rocky hills of the mighty Andes.
The trip along the Devil’s Nose is sure to raise your adrenaline levels, as the train zigzags through some of the most breathtaking landscapes!
The Ingapirca Ruins
The site of Ingapirca is at a distance of 80 km from Cuenca. It is easily the best-preserved archaeological site in Ecuador.
When you reach this location, the first thing that will strike you is the spectacle of the magnificent Sun Temple.
It belongs to the period that was the zenith of the Inca Empire’s and is set amidst some amazing panoramic views of the surrounding hills.
There is also a small museum alongside showcasing various artifacts from the Inca period.
This is a trip down the history lane that you should miss. It takes merely an hour to reach by bus from the Terminal Terrestre at Cuenca.
Certain Lesser-known Details about Ecuador
This is a small town that offers many adventure activities like rafting, visit Devils Pylon, hot springs, hiking, bungee jumping, kayaking, etc.
Ecuador is amongst the world’s biggest exporters of bananas.
Ecuador is also known to produce world-class cocoa, coffee beans, and an excellent variety of dark chocolate in the world. It is an ideal destination for chocolate lovers.
Ecuador is fast becoming a preferred destination for North Americans who want to retire here because of the cost of living, climate as well as the quality of life.
Ecuador is among the largest producers of cut-flowers and is the third-largest exporter of flowers in the world. almost 400 varieties of flowers are grown in the highland areas.
El Cajas National Park
Placed in Southern Ecuador in the Andes., this park has a number of hiking trails that are sure to appeal your spirit of adventure. It will enable you to have a glimpse of the famous cloud forests and explore its flora and fauna.
This is the densely forested area of the Andes above the level of the clouds. It offers an excellent opportunity to study Ecuador’s abundant butterfly and birdlife.
The History Behind Its Name: Ecuador
Officially named the República del Ecuador, Ecuador gets this name because of its location on the equatorial latitude.
This makes Ecuador the sole nation to get a name related to any geographical feature.