At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks

GloboTreks is reader-supported through affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support! – Norbert

Are you looking for a unique travel experience? Or are you simply curious to expand your knowledge?

Ecuador might not be at the top of your travel bucket list, but there are so many reasons to love this country. Set right on the equator, Ecuador offers tropical weather, forests, beaches, and the unique Galapagos Islands.

Do you need any more convincing? Here are some fun facts about Ecuador that will make you want to book your flight to South America as soon as you finish reading!

Let’s dive straight into some Ecuador facts that will have you shaking your head in disbelief.

1. Nature Has Rights In Ecuador

Ecuador rewrote its constitution in 2008, and during this process, a group of environmental activists, led by Natalia Greene, applied pressure to ensure that nature received rights.

And so, Ecuador became the first country in the world to acknowledge that nature has a constitutional right to exist, persist, and be respected by all.

Norbert at the Equator Line

2. Ecuador Was Named After The Equator

This one is probably obvious, but the República del Ecuador was named thus because of its location right on the equator. (The Spanish word for “equator” being “ecuador”). It’s actually the only country in the whole world that is named specifically after a geographical feature.

They’re so proud of their position in the middle of the world, that they have a monument, called the Mitad del Mundo, to mark where the equator runs.

Although it turns out, this marker is off by a few yards, and the real “Middle of the World” is closer to the Intiñan Solar Museum.

Galapagos on a Budget - Bartolome Island
The “it” view of Galapagos as seen from the top of Bartolome Island.

3. Ecuador has multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites

This fact is less fun and more fascinating. Where most countries only have one World Heritage Site (if any), Ecuador has five.

Three are cultural sites:

  • The historic center of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca
  • The City of Quito
  •  Qhapaq Ñan, part of the Andean Road System

And two are natural sites:

4. There Is No Death Penalty

Although Venezuela was the first country in the world to ban the death penalty in 1863, Ecuador was not far behind. Capital punishment and any form of torture is illegal in Ecuador and has been since 1897.

Maya Chocolate Making Process in Belize

5. Ecuador Has Some Of The Best Chocolate In The World

Chocolate in Ecuador is a staple for most. With cacao being grown in South and Central America for years, the history is deep, including cacao being used for anti-inflammatory properties in the past.

For over 5000 years, chocolate has been consumed here. Ecuador might even be the originator of cacao.

6. Ecuador Has Been Independent Since 1822

The country has had its fair share of dictators and rulers. For 300 years, Ecuador was ruled by Peru. But, then the Spaniards arrived, bringing with them their religion, language, and architecture.

Ecuador remained under Spanish rule for almost 200 years, before becoming independent as part of Gran Colombia in 1822. Finally, Ecuador gained independence (completely) and became a sovereign state in 1830.

Galapagos Islands in Ecuador

7. There Are Four Distinct Regions

One of the more interesting facts about Ecuador is that there are four unique regions in the country and each has its own climate:

  • La Sierra – the mountainous highlands
  • La Costa – the coastal lowlands
  • La Región Insular – the Galapagos Islands
  • La Amazonia o El Oriente – the jungle lowlands in the east

8. Ecuador Is The Closest Country To Space

Mount Everest might be the tallest mountain in the world, but that doesn’t mean it is the highest mountain in terms of distance to space! Mount Chimborazo, located in the Andes, is actually the closest spot to the rest of the universe.

That is because the Earth is not a perfect sphere, it bulges out in the middle. This gives the Ecuadorian stratovolcano a little extra boost and measured from the center of the Earth, it is taller than other mountains.

9. Ecuador Is Biodiverse And Mega-Diverse

Ecuador is known worldwide for its incredible collection of indigenous fauna and flora. This country has the most biodiversity per square kilometer in the whole entire world. It is also one of 17 other countries that are mega-diverse.

Knowing that it’s really no surprise that Charles Darwin uncovered the secrets of evolution while studying the finches of the Galapagos Islands.

Elephant Island in Antarctica

10. Ecuador Is Part Of The Antarctic Treaty

Ecuador might be far removed from the southern continent, but this country in Latin America signed the treaty in 1958 with 11 other countries. Today, the treaty involves 54 countries, and Ecuador actually has a scientific research facility at the South Pole!

11. The Official Language Is Spanish

Considering the Spanish rule mentioned earlier, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that most people speak Spanish. This is the same as many other countries on the South American continent.

However, there are still some pre-colonial languages spoken by the population, including:

  • Achuar-Swiwiar
  • Awa-Cuaiquer
  • Cha’palaachi
  • Cofan
  • Colorado

12. The Official Currency Is The Dollar

Ecuador might be in South America, but the official currency is the US dollar, and has been since 2000. This is mostly good news for Americans who don’t have to worry about confusing exchange rates or swapping currency at dodgy market stalls.

13. “Cuy” Is A Delicacy

Don’t hate me for this, but “cuy” (pronounced “kwee”) is actually guinea pig meat. These little rodents are most often grilled and served with potatoes, rice, and a tangy sauce. If that doesn’t sound tasty, you can also have it roasted and stuffed.

14. The Panama Hat Is From Ecuador

This is one of the lesser-known interesting Ecuador facts. You’d think that the famous Panama hat to be from… well… Panama (or at the very least, somewhere near the Panama Canal)! But, instead, these chic woven hats, made from toquilla straw, are traditional Ecuadorian hats.

Town in Ecuador

15. Ecuador Is Home To Thousands Of Orchids

That’s right, this little country on the equator is considered the orchid capital of the world, with more than 4,000 species of this intricate flower.

Between these species, some bloom for half a year while others only bloom for a few hours. Some can live for 100 years while others only a short while. Found in Cuenca, these beautiful plants make for great home decor. 

16. Ecuador Forms Part Of The Inca Empire

When you think of the Incas, you most probably think of Machu Picchu in Peru. Not many people know that Ecuador was once part of the Inca Empire. The region was ruled by the Incas between 1450 and 1534 until the Spanish arrived.

Birds in Ecuador

17. Bird Watchers Love It Here

For those bird watchers out there, Ecuador is the ultimate destination. According to statistics, the country has more birds per square kilometer than any other country in the world.

This is the place to uncover new bird species, with 1659 confirmed species. Now that’s a bird watcher’s paradise!

18. Ecuador Had The First Female President (For A Short While)

They may have been ahead of their time, with the first female president in the world in 1997. But, Rosalie Arteaga only served a very short term – two days to be exact – before she was replaced. To be fair, she was only an acting president when Abdalá Bucaram left the presidency!

19. The World’s Biggest Tortoise Lives On The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise in the world. It weighs over 900 lbs, and can grow up to be 5 ft tall! They’re also ancient creatures, with some living up to 177 years old. That was before the American Civil War!

20. The National Tree Of Ecuador Is The Cinchona Tree

This “tree” is actually a flowering plant, that can come in more than 20 different varieties. The Cinchona tree can grow to a height of 50 ft. This tree is considered a healer, providing quinine, which is used to treat malaria (and is also found in the tonic you mix with your gin!).

Ecuadorians also believe that the Cinchona tree can treat stomach ailments and cramps.

Andean Condor Flying

21. The National Animal Of Ecuador Is The Andean Condor

This massive vulture has a wingspan exceeding 10 ft. This is probably the largest flying bird you’ll ever see, as it is only surpassed by the Wandering Albatross, which spends most of its time out at see.

You can see the Andean Condor gliding gracefully among the cliffs of the Andes.

Overview of Ecuador

22. Ecuador Has Two Seasons, Sort Of

Although most of Ecuador is located in the Southern Hemisphere, its location across the equator means it really only has summer and winter. Winter is from June to September, and summer stretches from October to May.

Usually, winters are mild and dry, with an average of 73 °F. Summers are not much hotter, with an average temperature of 79 °F, but the humidity can make it almost unbearable in the warmer months.

23. Those Of Voting Age Must Vote

Not sure who to vote for? Better make a plan! That’s because everyone aged 18 to 65 MUST vote in the national elections.

24. Water Boils A Little Bit Differently

Most of us are used to water boiling at 100 degrees, which just makes sense, right? Well, in Quito, in the northern part of the country, water boils at 90 degrees Celsius! It is because of the high altitude (9,350 ft above sea level) that water boils at a lower temperature.

Bananas in Ecuador

25. Ecuador Has Good Bananas

One of my favorite fun facts about Ecuador (keeping the best for last) is that it exports 25% of the world’s total banana exports, making it the largest banana exporter! Many other South American countries also export bananas, but none can get close to Ecuador’s quantities.

23 Fun Facts About Ecuador You Probably Didn't Know
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