Interesting Facts in Ecuador

The national tree of Ecuador is the cinchona tree which produces Quinine, the first drug used to prevent and treat malaria.

Ecuador is one of only two countries in South America that does not share a border with Brazil.

In 2008, Ecuador was the first country to officially recognise the rights of nature. Rather than treating nature as property, Ecuador recognises that nature has constitutional rights and has the “right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.”

Ecuador has granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Under investigation by the US government and facing extradition to Sweden, Assange sought refuge at the Embassy of Ecuador in London. He has been there since June 2012.

The summit of Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain, is the point on Earth closest to the sun. Due to the mountain’s location along the equatorial bulge, its summit is the farthest point from the Earth’s core. This also means that Ecuador is the closest country to space.

Ecuador is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world and has the most biodiversity per square kilometre of any nation.

It is well known that Ecuador is named after the equator which runs through the country. It is in fact the only country in the world officially named after a geographical feature. The official name, República del Ecuador, translates as “The Republic of the Equator”.

The equator is widely promoted at the tourist attraction Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City) 26km north of the capital, Quito. This is supposed to be where one can stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern. Unfortunately, thanks to modern re-measurements the exact equator is said to lie 240 meters north of the marked line and monument. Doh!

Ecuador has the world’s first and second UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At the inaugural UNESCO World Heritage conference in 1978, 32 sites were initially designated. Every World Heritage Site has a number – site #1 is the Galápagos Islands and #2 is the city of Quito.

Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, is 2,850m above sea level, making it the highest official capital city in the world. La Paz in Bolivia is higher but it cheats a little as it is not the constitutional capital (that’s Sucre), only the seat of government. Nothing’s ever simple in Bolivia!