Posted by: Jena Davison | December 30, 2009

Some Things You May Not Have Known About Ecuador Before Reading This Post:


1. The equator runs through Ecuador (hence its name,which means equator in Spanish), about 15 miles north of Quito. To locals and travelers alike, the equatorial line is known as Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). Due to this prime positioning, Quito has spring-like weather all year round and has only two seasons: the dry season (summer) and the rainy season (winter).

2. Ecuador has officially used the US dollar as its currency since September 2000. President Jamil Mahuad suggested this dollarization plan due to hyper-depreciation of the the sucre following extreme economic hardship from a declining oil market and the effects of El Niño. Mahuad’s idea was countered with organized protest that eventually led to his forced resignation, but his successor, former vice president Noboa, institutionalized the change nonetheless.

3. Quito is the second highest capital city in the world (elevation 2850m), second to fellow South American capital city La Paz, Bolivia. Visitors may experience altitude sickness  during the first few days there, resulting in possible fatigue, light-headedness, lack of appetite and shortness of breath. Another word for altitude sickness is “soroche,” which means ore in Spanish. This term refers to the old, faulty belief that the symptoms of altitude sickness was actually caused by toxic emanations from the ores of the Andes mountains. An indigenous, herbal remedy that is especially common in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia consists of chewing on or creating a tea from coca leaves.

4. Quito’s Old Town, or historial center, has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1978, making it (along with Krakow, Poland) the first city that was ever declared a cultural heritage site.  This means that an international committee preserves the wellbeing of the city due to its importance as a cultural fixture to all of mankind.

5. Ecuador also houses the highest active volcano in the world. Cotopaxi, hovering at 5897m (19,347 ft) above sea level, is located 50mi south of Quito. In fact, Quito is just north of what is known as the “Avenue of Volcanoes” and is surrounded by nine active volcanoes.

6. Perhaps one of Ecuador’s biggest draws, the Galapagos Islands are home to an impressive array of animal and plant species. In fact 27 species of reptiles, almost 300 species of fish, 16 species of whales, 19 species of birds, and  500 species of mosses, lichens and liverworts, have been noted to exist there.



  1. Hi Jena. I am Amanda’s father. I discovered your blog through Amanda’ blog, and I am enjoying your reporting and photos very much. I wish you continued good and safe travels.

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