Ecuador has something for everyone. From historic districts to gleaming high rises, from mountains to beaches, and from inside the crater of a volcano to inside a coffee shop (can't miss the daily coffee routine, right?).
Here are 11 things you may not know about Ecuador:
1. It’s the most bio-diverse country in the world, meaning there are more varieties of plant and animal species per square kilometer than anywhere else on earth.
2. Ecuador is roughly the size of Nevada, about 280,000 square kilometers, or the size of the UK plus Belgium.
3. Voting is compulsory for literate citizens aged 18-65.
4. You can travel by bus for approximately $1 per person per hour. For example, a 4-hour bus ride to Baños would cost $4 (we’ll be taking a private van, though).
That would be the equivalent of me taking a bus from Madison to Nashville for about $12.
5. The average July high temperature in Quito, where we are staying, is 71° F (21° C). The average low is 49° (9° C).
As such, there’s no real summer or winter. It’s the “Land of Eternal Spring” (with a yearly rainfall of about 53 inches).
6. The Spanish first established the rough boundaries of what’s now Ecuador in 1563, and the country became an independent republic in 1830, when it was officially named for the equator.
7. Ecuador’s main exports are petroleum products, bananas, coffee, cacao, roses, and shrimp.
8. 3% of Ecuador’s 14 million people are black, 7% white, 25% indigenous people from more than a dozen native groups, and the rest are mestizos (mixed).
9. While North Americans typically associate Ecuador with the Galápagos archipelago, these islands are actually 600 miles off the coast, and most Ecuadorians have never been there.
10. Ecuador lies on the “Ring of Fire,” part of a highly-seismic zone that encircles the Pacific.
It’s one of the most volcanically active areas on the continent, which caused German explorer Alexander von Humboldt to name the central valley the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.”
11. Ecuador’s volcanoes include the furthest point from the center of the earth (Chimborazo), the highest point on the equator (Cayambe), and one of the highest active peaks in the world (Cotopaxi).
And one more thing. If you come here, you’ll never hear an Ecuadorian say “Hola!” They don’t use it. Instead, they use the shortened “buenas,” or buenos días, buenas tardes, or buenas noches.