1. Ecuador was the first country to recognise the rights of nature in its constitution

In 2008, Ecuador made history as the first nation to officially acknowledge the rights of the natural world. The country maintains that nature has a "right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles", instead of being considered as mere property.


A beautiful sunset in the Ecuadorian Amazon

2. Ecuador is the world's largest exporter of bananas!

In fact, the country supplies close to 30% of all bananas around the world. What's more, Ecuador is home to around 300 species of the fruit!


Bananas at an Ecuadorian market

3. Ecuador is both biodiverse and megadiverse


Just some of the many creatures inhabiting Ecuador's megadiverse habitats

The small South American country is renowned for an abundance of flora and fauna, and boasts the most biodiversity per square kilometre on Earth. Additionally, Ecuador is one of just 17 countries that is considered to be megadiverse as a result.

4. Ecuador is home to the first and second UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world


The Galapagos Islands, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world

Both the world-famous Galapagos Islands and Ecuador's capital Quito made the history books as the first and second picks, respectively, for UNESCO's World Heritage Site listing.

5. Ecuador has used the US dollar as its official currency since 2000


US dollars being exchanged in the street

Ecuador is one of a handful of nations around the world that has adopted the US dollar as its official currency, abandoning its former national currency – the sucre – in 2000, due to economic crisis and inflation.

6. The cinchona tree, adopted as one of Ecuador's national symbols, literally saves lives!


The cinchona tree

The cinchona tree is recognised as one of the main sources of quinine in the world, the first drug used to prevent and treat malaria.

7. Ecuador made headlines in 2012 by granting asylum to Julian Assange

2012 saw Ecuador grant political asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Wanted by the US government for his role in exposing US state secrets and the country's controversial actions around the world, Assange remained in the Ecuadorian embassy in London until 2019.

8. Ecuador contains the point on Earth closest to the sun!

Chimborazo's peak is an impressive 6,263m above sea-level. That's impressive enough on its own, but because it sits on the 'equatorial bulge', it is both the point on Earth closest to the sun, as well as the furthest from the Earth's centre.


Chimborazo

9. The well-known Panama Hat is actually of Ecuadorian origin!


Ecuadorian women making traditional Panama hats

Contrary to its name, the Panama Hat was actually invented in the Ecuadorian city of Cuenca, and is made by plaiting the leaves of the coastal toquilla palm. It earnt the name Panama Hat after US president Roosevelt wore one on his 1906 visit to the Panama canal.

10. The Quitu-Cara indigenous people were way ahead of European astronomers

Ecuador is literally named after the ecuador, or 'equator' that runs through its territory. There are monuments to this geographic feature, and the line is even marked along the ground in some parts of the country. The only problem? It's marked where the French Geodesic Mission of 1736 calculated it to be – about 240m south of where current GPS observations show that it is. Meanwhile, the indigenous Quitu-Cara people had already built an astronomical observatory on the exact line of the equator about a thousand years earlier, at Catequilla in around 800AD.


The Equator Line monument in Ecuador – about 240m south of the real equator, as the ancient Quitu-Cara people knew

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