Ecuador has an incredible amount of resources, both economic and environmental. Ecuador has struggled throughout history – first for independence from Spain, then to claim its own lands from its neighbors, including Colombia, Brazil and, most notably, Peru.
Despite losing a good deal of land in the process, Ecuador remains a strong economic powerhouse in South America.
35 Ecuador Facts
Ecuador’s $170 billion economy is based on exports, and Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas in the world, with exports totaling $2 trillion by most recent counts. A long-standing trading partner with the United States, Ecuador’s official currency is actually the US dollar!
1. Darwin’s Breakthrough Happened in Ecuador – At the Galapagos Islands
Located in South America, the official name of Ecuador is the Republic of Ecuador. The country is located on the northern part of the west coast of South America and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Colombia, and Peru.
The Galapagos Islands may well be the most famous part of Ecuador. They are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, off the western coast of Ecuador.
The Galapagos Islands are 886 miles, or 1,426 kilometers, west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Since the time of their accidental discovery by Westerners in 1535, the spectacular natural beauty of the Galapagos Islands has made them world-famous.
Taking keen observations of the plants and animals on the Galapagos Islands led Charles Darwin to develop his theory of Evolution. From 1831-1836 Darwin sailed aboard the HMS Beagle with Captain Robert Fitzroy.
He took extensive notes on the plants and animals he found in Ecuador, on the South American continent, and on the Galapagos Islands.
When Darwin compared the plants and animals on the islands with the plants and animals on the continent, he began to see a pattern. After reviewing his notes and examining additional specimens, Darwin arrived at his theory of Evolution.
The plants and animals on the islands were clearly related to the plants and animals on the continent, but were different; they had changed.
The plants and animals had adapted, or evolved, to meet the needs of the environment on the Galapagos Islands. Despite similarities between the two, the island environment is different from that of the continent.
2. 6% of People in Ecuador Speak 1 of 13 Native Dialects
94% of the people in Ecuador, known as Ecuadorians, speak Spanish. Ecuador was once a colony of the Spanish Empire and from 1563, the main city in Ecuador, Quito, was the seat of power for the Spanish administrative district in the area.
The land of Ecuador was once part of the Spanish colony the Viceroyalty of Peru, and later the Viceroyalty of New Granada. As early as 1809, people in Quito declared independence from Spain. By 1832, the country had established itself as a democratic republic.
However, the legacy of Spanish rule remains, and 94% of the population today speaks Spanish. There were many native tribes when Spanish conquistadors arrived.
Some of these native tribes survived in greater or lesser numbers, and to this day, there are 13 native dialects recognized. These 13 native dialects make up the language of the remaining 6% of people who live in Ecuador.
The confusion over Ecuador’s place in the Spanish Empire and on the continent of South America would continue as the country gained independence and battled with Peru over the rights to its land.
3. Ecuador Was at War with Peru for over 100 Years until 1998
Ecuador and Peru were engaged in a long-running fight over the border the two countries share. This dispute was so long that it spanned generations!
Advocates for Peru cite treaties that date back to the 1802 Real Cedula. They claim this proclamation shows the King of Spain transferred lands from one colony, the Viceroyalty of New Granada, to another colony, the Viceroyalty of Peru.
Matters became more complicated as the 1800s progressed. Peru signed a secret peace treaty with Brazil in 1851 and began occupying disputed territories in the Amazon Basin. Peru even went so far as to name the region and set up a capital of government for overseeing the territory.
This continued throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s, with Ecuador signing a treaty with Colombia to end the dispute in 1916. This was short-lived, as Colombia signed a secret agreement with Peru in 1922 that gave land to Peru which Ecuador had given to Colombia in 1916.
Peru and Ecuador were in negotiation from 1924 to 1941, at which point troops were mobilized and the war started to heat up between the two South American countries. World War 2 was raging at the time, and international pressure brought Ecuador and Peru to an agreement for a short while.
It was more important for South America to be united against Germany, Italy, and Japan than to be engaged in internal wars.
When Ecuador began exporting oil in the 1970s, tensions escalated again over a small river that was not clearly defined in the last agreement. Finally, in 1998, a peace agreement was signed that has been held until today.
The last set of international troops, placed in Ecuador and Peru to ease tensions, left in 1999.
4. Ecuador Exports $2 Trillion Worth of Bananas Every Year
The economy of Ecuador depends on exports. Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas. Looking at recent Ecuador facts relating to the exports of bananas, over 280 million boxes of bananas are exported each year.
The total value of Ecuador’s banana exports exceeds $2 trillion each year.
5. Oil Accounts for 33% of Revenue and 40% of Exports in Ecuador
The economy in Ecuador continues to rely on the vast resources of the land which drew Spanish conquistadors to the area more than 400 years ago.
The vast resources in the relatively small area of land that is Ecuador also explain why Ecuador’s larger neighbors Peru and Brazil took land from Ecuador by force and through treaties.
Oil, bananas, shrimps, gold and agricultural products form the main basis of the export economy of Ecuador. In more recent years, exports of other goods, such as flowers, have grown to $291 million, and exports of canned fish have reached $333 million.
The economy also receives a big boost from Ecuadorians living abroad. Nearly 1 million Ecuadorians live abroad and send money back home.
6. The Official Currency of The $170 Billion Ecuador Economy is the US Dollar
The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar! So many of Ecuador’s exports go to the United States that they thought it was best to stabilize their economy based on the United States and the dollar instead of relying on other economies in South America.
The country made the transition to the US Dollar in 2001, and it seems it was the right decision. Ecuador insulated itself from the economic heatwave which scorched the economies of other South American countries.
Ecuador has the world’s 63rd largest Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, which is estimated to total $170 Billion in 2014.
7. One of the Best Comedy Directors and Voice Actors Ever is From Ecuador
One of the funniest cartoon creators, comedy directors, and voice actors is from Ecuador. Mike Judge is the creative genius behind Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill, Office Space and other television series and films.
Whether or not you appreciate Judge’s particular style of humor, there’s no disputing the fact that his work has had an impact on comedy and our culture. On a list of the 65 best comedy directors in history, Judge was listed as number 18.
This Ecuadorian not only directed and produced many of his own works, but he also acted in them as a voice actor. In a list of the 38 best voice actors of all time, Mike Judge was chosen as number 19.
8. There Are More Mobile Phones Than People in Ecuador
Ecuador tied its economy to the US dollar to stabilize the economy. This helps insulate Ecuador’s economy from inflation but also prevents the government of Ecuador from printing money, other than issuing coins that are backed by actual dollar bills.
In Ecuador, 40% of adults don’t have access to a bank account, yet there are more mobile phones than people in the country! The government sees this as an opportunity to test digital currency.
Although Ecuador cannot print money, a law was recently passed which allows the government to issue digital currency. The first test case is planned for the snack carts at Ecuador’s Central Bank, or BCE.
Despite this modest test case, there are already concerns that the government will issue more digital currency than it is able to back in real dollar bills.
Bank employees swiping their phones for Snickers may be the humble heralds of a new digital economy in Ecuador.
9. There Are 317 Mammal Species in Ecuador
The mainland of Ecuador, like the Galapagos Islands, is incredibly bio-diverse. There are 317 documented mammal species living in Ecuador.
One of the most remarkable mammals is the Amazonian Manatee. There are four species, and they are all endangered.
Like the Amazonian River Dolphins we learned about in our dolphin facts post, Amazonian Manatees transitioned to life in the rivers and estuaries of Ecuador from life in the ocean.
Another spectacular animal in Ecuador is the Nine-banded Armadillo. This is one of the most amazing animals in the world. This armor-plated animal can also be found in the southern and southwest United States.
The two-toed sloth, one of the slowest moving mammals in the world, also lives in Ecuador. These three incredibly different animals give you a small picture of the amazing bio-diversity that Ecuador has!
10. American Crocodiles in Ecuador Can Be Over 19ft. Long
There are 350 species of reptiles in Ecuador. Of the 20 species of turtle that live in Ecuador, some species are amongst the oldest living lineages of turtles, with ancestors dating back over 200 million years!
The near-mythical American Crocodile is apparently located on the Pacific Coast. This crocodile can grow to be over 19 feet, or over 6 meters, long! The species is rare but still exists in Ecuador today.
Not to be outdone by its distant reptile cousin, there is also the Anaconda, a 19-plus foot snake that can be found in Ecuador! The Anaconda is one of the amazing 210 species of snakes in Ecuador.
11. Ecuador is home to UNESCO’s 1st World Cultural Heritage City
The historic centre of the beautiful city of Quito was the first World Cultural Heritage City to be named by UNESCO.
12. Ecuador has an active volcano
Just 6kms south of Quito, Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in Ecuador. It is located in Cotopaxi National Park and spans three provinces.
13. Quito is the highest constitutional capital in the world.
Ecuador’s capital sits at 2,850 metres. Some visitors experience altitude sickness due to the city’s height.
14. Ecuador has the largest market in South America
Otavalo market takes over a whole city block and is the biggest market in South America.
15. Ecuador has 12 hours of sunlight all year long.
Due to its location close to the equator, most of the country has 12 hours of sunlight all year round. Generally, the sun rises around 6-6:30am and drops between 6 and 6:30pm.
16. Ecuador has only two seasons
The two seasons in Ecuador are wet and dry. The wet season is from October to May and the dry season is June to September.
17. Ecuador is named after its location
Ecuador’s full name is the Republic of the Equator. The Equator runs through the country. There is a monument marking the line of the equator about 40 minutes by bus from Quito. However, the line is actually incorrect.
18. Ecuador is a popular expat location
Ecuador has low living costs, low unemployment, good healthcare, and decent salaries. Plus that 12 hours of sunlight a day all year round. This has made it a popular place for expats.
19. The Panama Hat is actually from Ecuador
Panama hats were popularized during the building of the Panama Canal. However, these hats were and are actually made in Ecuador from the toquilla palm plant.
20. Ecuador doesn’t have a border with Brazil.
Chile and Ecuador are the only two South American countries that don’t share a border with Brazil.
21. Ecuador is said to have the best chocolate in the world.
Only 5% of the cacao in the world is “Fine Aroma” and Ecuador produces nearly 2/3 of it. The company Pacari is one of the finest producers of chocolate in Ecuador and has won many chocolate competitions around the world.
22. Ecuador has the closest point to outer space in the world.
Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo is the furthest point from the Earth’s centre. This is because the Earth bulges at the equator. This means that Mount Chimborazo is 2.4 kilometres higher than Mount Everest when measured in this way.
23. It is the Orchid Capital of the World
Ecuador has 4,250 species of orchids which is more than any other country in the world.
24. The Galapagos Islands were the First UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Galapagos Islands are located nearly 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador. The government in Ecuador named nearly 98% of the islands as National Park in 1959 – very forward-thinking!
25. Ecuador’s National Animal is a bird.
The Andean Condor is an endangered species and the national animal of Ecuador. It is also the largest flying bird in the world and it sits atop Ecuador’s shield.
26. Ecuador has four very different regions
Ecuador can be divided vertically into four very different regions. In the East is the Amazon region, then the Andean Region, followed by the Coastal Region and then of course the Galapagos Islands.
27. Ecuador has one of the highest counts of bird species per square metre in the world.
There are 1,638 species of bird in Ecuador. 15% of the known species of bird in the world can be found in Ecuador.
28. August 10 is Independence Day in Ecuador
This date celebrates Ecuador’s independence from Spain. It is a public holiday that is celebrated throughout the country. Many streets, squares etc throughout the country are named after this date.
29. Guinea Pig is a delicacy in Ecuador
The Guinea Pig is roasted whole and is seen as a traditional food in Ecuador.
30. 70% of Ecuador’s Population is Mestizos.
Mestizos is an ethnic blend of Spanish and native peoples. The balance of the country’s population is mostly indigenous people.
31. Voting is compulsory in Ecuador
All citizens between 18 and 65 years of age must vote in elections in Ecuador.
32. There are two ways to get married in Ecuador.
The first is civil marriage or legally binding service which we all know. The second is what is called a Free Union. In this situation, the couple decides to form a family without an official service. Both types of marriages carry the same rights and duties.
33. Ecuador’s flag is made up of three colours
The yellow represents the country’s diversity, the blue its sea and sky and the red is the blood of those who fought for the country’s independence.
34. Ecuador was the first nation to give Nature Constitutional Rights.
In 2008, Ecuador recognized that nature had the right to exist and therefore it was given constitutional rights. This means it should not be treated as property.
35. Ecuador was the first country in the world to eliminate the death penalty.
The death penalty was eliminated in 1906.