Ecuador: Rivers, nature, and bananas!

Named after its proximity to the equator, the Republic of Ecuador is home to more than 2,000 rivers, making it the country with the highest concentration of rivers per square kilometer in the world. Ecuador also boasts the world’s first two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At the first UNESCO World Heritage conference in 1978, 32 sites were in the inaugural list. Each World Heritage Site is assigned a number and site #1 is the Galapagos Islands, while site #2 is the City of Quito for its history and architecture. The Galapagos Islands are where Charles Darwin noticed the diversity of species and began to study evolution.

Ecuador’s closeness to the equator contributes to its rich biodiversity. It is a popular choice for ecotourism and observing nature in its most unspoiled state. The vast range of geography includes volcanoes, rain forests, and beautiful beaches. Ecuador has the world’s highest diversity of hummingbird’s species (131). Mount Chimborazo is an inactive volcano that also is the highest point in Ecuador, at 20,565 feet. Due to its position near the equator, it is known as the closest point on Earth to the sun. Humpback whales migrate from the South Pole to tropical waters off the coast of Ecuador to mate and give birth.

Ecuador has a strong export economy, ranking among the world’s top five producers of bananas. The country exports more than four million metric tons of bananas annually ($2 trillion worth of bananas every year). The crop is mostly grown on private plantations under the control of national and international companies such as Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole, and Noboa. The majority of the balsa wood in the world also comes from Ecuador.

Did you know…? One of the funniest cartoon creators, comedy directors, and voice actors is from Ecuador. Mike Judge is the creative genius behind King of the Hill, Office Space, and other films and TV series. Because the equator is closer to space and farther from the center of the Earth than anywhere else, it creates a bulge. The bulge is big enough that Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is actually 1.5 miles “higher” than Mount Everest. Because mountain peaks are measured from sea level, Mount Everest is considered higher because the bulge in the Earth at the equator also means that the seas are higher, too.

This is the eleventh in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.