What Are Some of the Most Interesting Facts About Ecuador?

Ecuador is a country with a lot of interesting facts. It's the smallest country in South America, but it's also one of the most biodiverse. And it has the highest percentage of people who are fluent in Spanish. The country is also home to the Galápagos Islands, which are considered one of the most important natural sites in the world. But what else do we know about Ecuador?

Here are some interesting facts about Ecuador:

1. It's One of the Most Biodiverse Countries in the World

Ecuador has more than 1,600 species of birds, more than 2,000 species of orchids and more than 1,400 species of trees. The country is also home to many endangered animals, including jaguars and giant otters.

2. Its Capital City Is Quito

Quito is located on a plateau at 9,350 feet (2,850 meters) above sea level [source: Ecuador]. It was founded in 1534 by Spanish colonists and is known as "The City of the Four Winds" because it has four different wind currents that blow through it.

3. It Has One of the Highest Percentage of People Who Are Fluent in Spanish

More than 90 percent of people living in Ecuador speak Spanish. This makes it one of only three countries where more than 90 percent of people speak Spanish (the other two are Argentina and Spain) [source: CIA World Factbook].

4. It Has One of the Highest Percentage Rates for Internet Usage

Ecuador has a high percentage rate for internet usage — about 80 percent — which makes it one of only three countries where more than 70 percent use the internet (the other two are Iceland and Malta) [source: CIA World Factbook].

5. It Has an Interesting Flag

The flag was adopted in 1860 and consists of three horizontal bands — yellow on top, blue in the middle and red on bottom — with an equilateral triangle that contains an image from a 17th-century battle scene that took place at Pichincha Volcano.

6. The Galápagos Islands Are Partly Under Ecuadorean Control

The Galápagos Islands are located off Ecuador's coast and consist mostly of volcanic islands that rise out from deep ocean waters. They're considered one of the most important natural sites in the world because they have unique animal life that can't be found anywhere else on Earth [source: Galapagos Conservation Trust Fund].

7. Its Capital City Is Home to Many Museums

Quito is home to several museums including Quito Art Museum (which houses paintings from artists such as Botero), Museum de la Ciudad (which displays artifacts from Quito's history) and Museo de la Ciudad y del Banco Central del Ecuador (which displays pre-Columbian artifacts) [sources: Quito Art Museum; Museum de la Ciudad; Museo de la Ciudad y del Banco Central del Ecuador].

8. Its Capital City Is Also Home to Many Parks

Quito has many parks including Parque La Carolina (a popular place for locals to relax), Parque La Alameda (which features a lake), Parque El Ejido (which is home to a zoo and botanical garden), Parque La Carolina (which is home to a lake), Parque Metropolitano (which features a lake) and Parque El Arbolito (which is home to a lake) [sources: Quito Tourism; Quito Tourism; Quito Tourism].

9. It Has Some Interesting Foods

Ecuadorian cuisine includes ceviche, which is made with raw fish that's marinated in lemon juice and spiced with chili peppers, as well as locro de papas, which is made with potatoes, cheese and corn.

10. It Has Some Interesting Festivals

Ecuador has several festivals that celebrate its culture. One of the most popular is the National Festival of the Marimba, which features music from Ecuador's indigenous groups.

11. Its Currency Is Called the Sucre

The name "sucre" comes from the Spanish word for silver. The currency was first introduced in 1884 and was replaced by the U.S. dollar in 2000 [source: CIA World Factbook].

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