Most know it as the South American country that’s situated over the equator, and as next-door neighbor to the famous Galapagos Islands. Still, there are lots of facts about Ecuador not so well known, and there is an array of things to see and do there. It’s possible to spend months here and still find cultural adventures around every corner.
With loads of nature-based and historical attractions, some crazy economic conditions, and an equally crazy capital city, Ecuador is a plethora of little-known facts. As with most depictions of a place in the media, the most interesting aspects about Ecuador are usually never heard of in the news.
Here’s a few facts about Ecuador to get you started on location-specific enlightenment:
FACT #1: ECUADOR USES THE U.S. DOLLAR
Not too long ago, there had been a total collapse of the Ecuadorian sucre to a disastrous level. At this time, the sucre to USD ratio was around 25,000 to 1! Many Ecuadorian people were investing their holdings into the stronger USD, thus making it a sort of unofficial currency. In the year 2000, Ecuador made the USD their official currency, allowing citizens to exchange sucres for up to one year before the full switch.
Especially if you’re from the states, you may remember those Sacagawea dollars that suddenly seemed to disappear out of circulation. They’re very much alive and have all seemed to make their way to Ecuador. These coins are very much in use here and so much so that they’re one of the most common denominations being passed around. Alongside the Ecuadorian centavo coins that are being used, these things are everywhere!
FACT #2: THE CENTER OF THE WORLD IS ACTUALLY A GIANT TECH FAIL
Probably one of the most overlooked facts about Ecuador is that what is known as the center of the world isn’t actually the center of the world. When the center of the equator was marked outside Quito back in the 18th century, the entire country was named after the discovery. The downside is, what was state of the art technology back then is far from it today.
Through the late 1930s, and again in the late 1970s and early 80s, monuments were being built here at the center of the world commemorating latitude 0*, 0’, 0”. Painted lines mark its intersection with longitude, and there are thousands of visitors to the site every year.
New advancements in GPS technology though, have proved that the actual center of the earth lies about 800 feet from this spot. The crowds of tourists don’t seem to mind much – still posing for countless selfies at the old marked site. We wonder, do they even know?
FACT #3: THE CAPITAL OF QUITO BREAKS RECORDS
The capital city of Quito is a place full of historical beauty but at enormous heights. In fact, Quito is one of the highest capital cities in the world at over 9300ft above sea level (2850 metres). This sprawling city seems to pass over the horizon as far as the eye can see, and has a population nearing 3 million people.
Quito is also known to house one of the largest and best preserved historic centers on the globe. The buildings are virtually unaltered. Walking through old town feels as if you are wandering through a time warp of the colonial past – narrow sidewalks line cobblestone streets, and bright colonial buildings are garnished in overhanging clotheslines just as they could have been back in the old days.
Make your way towards the Bacilica del Voto Nacional on the outskirts of the historic district, and it’s easy to see why it is the largest neo-Gothic cathedral in the Americas. This stunning Roman Catholic structure takes up nearly two full city blocks, towering over the hilly streets of colonial Quito. It is an amazing sight, and if you’re brave enough, you can climb the rickety metal stairs straight to the top of the steeples for a real vertigo-inducing experience.
FACT #4: ECUADOR IS ONE OF THE TOP EXPAT DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD
Another little-known fact about Ecuador is that it is an extremely favorable expat destination. Especially for expats from the U.S., one of the main draws is that it is easy to handle the currency there since Ecuador now uses the USD. In addition, expats retiring here are drawn to Ecuador’s very affordable and efficient healthcare system. Ecuador offers excellent healthcare options that have been open to outsiders since 2014.
Surprisingly, Ecuador offers free public healthcare and adopts a “no refuse” policy, much unlike the horrendously expensive and sometimes inaccessible healthcare “system” in the states. Frankly, Ecuador’s healthcare makes the United State’s system look like a joke, which it is. Legal expats can now buy into the Ecuador Social Security healthcare system (IESS) for a monthly fee – which is less than $100, and monthly health insurance can cost as low as $70.
Fees and monthly healthcare bills are insanely cheaper in Ecuador than they are in the states. The cost of living isn’t bad there, either. As far as the quality goes, there seems to be no apparent issues or dangers as long as patients choose qualified doctors carefully just as they would at home.
Ecuador is a country with so much more to it than the pricey Galapagos Islands, though beautiful and intriguing as they may be. Visit here and you’ll be blown away by the under appreciation this gorgeous South American country has experienced in the past.
This place has an interesting culture that feeds its unique energy on the daily. Perhaps being so close to the center of the equator (the real one) brings it’s own unique energy that sets it apart from all the rest. Regardless, the Ecuadorian people are extremely kind, and it’s a place of awe-inspiring facts, histories, and activity. It’s no wonder people come here to live permanently and be inspired.
If you could become an expat anywhere in the world, where would it be? Let us know in the comments!