We need to talk about... Ecuador!
Globetrotters are always in the search of new destinations. As a consequence, South America has been attracting a lot of tourism. The rapid modernisation of these American countries has lead to increased numbers of visitors, and while Brazil and Argentina have always been classic South American destinations, new countries are now making the tourism hall of this diverse subcontinent. Ecuador, our nominated country for new tourism paradises, has been working hard on growing its tourism industry. By the end of this blog post, you surely will be tempted to pay a visit to this small but super diverse country.
Ecuador is a Spanish speaking country, situated beside the Pacific Ocean, to the Northwest of South America and is covered by the Amazonian forest, the Andes mountains, and sperse throughout both the North and South Hemisphere. In fact, Ecuador was named after the imaginary line that divides the world horizontally. Different than most South American countries, Ecuador is relatively small, with its land being comparable in size to New Zealand. Quito is the capital city, with a population of over 2 million inhabitants, which makes the capital the second most populated city of the country -- Guayaquil comes first.
Being a part of the former Gran-Colombia, Ecuador is a Bolivarian republic, just Like Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, Peru and Colombia. This “Bolivarian” term comes from Simón Bolivar, Venezuelan military who fought for the independence of these countries. And just like any other Bolivarian country, Ecuador is absolutely diverse, for its nature, its people and its culture. So diverse is Ecuador, that it is considered to be among the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. An interesting fact is that Ecuador was the very first country to officially and constitutionally recognize Rights of Nature.
Ecuador used to be populated by native people of the Inca Empire, when in the 16th century, the Spanish arrived to colonize the country and add more people into a melting people. Right now, the country’s population is composed of a huge majority of mestizos (mixed people between European, Amerindian and African), and minorities of Europeans and other people. If you’re already amazed by the diversity of Ecuadorian people, wait until you hear about their fauna and flora.
The Galapagos islands are internationally famous for many reasons, including for the fact that Charles Darwin himself studied the rich fauna and flora of this paradise, so basically, yes, Ecuador provided much for Darwin's discovery about the Theory of Evolution. Attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, for its biodiversity and beauty, the Galapago Islands is a human heritage by UN, and a sanctuary for the most intriguing species, such as giant turtles, eccentric lizards and centenary cactus.
Back to continental Ecuador, to the east you can find wild jungles from the Amazon forest and untouchable Amerindian people that live in anachronical societies, speaking their own language and worshipping gods you may have never heard of. There, you will be able to enjoy sauna-like weather, with rains, high humidity and very high temperatures. No need to talk much about the Amazon forest, we all know about the most remarkable forest in the world, being the most biodiverse and packed full of surprises.
Beyond the forest limits, you will bump into an enormous wall that you only may cross it if you’re brave enough… I’m talking about the Andes mountains, the world’s second highest mountain range, that stretches across all of South America, from south to north. Here you will find snow-covered mountains, volcanoes, funny animals and traditional people too. But La Sierra (which means “the mountains”, being one of the provinces of Ecuador) is also home to the second biggest city in the country, Quito, which is the national capital, by the way, the highest official capital in the world and the closest to the Ecuador Line. The city is full of attractions, such as the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, a park that marks the imaginary line between south and north hemisphere, which means that it will be able for you to step on two hemispheres at the same time.
If you what you like best are beaches and the seas, Ecuador is also the country for you. La Costa, which means “the coast”, is another geographic area of Ecuador, bathed by the Pacific Ocean, with plenty of beaches and paradisiac views. It’s also in La Costa where you can find the largest city of the country, Guayaquil, a city with nice warm weather all year round.
A good thing for tourists in Ecuador is that the country adopts U.S dollars as their official currency. We all know the hassle it is when travelling to countries with little known currencies, so you never really know precisely how much you’re paying for something in your currency. When using U.S dollars, the world’s most popular currency, everyone kind of has a better idea of how much capital they are giving in exchange for a product or service. The Ecuadorian government preferred to switch their currency to U.S dollars in 2000, after facing a disturbing financial crisis. The country is fine now, and actually even using their U.S. American currency as a strategy to bring more tourists.
According to UK’s foreign travel advice, around 26,600 British nationals visited Ecuador in 2016, with most visits being trouble free. And since Ecuador is just beside Peru, you may also include Machu Picchu in your journey, if you’re coming from outside of South America. It’s also becoming very common for globetrotters to spend a longer time in South America and therefore travel all around most countries of this Modern World continent. Just an idea for braver travellers .