Ecuador is an exotic and amazing country located in South America. Whether you’re familiar with this region or not, you should take a tour of Ecuador at least once in your lifetime. Here are some lesser-known facts about this gorgeous country that will help prepare you for your trip.

Going Green

If you are an environmentalist or heavily into nature and its preservation, you’d be happy to know that in 2008 Ecuador became the first country to recognize the rights of nature. The people of Ecuador believe that nature has the right to exist and treat it as such, instead of as a piece of property for humans to do with what they please. This is a huge deal for those that believe in nature preservation.

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Sun Lovers

Mount Chimborazo, which is Ecuador’s highest mountain, is actually the highest point on Earth, making it the closest point to the sun. The reason for this is that the mountain is located along what’s known as the equatorial bulge. This is a point on the Earth’s surface between the equatorial and polar diameters. As the Earth rotates, it doesn’t form a perfect sphere. Those imperfections bulge out farther than other parts of the Earth’s surface. Located here, the summit of Mount Chimborazo is the farthest point away from the Earth’s core. Pretty neat, huh?

Galápagos Islands

If you’ve ever heard of Charles Darwin than you’ve heard of the Galápagos Islands. And if you haven’t, it’s the place where Darwin’s theory of evolution was birthed. If you love wildlife, these islands have everything from humpback whales and giant tortoises to elephants. But the diversity isn’t meant just for wildlife. Each island has its own unique makeup. From volcanoes to beaches, you can visit a wide range of different habitats all in one place.

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Delicacies

Some of the food in Ecuador isn’t for the faint of heart. For example, what some might call a pet in the United States is considered a snack here. Guinea pigs, for example, are fried and sold on the street. This treat is known as Cuy. Other interesting dishes include cow’s foot soup, the chontacuro worm, and Yahuarlocro, a stew prepared with intestines.

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Fashion

You may have thought the Panama hat was from Panama, but it actually originated in Ecuador. These hats are extremely popular and worn by both men and women as a sign of fashion, but also to keep out the hot sun. So how did they get their name? The straw hats were first woven in Ecuador and brought to Panama for sale. Canal workers wore them while building the Panama Canal. Once the canal was complete, the hats were sold to travelers.

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Fruit Supplier

Ecuador exports bananas in unbelievable quantities. In 2013, Ecuador exported 2.37 billion U.S. dollars worth of the yellow fruit. Another fruit known as the banana passion, or taxo, fruit is also common to this area and contains seeds covered in pulp which is used for ice cream and juices. Other common fruits found here include kiwis, papayas, and melons. Blackberries found in this South American nation differ from those we are familiar with. These berries are larger and more tart than the U.S. variety and are also known as moras. Dragon fruit, or pitahaya, is native to Ecuador and grows on a tree cactus. These small fruits are similar to kiwis and have a gray pulp inside with many black seeds.

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Explore Ecuador

If you’re thinking about visiting Ecuador, you’ll want to consider different times of the year based on what you want to do. If you’re looking to explore the beautiful beaches, the rainy reason of December through May is actually your best bet. Why? Because the country’s dry season, which runs from June to November is often cold, muggy, and overcast. But no matter the time of year you decide to visit Ecuador, you’re sure to find an abundance of beautiful nature, enjoyable foods, and plenty of sites to see and experience.

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