In our first two Fun Facts articles we discovered some Galapagos Islands Fun Facts for Kids, as well as interesting characteristics of Galapagos geography, conservation and wildlife in part two. In this article we learn about the mother country of the famous archipelago—Ecuador!

1. Where in the World? Ecuador is a small country located on the northwestern coast of South America. It covers approximately 104,550 square miles plus the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador straddles the equator on the Pacific coast of South America and is bordered by Columbia to the north and Peru to the south and east. The Galapagos Islands form an archipelago over 600 miles off the coast of mainland Ecuador.

2. The Most Unique Place on Earth?  Umm, well, yes. Ecuador is a country the size of the state of Colorado (which happens to be home to one of the premier providers of Ecuador and Galapagos Adventures, Natural Habitat Adventures). Yet for such a small country, Ecuador possesses what no other country on earth does – it is home to the Amazon Rainforest, the magnificent Andes Mountain range, the tropical Pacific Coast, AND the world famous Galapagos Islands. In theory, you could see them all in one day – but I wouldn’t recommend trying!

Charles Darwin Photo

3. Early Peeps  Although most historical accounts of early inhabitants in this region of the world, point to the great Inca Civilization as early as the 11th Century, Ecuador’s earliest inhabitants actually resided in the Andes as hunters and gatherers, having arrived from Asia across the Bering Strait between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago. As agriculture developed they settled in the fertile valley of the Andean Sierras. On the coast, related tribes with different dialects combined hunting, fishing, agriculture, trade and war with each other, as well as trading with tribes of the highlands. From as far back as 10,000 B.C. spear tips belonging to the earliest groups have been discovered.Though little evidence provides testimony about Ecuador’s pre-Incan past, by around 3500 B.C. a fairly well developed culture known today as the Valdivians resided along the central coastal plain near what today is Santa Elena, along the south-central coast. Small earthenware figurines, most likely related to fertility rites and religious rituals within the Valdivia culture, have been discovered in this region and are still on display in small archeological museums, as well as in Quito and Guayaquil. Other, more recent archeological sites exist in Esmeraldas and Manabí coastal Provinces, and in the northern highlands.

Quechua Women in Otavalo, Ecuador

Photo (c) Julie Deemer

4. Ecuador Today  Interestingly, Ecuador is the only Latin American country whose currency is now the US dollar.

5. Nature Has Rights?  The Ecuadorian Constitution was rewritten in 2007-2008, to include a new chapter called “Rights for Nature,” which acknowledges that nature can no longer be considered property but, in all its forms, has the “right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structures, functions and its processes in evolution.” As a result, ecosystems can be named as defendants in court cases. While a vital and necessary victory for such an ecologically diverse and biologically rich country, this was until recently far from the case. In fact, the rights of nature only resulted after many decades of oil and mineral extraction, along with indigenous human dislocation and exploitation. This resulted in equally long protests by locals and by advocate organizations globally, who fought for years in order to ensure that there would be a finer future for Ecuador and all of its inhabitants.

For an amazing journey of a lifetime to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, check out Natural Habitat Adventures’ small-ship Galapagos cruises.