192-Part Guide To The World: Ecuador
Sunday 04 June 2000
Official Name: The Republic of Ecuador
Official Name: The Republic of Ecuador
Language: The official language is Spanish, but indigenous languages such as Quechua and Jivaro are still spoken.
Size: 105,037 square miles, including the 120 Galapagos Islands, situated about 550 miles west of the mainland.
Population: Approximately 12 million.
National Dish: Cuy, or roast guinea pig. On the streets, especially in rural areas, expect to see lots of tiny barbecued bodies strung out on racks, their heads still attached to prove they're not rats. Tastier than it sounds.
Best Monument: Ecuador, as the name implies, straddles the equator, and at the monument-cum-theme park, La Mitad del Mundo, (literally "middle of the world"), 22km north of Quito, you can plant one foot north and one south of 0 degrees (or at least a line representing it).
Most Famous Citizen: Lonesome George, the last giant tortoise to be found on the island of Pinta in the Galapagos, after feral goats introduced by settlers saw the rest off the archipelago. The giant tortoise, or gÃ¡lapagos, can live for 150 years and is said to possess divine psychic powers; apparently it can tell whether a visitor's motives for coming to the islands are pure. The Curse of the Giant Tortoise is placed on those whose intentions are dubious.
Best Moment In History: After 59 years of intermittent conflict over the border with Peru (the boundary was redrawn in Rio in 1942 by foreign government ministers, but Ecuador refused to recognise the decision), a peace treaty was signed in 1999.
Worst Moment In History: The election of Abdala "El Loco" Bucaram as president in 1996. The notorious all-singing all-dancing coalition leader saw himself as more of a pop star than a politician. After subjecting the nation to a series of television performances, plugging his CD rather than selling his policies, he was finally declared unfit to rule by Ecuadorian Congress in 1997.
Essential Accessory: A Panama hat from Cuenca. It's a little-known fact that the Panama comes from Ecuador and not, as you would expect, the eponymous country.
What Not To Do: Eat toffee in the little spa town of Banos, unless you want to lose your fillings. Strung out from large wooden poles outside the shops, the toffee is stretched and beaten into very chewy bars.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 3 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 4 Motorists taunt suicidal woman on bridge and tell her to 'get on with it'
- 5 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
Are plastic planes the future of flight? Heathrow expansion reopens debate over aviation's effects on the environment
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The most powerful passports in the world
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The 10 Best hiking boots
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...