Ecuador means “equator” which in turn means “equal”, not hot, like most people think, where the Sun rises and sets at six; hence there are no seasons, which means there are no extreme hot or cold temperatures to cope with, just a rainier and drier time of year, therefore, “user-friendly” for plant and animal life – and people!
That is why, though only accounting for 0.2% of the world’s land surface, Ecuador harbors such enormous biological and cultural diversity that UNESCO acknowledged three places, two cities and two national parks – Quito, Cuenca, Galapagos and Yasuní – as World Heritage Sites, and home to 10 indigenous cultures, each speaking its own language! And being small has its advantages, since you can get from one ecosystem to another fast and easy. So what ecosystems are we talking about? Well, picture this: from sea level up to its highest summit at 6,300 meters (21,000 feet), Ecuador is a vertical compendium of the world’s latitudes, spreading over Pacific lowlands, Andean highlands, Amazon forests and, in between, the lush cloud forests, plus its world-acclaimed Galapagos Islands 1000 km (600 miles) off the South American continent. Plus, it’s the only country in the entire Pacific basin to be washed by a cold and warm current, therefore contributing to its ichthyologic and agricultural abundance. Hard to believe, indeed, but amazingly true! And until you see for yourself, let’s just say that Nature made it up!