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Tuesday 12th December
Ecuador Facts
The highest point in Eucador is Chimborazo (6,267 m).

Cotopaxi, Ecuador's second highest point, is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.

Ecuador is the Spanish word for equator. The equator passes through Ecuador.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century Quito was the capital of the northern half of the Inca Empire.

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the Inca Empire stretched from Ecuador, through Peru and Bolivia, to northern Chile.

Pizarro, the Spanish explorer, conquered Ecuador in 1534.

Francisco Pizzarro captured the Inca ruler, Atahualpa. Despite accepting a ransom from the Incas for Atahualpa's release, Pizzarro executed him in 1533.

In 1822 the Spanish were defeated by Antonio Jose de Sucre, a lieutenant of Simon de Bolivar who won independence for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. These countries formed the Republic of Gran Colombia.

Ecuador became independent in 1830.

The Galapagos Islands, annexed by Ecuador in 1832, are famous for their unique biodiversity.

In 1859 Charles Darwin, the English naturalist, published The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. During his time on the HMS Beagle, Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands where he collected information on the flora and fauna of the islands.

One hundred years after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, the Galapagos Islands became Ecuador's first National Park.

Much of the world's balsa wood comes from Ecuador. Balsa wood is very light - balsa is the Spanish word for raft.

In 2004 members of the Tangaroa Expedition in Norway planned the construction of a balsa wood raft to cross the Pacific Ocean in the wake of Thor Heyerdahl's 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition. The balsa logs for the raft came from Ecuador. (Heyerdahl, thinking that people might have migrated from South America to Polynesia, made the Kon-Tiki Expedition, 4,300 miles from Peru to Tuamotu Island, to prove the voyage was possible.)

Quinine is obtained from the bark of the cinchona tree that grows in the Andes mountain range in Ecuador and Peru. Quinine was the first drug used to prevent and treat malaria and is a traditional treatment for muscle cramps. It is also an ingredient in tonic water.

The Achuar people are an indigenous group from the Ecuadorian rainforest. Achuar traditional medicines are derived from the flora of the forest.

Heavy rain at the beginning of 2008 led to floods and mudslides. A state of emergency was declared on 31 January.

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