Traveling to Ecuador is full of surprises – with its array of well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant indigenous cultures, dense rainforest and otherworldly volcanic landscapes.

Furthermore, this beautiful country packs its perimeters with more points of interest than many countries.

Here are 30 interesting facts about Ecuador:

#1 It has a total area of 283,520 km2, including the Galápagos Islands (an area totaling 8,010 km2). The Galápagos Islands are a natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

#2 Charles Darwin visited the Galápagos Islands in 1835 during his voyage on the Beagle, and his interesting conclusions there made a decisive contribution to the development of his theories of natural selection and evolution.

#3 The capital is Quito, which is in the province of Pichincha in the Sierra region, with a population of 2,239,191 residents in 2010. Quito, after La Paz in Bolivia, is the world’s 2nd highest capital city.

#4 Before the Inca Empire (the largest empire in pre-Columbian America) began its conquest of this land in 1463, this small country was populated by different indigenous Indian tribes that were usually at war with one another.

#5 It is bordered by Peru to the East and South and by Columbia in the North, and the Pacific Ocean to the West.

#6 The official language is Spanish and is spoken by the majority of the population. However, 13 Amerindian languages are recognized, including Shuar. and Quichua.

#7 The population of this country is 15.74 million in 2013.

#8 It is governed by a presidential democracy with a system of federal states.

#9 Independence Day is celebrated on August 10th, particularly in the capital.

#10 The predominant religion is Roman Catholic. In addition, numerous indigenous tribes mixed Catholic traditions with their own, creating a unique fusion of faiths.

#11 The poverty rate has declined considerably between 1999 and 2010. For instance, in 2001 it was estimated at 40 percent of the population, while by 2011 the figure dropped to 17.4 percent of the population. The most important agricultural products are sugarcane, bananas, rice, maize, potatoes, cacao, coffee, and lemon fruits.

#12 The U.S. dollar is the official currency (replaced sucre in March 2000 at a rate of 25,000 sucres for $1).

#13 The national flag is made of 3 horizontal stripes (coat of arms superimposed at the center of the flag), the yellow top stripe corresponds to the combined widths of the red and blue stripes.

#14 The national colors are yellow, blue, and red.

#15 Life expectancy at birth is 76.19 years in 2012.

#16 The dialing code is +593.

#17 The country has over 70 universities, which are approximately attended by more than 61,000 students.

#18 According to Conservation International, it is part of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Additionally, it has the most biodiversity than any nation in the world. The environment contains almost 1,500 species of birds, 20,000 species of plants, 840 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 341 species of mammals.

#19 Tourism has experienced considerable growth in this country in the last year due to the natural attractions and historical and architectural sights.

#20 Yasuní National Park is considered the most diverse area in South America. For instance, there are more species of toads and frogs inside the park than are native to the Canada and U.S. combined.

#21 The highest mountain is Chimborazo at 6,272 m (20,577 ft). It is also considered the highest mountain from the center of the Earth.mount chimborazo is actually the highest point on earth

#22 Citizens from the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the E.U. do not require a visa to visit the country. Tourists will also receive a tourist card upon arrival that is valid for 90 days.

#23 Two important international airports can be found in this country: one in Guayaquil (Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport), and the 2nd in Quito (Mariscal Sucre International Airport ).

#24 Being on the equator, the country is a year-round destination. The most favorable weather conditions to visit Ecuador for tourists who loves mountain walks in the highlands is from June to November, swimming is from November until April, and the best time for the regions nearby the Amazon is between August and May.

#25 This country has warm coastal water year round and there are good swimming beaches at San Vicente, Atacames, Playas, and Salinas.

#26 Cotopaxi, found about 60 km south of Quito, is the world’s tallest active volcano at 5.897 m. Since 1738, this volcano has erupted 50 times, producing many spectacular valleys formed by mudflows around this great volcano.Cotopaxi Volcano, - facts & information

#27 The Ecuadorian part of the Amazon Rainforest is a diverse region due to the different altitudinal tiers close to the mountains.

#28 Ecuadorians make a variety of breakfast meals based on sweet or green plantain and yuca, such as empanadas, corviches, patacones, pan de yuca, humitas and others.

#29 Luis Antonio Valencia Mosquera, an Ecuadorian playing in the team of Manchester United, is a 1,81 m tall midfield player famous for his excellent techniques and speed.

#30 The national motto is ”Dios, patria y libertad” which translates as ”God, homeland, and liberty.”