La Mitad del Mundo – The Middle of the World in Ecuador

Posted in: Ecuador Travel, Quito Ecuador

When speaking of Ecuador, most people think of the Andean capital city of Quito with its subtropical highland climate, of the vast rain-forests with their diverse flora and fauna, and, of course, of the Galapagos Islands with their white sandy beaches. However, there is something else that makes tourists from all over the world as well as people living in Ecuador visit a small place north of Quito: La Mitad del Mundo.

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La Mitad del Mundo, or the Middle of the Earth, is probably Ecuador’s biggest claim to fame and attracts countless visitors each year. A monument commemorates the first Geodesic Mission of the French Academy of Sciences. This is where Louis Godin, Pierre Bouguer, and Charles Marie de La Condamine first determined the equatorial line in 1736. Unfortunately, their magnetic measurements were flawed. GPS measures proved that the actual equator is located 250 meters from the monument. Today, a sign states “Ecuador in the middle of the world; Latitud: 00° 00’ 00’’, calculated with GPS.”

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Image copyright Thomas Dohmke. Used under creative commons license.

Despite this little flaw, Ciudad Mitad del Mundo and its Intiñan Solar Museum are a rather popular tourist destination. Those who are interested in international life and the culture of Ecuador’s indigenous people will also find Mitad del Mundo to be a fascinating place to visit. The Museo Etnográfico shows a lot of everyday items representing indigenous customs, traditions, and rites. The museum concentrates on all three continental regions of the country. From the observation deck you have clear view of the Andes and surrounding mountains, such as the Cayambe.

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However, most people who visit Ciudad Mitad del Mundo are more curious about the middle of the earth. The Itiñan Solar Museum is a local private attraction designed for visitors’ amusements. Here, visitors get to take part in different experiments and demonstrations which are meant to show the effect of the equator. You get to balance an egg on a nail for example. Different sinks show how the water flows straight down, instead of forming a vortex, demonstrating the Coriolis Effect. Countless visitors try to walk on the line of the equator, place an egg gently on a nail, or have their picture taken in front of the monument.

But the museum also offers an insight into Ecuadorian indigenous culture, or at least those aspects which appear exciting to tourists. In two huts, you get to learn all about crafts, rites, and traditions. You will find out all about how to shoot arrows out of blow pipes and about shrunken heads and how they were made. On weekends, the entertainment reaches its peak with live music and folklore dancing.

All in all, the entire Mitad del Mundo offers lots of attractions. It does not matter if you want to learn more about Ecuador’s culture, about the equator and the history of its “discovery”, or if you simply want to have fun and take some epic pictures: Ciuadad Mitad del Mundo is the place to go in Ecuador!

This guest post provided by InterNations.org Expat social network

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Meet the Author

Since moving to Ecuador in 2009, Dena and Bryan have made their living as bloggers. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. She is a contributor to Bryan Haines and is co-founder of Click Like This - a photo tutorial blog.

2 comments… add one
  • Stewart Dec 26, 2012, 8:32 am

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you at GringosAbroad.com!

    Actually, there are many who think “Mitad del Mundo” is an important place.
    UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) new headquarters is under construction
    here, so even some diplomats think so.

    There’s also a great spa center (per my wife) to relax and get renewed.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 26, 2012, 9:50 am

      We haven’t been there yet – it is on the list though. This post was contributed.

      I’m sure that Dena will be interested in the spa…

      Thanks Stewart!

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