Quito, Ecuador

Quito at night

Flanked by volcanoes and near the Galapagos Islands, Quito, Ecuador is one of the most unique cities in South America.  Located in the northern highlands in the Guayllabamab river basin, Quito is the closest capital city to the equator.  The second most populated city in the country (over 2,000,000), after Guayaquil, Quito is the seat of the Metropolitan District of Quito, the capital of the Pichincha province, and the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations.

Iglesia San Francisco

Along with Kraków, Poland, Quito was one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978.  This declaration was largely due to the natural beauty in combination with the fact that the historic center of Quito is one of the largest, least altered, and best preserved historic centers in all of the Americas.  A monument and a museum mark the rough location of the equator but it is referred to as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the world).


Quito Facts:

  • Quito is made up of 32 urban parishes.
  • A person from Quito is called a Quiteño(a) depending on gender.
  • Quito was officially founded on December 6, 1534 by Sebastián de Belalcázar.
  • The central square of Quito is located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the equator.
  • The word Ecuador is Spanish for equator.
  • With an altitude listed at 2,820 meters (9,250 feet), Quito is one of the highest capital cities in the world. Officially it is the highest but it is lower in altitude than La Paz, Bolivia and Lhasa, Tibet.
  • Quito is the largest city in contribution to national GDP of Ecuador.