Posted on October 9, 2015
In Ecuador's fight to break free of its Spanish rulers, one city broke away before the others—and declared itself an independent city-state.
The good news is that this ousting of the Spanish authorities was almost bloodless. The Spaniards were arrested, not killed. Quite civilized – especially for the time.
That was October 9, 1820. Since then Guayaquil (which is Ecuador's largest city and most important port, but NOT its capital city) has been celebrating its own independence in October as well as the independence of the entire nation in August 10. Here are two photos from a recent Guayaquil Independence parade:
To learn more about Guayaquil, check out this recent post.
The Equator in Ecuador
You probably know that the name Ecuador refers to the Equator, the imaginary line that circles the middle of the Earth.
That means that you can stand in a certain place in Ecuador and have one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other foot in the Southern Hemisphere.
Did you also know that the Earth bulges outward a bit in the center? That means that the Equator is just a bit farther away from the center of the Earth than places north and south of the Equator. In other words, Earth is not a perfect sphere, but is instead an “oblate spheroid.”
|This diagram shows what an oblate spheroid is.|
Of course, Earth's middle bulge isn't NEARLY as
exaggerated as this one!
\Way back in the late 1600s, Isaac Newton suggested that Earth would be an oblate spheroid – a bit squashed at the poles and a bit swollen at the equator. He wasn't able to accurately measure and check his hypothesis, but it turns out that the difference is about 13 miles (21 km). Sounds like a lot, but of course this difference is swamped by the size of the Earth, which has a diameter of almost 8,000 miles (more than 12,000 km). That's why our planet looks pretty darned round from space.
Still, Ecuador's highest mountain, Chimborazo, is the farthest point on the Earth's surface from the Earth's center. It's height of 20,564 feet – and, don't get me wrong! That's high! That's higher than the highest peak in all of North America, Denali! – still doesn't even get it into the highest 100 elevations in the world. BUT, when you add those 13 miles of the equatorial bulge – bam! Chimborazo is the record holder!
Interestingly enough, although Spanish is the official language of Ecuador, and Ecuador is Spanish for “Equator,” people in Ecuador don't normally call the Equator by their country's name. Too confusing, I'm sure! Instead, they call it “Middle of the World,” or Mitad del Mundo.
At the Mitad del Mundo monument in Quito, people can climb to the top and get a great vista of both hemispheres...But, it turns out, the monument isn't actually built on the Equator! A mistake was made in 1982, when the monument was being constructed, and our current technology is able to tell us in no uncertain terms that the actual Equator is about 100 meters (300 feet) away from the monument!
Well...that's okay! Twice the photo ops, right? People get their photo taken straddling the false, 1982-era Equator...
...and the actual Equator.
And you know what's cool? You can walk along the real Equator and see a bunch of demos and experiments that show the effects of being exactly on the Equator.
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