Ecuador: An Ancient Country on the Equator
Ecuador is a country in northwestern South America, with the equator crossing the northern part of its territory, bordered by Colombia to the northeast, Peru to the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples and used to be a part of the ancient Inca Empire.
The climate in the coastal plains and foothills of western Ecuador is tropical rainforest. Along the Andes Mountains stretching from Colombia to Ecuador, in the central part of the country, there are hilly areas with many basins, among which the most famous are the Quito Basin and the Cuenca Basin. There are also many Volcanoes, the Cotopaxi volcano being one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
Such a geographical location has given birth to a unique intangible cultural heritage item in Ecuador, i.e. the toquilla straw hat, which is more widely known as the Panama hat and dates back to the 17th century. These hats were eye-catching to participants in the 3rd “Colourful World” event. Toquilla is a local plant. Because of its thin, long but tough fibres, its leaves are the best material for weaving straw hats. It takes from one week to eight months to make one. Prices vary from tens of US dollars to tens of thousands of US dollars depending on the sophistication of the craftsmanship. In the booth of the Ecuadorian Embassy in China, the straw hats of over a dozen colours attracted many visitors. “They are so good-looking,” one visitor said excitedly “I have seen people wearing them in many movies. I didn't know they are from Ecuador until today. They are a little bit expensive but they are worth it. They are handmade. They are intangible cultural heritage. And I can feel they are different when I wear them.” The staff of other embassies participating in the “Colourful World” event also came over to try them. The unique Ecuador toquilla straw hat shines its brilliance in the fashion world.
“It is the second time that we are participating in the ‘Colorful World' event,” said a staff member at the booth of Ecuador. “Last year, we were also very popular here. Many people came to ask us about Ecuador. This time the atmosphere is even more enthusiastic and we have brought more featured products. Welcome everyone.”
Ecuador, a “country of bananas,” is also a popular tourism destination. Tourists from all over the world can relax there, enjoy natural scenery and experience different customs. For example, when spending time in Cuenca and Quito, visitors can experience the rich Spanish colonial culture. The old city of Quito, the capital city, was built on the ruins of an Inca city in the 1700s.
Other colourful and distinctive Ecuadorian products, including handicrafts and gemstones, attracted visitors' attention. “I have seen these hanging ornaments from afar,” said one attendee, “They are so special that we can easily tell they are from South America.” As the ornaments and gemstones carried the culture of this ancient country, visitors were eager to buy them regardless of price.
Staff from the Ecuadorian Embassy in China enthusiastically thanked the organisers of the “Colourful World” event for providing a good platform and opportunity for communication: “Many people don't know much about Ecuador,” staff commented,
“We hope that through participating in this event, we can help people to know more about Ecuador. Through communication, we can facilitate the integration of different cultures.”