The Equator



The equator, which passes through northern Ecuador (and for which the country is named), is usually visited from Quito, 14 mi/22 km to the south. The best place to "see" the equator is at the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) complex (phone 239-4803; It marks the spot on the equator where an 18th-century French expedition tested Newton's theory that the Earth bulged in the middle, which it does (each member of the expedition is honored with a small bust at the site). The equator monument itself is a 90-ft-/27-m-high building crowned by a large metal globe. Ride the elevator to the top, where you'll get some nice views of the surrounding hills from an observation area. Inside the tower, there's an ethnographic museum with exhibits on the various cultures that populate Ecuador.

Around the monument are several other attractions, including a scale model of Quito (complete with sound effects and day and night views), a mock colonial plaza and bullring, a planetarium and lots of gift shops. Be sure to buy some postcards and get them stamped at the special "Middle of the World" post office. The site is touristy but fun: If you want to have your picture taken on the equator (or, more accurately, on the yellow line that clearly marks the equator), this is the place.

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