Ecuador

Mitad del Mundo

Written by Mark McElroy

Mitad del Mundo (“The Middle of the World”) is a Disneyesque park built right on the equator. Except — it isn’t.

An 18th Century French and Spanish survey mission insisted the line of the equator passed across this location, but we know now they missed the mark by almost 250 meters. The Ecuadoran government can be forgiven a bit for erecting a monument to the mission and promoting the park as the site of an equatorial crossing back in 1935 … but by the time they erected an even larger monument here in 1972, GPS technology had long verified that the park has nothing to do with the equator.

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If you visit today, you’ll find a bright yellow line of paint that bisects the park (The! Equator!). You’ll have opportunities to straddle the line and be photographed “in both hemispheres at once.” You can marvel at the monument. You can participate in quirky folk-science exhibits that balance eggs upright and demonstrate that water flows differently on either side of the line. Oh — and you can buy lots and lots of Mitadad del Mundo souvenirs.

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

All in good fun? Perhaps — though, given the fact the equator passes nowhere near this thing, the joke is entirely on you. Instead of promoting a mistake and a deception, Ecuador should be promoting the site of the actual equatorial crossing. That line, by the way, bisects an ancient ruined city erected by a culture who called themselves “the Cara,” and they managed to compute the location of the equator correctly 800 years before the Spanish and French got it wrong.

You tell me: who deserves a monument more: the Cara or the Europeans?

Move this quirky, touristy attraction to the very bottom of your list.

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Mark McElroy

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