Humboldt’s legacy on its journey through Ecuador

Disponible en español.

Ecuador’s fame for its great natural diversity has been for centuries a key attraction for important World figures who were recognized for their contribution in many branches of Science. Alexander von Humboldt, geophysicist, botanist, geologist, geographer, naturalist, volcanologist, humanist and great explorer is one of them. A Prussian naturalist who arrived to the country in 1802 to discover its natural world and register it for Science.

Here are some details you should know about this traveler and his companion, Aimé Bonpland:

  • Humboldt and Bonpland were great adventurers and expeditionaries. On their travel through Ecuador they collected important data that contributed to botany, science and ecology,
  • During its stay in Ecuador they collected important botanical information, with a collection of more than 60,000 specimens and thousands of species that were new to science.
  • The closest elevation to the sun from the Earth’s core, the Chimborazo mountain, caught the attention of this scientist who dedicated a whole folio called the Naturgemälde to this mountain. This graphic document detailed data such as: temperature, elevation, fertility, land use, vegetation, fauna and others. With the illustrations of his expeditions he endowed the World with the first modern infographics, unifying science with image. Nowadays he’s known as the first infographic illustrator.
  • The so-called Humboldt current was named after him. He was the first to discover that the marine flow had colder temperatures than the air and that it increased rapidly as it moved away from the coast.
  • He was responsible for granting the name “Avenue of the Volcanoes” to the entire Inter-Andean valley that forms the Andes mountain range with more than 70 volcanoes and mountains; 27 of them still active.
  • Humboldt and Bonpland adventurous and passionate spirit led them to the iconic Ecuadorian peeks: Pichincha, Antisana, Corazón, Ilinizas, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. Back then, the Great Chimborazo was considered the highest point on the planet and it was he with a rudimentary equipment, who first reached his snowy summit. No doubt a real traveler and great adventurer who became passionate about the Andean landscape.
  • About Ecuadorians he thought they were rare and unique beings, who sleep peacefully in the middle of crunchy volcanoes, live poorly in the midst of incomparable richness and rejoice with sad music. These were the contractions between the wealth in the Americas and the unequal Spaniard imperial control over their colonies, something the Prussian naturalist saw.

The adventures of these 19th century gentlemen shows us a rich country from all sides, which preserves life in its four worlds, which invites travelers to connect with the Pachamama (Mother Earth) creating unique links with Nature.

To remember Alexander von Humboldt is to remember his letters and great contributions to humanity, and it is also to reflect on the commitment and care for the planet, being responsible for human activity that affects and unbalances nature.

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