The Mitad del Mundo (Spanish for Middle of the World) is a monument located in San Antonio de Pichincha, Ecuador, to the north of Quito, that marks one of the points where the equator goes through the country. The pyramidal monument, with each side facing a cardinal direction, is 30 meters (98 feet) tall, and is topped by a 4.5 meter diameter, 5-ton globe. Inside the monument is the Ethnographic Museum of the Middle of the World, a small museum with exhibits of elements of Ecuadorian culture, such as clothing, ethnic groups, and activities. A small town surrounding the monument fuctions as the tourist center, replicating a colonial Spanish town and called "Ciudad Mitad del Mundo" (Middle of the World City).
The area had been the object of a number of studies attempting to determine the exact location of the equator, with the first result being obtained in the early 1700s by Charles Marie de La Condamine. At the end of the 18th century, General Charles Perrier, from the French Academy of Sciences, was sent to lead a mission to verify that result. Later, in 1936, with the support of the French American Committee, an Ecuadorian geographer named Dr. Luis Tufiño built a 10 meter monument in San Antonio de Pichincha. In 1979, the monument was moved 7 km to the west, to the town of Calacalí. Today, a new and much larger monument stands in San Antonio de Pichincha, after being constructed between 1979 and 1982. It is made of iron and cement and covered with cut and polished andesite stones.
By kjfitz @ 2006-01-26 14:42:47