Quito (Manta), Ecuador
The small port of Manta is the gateway to Ecuador and its capital, Quito, the second highest capital in the world. A small nation the size of the United Kingdom, Ecuador has one of the world's most varied terrains -- the Galapagos, 600 watery miles to the west, and to the east, the Andes, home to Ecuador's important cities, including Quito. Founded in 1534 and one of the best-preserved cities in South America, Quito was designated a world heritage site in 1978 by UNESCO. The city, apart from its unique position right by the equator, boasts superb Baroque colonial architecture, such as the Monastery and Church of San Francisco -- the first major religious structure built in the New World.
Sponsored by the Central Bank, this small museum features quality artifacts from the Manta culture, from which the city takes its name.
Birthplace of the Panama hat, this town still makes them in small, family-run home industries. When ships come to port, Montecristi's central square adopts a market atmosphere, displaying a multitude of Panama hats and local artifacts for visitors.
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