Amazon & Galapagos Day

Amazon & Galapagos Day

February 12
Two significant events happened in Ecuadoran history on the same date: the discovery of the Amazon River headwaters by Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana in 1542 and the incorporation of the Galapagos Islands in 1832. The country established the Amazon & Galapagos Day holiday during the presidency of Jaime Roldós Aguilera (1979–1981). Festivities typically focus more attention on the Amazon story and the biodiversity of that region than on Ecuador's inclusion of the Galapagos.
According to legend, Orellana and his exploration party of Spaniards and native peoples successfully arrived from the city of Quito to the grand river's headwaters only after defeating a group of warrior women known as "the Amazons." Following their discovery of the river, they sailed its course to where it emptied into the Atlantic Ocean. The alternative name for the holiday, Dia del Oriente (Orient Day), is a reference to the eastward destination of the explorers.
In observance of the anniversary, Ecuadoran presidents have visited the Amazon and paid homage to the historic expedition of 1542. Other activities include traditional dances, the presentation of folklore, and other cultural festivities.
CONTACTS:
Ecuador Embassy
2535 15th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
202-234-7200; fax: 202-667-3482
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 26