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Today I've read that the center of the earth is in Ecuador. Is this true? Obviously the equator goes through Ecuador, but how can the surface of a sphere have a center? Besides this mathematical problem: IS there a monument that I can visit?

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That makes no sense. The centre of the earth is inside the planet, eh? Closest points on the surface to the centre are the poles. –  Jonik Dec 16 '11 at 17:26
    
Or possibly sea level or possibly the bottom of the Marianas Trench or possibly at the point on the surface the lowest below sea level, depending on how you define "surface". –  hippietrail Dec 16 '11 at 17:40
    
or it is at zero longitude and zero latitude, off the coast of East Africa. It all depends how you define center. –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 16 '11 at 17:44
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Since the earth is not a perfect sphere, the earth's "center of mass" is not the exact center of the earth. Thus, there is a point on the surface, within a country, that is closer to the earth's center of mass than any other point. Ecuador? –  SamtheBrand Dec 16 '11 at 18:24
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The equatorial bulge still means that points near the equator are farthest from earth's centerpoint. And likely from center of mass too (or is there some evidence on the contrary?). Interestingly, "An often-cited result of Earth's equatorial bulge is that the highest point on Earth, measured from the center outwards, is the peak of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, rather than Mount Everest." –  Jonik Dec 16 '11 at 18:38
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There is actually a monument called 'Mitad del Mundo' (Middle of the World) in Ecuador. However they claim this is based on being on the equator (it turned out later they were off by 240 meters when choosing the spot).

Why the place is more special (middle, centered) than any other place on the equator I don't know.

It is a bit of a cheesy place but makes a fun day trip from Quito.

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Thanks! That's the place I'm looking for. Good answer. –  RoflcoptrException Dec 16 '11 at 17:45
    
At least calling it "Mitad del Mundo" makes more sense than "Centro del Mundo" :) –  Jonik Dec 16 '11 at 18:43
    
is it in the middle longitudinally? That is with 0 at Greenwich? If not, where is that? –  Kate Gregory Dec 16 '11 at 18:51
    
As I wrote in a comment above, that would be in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of West Africa –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 16 '11 at 18:56
    
Sorry the confusion was caused by the translation from German in English. That's the reason I used "center". –  RoflcoptrException Dec 17 '11 at 0:13
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A 45 min bus ride from Quito (any local can tell you which bus) will get you to the Equator monument. However as Peter mentioned, it's a bit of a cheesy place. On arrival, there's a huge monument which costs to see, and costs more to go up. However, you can take photos and jump back and forth between "Spring" and "Autumn" or "Winter" and "Summer" as you cross the line. For example, here is me, at the equator:

Me at the equator in Ecuador

However, it's NOT the equator. They measured it at the time, and took their point of reference. Then later on the army came and did more measuring, and decided it was a couple of hundred metres further north. Conveniently, a little museum and garden was there, so now the line runs directly through them as the 'proper one'. However, since then, more have claimed it's even further north, and that some tribe in the region once built some marker and they were even closer back then!

As it happens, I had my GPS Smartphone on me, and that claimed it was further north still - a couple of hundred metres ;)

In the end it totally depends on what mathematics you use, how you calculate the 'spherical' nature of the earth, and how obsessed you are.

The tour guides at the Intiñan Solar Museum, however, will tell you that you're on the equator and as such can flush toilets on different sides to see the water go down the wrong way, balance an egg on its end, and so on. However, this has ZERO relevance - the latitude has no effect on these at all (yes, the Simpsons were wrong too). The Coriolis effect, normally cited for this, doesn't have that much effect in small, localised situations.

The only other reference Ecuador has to the 'center' of the planet, is that it has Mount Chimborazo (6,310 m above sea level), the top of which is considered to be the most distant point from the centre of the earth, given the ovoid shape of the planet.

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