ECUADOR has the biggest biodiversity per area in the world. In a study by Conservation International, Ecuador ranked among the 17 "mega diverse" countries, alongside the United States, China, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. With 9.2 species per km2, it occupies the first place in the world with regards to species per area.
The richness of Ecuador lies in its DIVERSITY, both natural and cultural. Ecuador has 4 diverse and unique regions: the Amazon Rain Forest, the highland Andes, the Coast, and the Galapagos Archipielago.
These four regions are subdivided into provinces. Besides its exhuberant biodiversity, Ecuador is home to an impressive variety of ethnic groups, including communities who still practice ancient cultural traditions.
LOCATION: Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in America. It lies on both the Northern and the Southern Hemisphers and is divided by the Equator, thus the name of the country.
It borders Colombia (North), Peru (South and East), and the Pacific Ocean (West).
AREA: About 270.670 km2 or 168.186 square miles.
DISTANCE FROM NORTH
TO SOUTH: 1.081 km or 672 miles.
POPULATION: approximately 13 million
LANGUAGE: the first language is Spanish, however, most of the indigenous population speaks Quichua. There are 18 different languages among native communities.
- Coast: Esmeraldas, Manabi, Los Rios, Guayas, Santa Elena, el Oro.
- Andes: Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Santo Domingode los Tsáchilas, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Bolívar, Chimborazo, Cañar, Azuay and Loja.
- Amazonía: Sucumbíos, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe.
RELIGION: 95% Catholics.
CURRENCY: American Dollar. The Ecuadorian government has also prodeced a series of local coins that have the same value as the U.S. coins (which are also accepted). Banks open from 9h00 to 17h00 and on Saturdays only half day. Money exchange is offered every day in main hotels.
GOVERNMENT: democratic. Current President is Economist Rafael Correa Delgado. The Vice-President is Lenín Moreno Garcés, and the President of National Assembly is Fernando Cordero Cueva.
CLIMATE: The climate throughout the country ranges from tropical equatorial rain in the Amazon to perpetual snow on the top of the mountains. Cities in the highlands have temperatures that vary from 50º F to 70º F, while coastal cities' temperatures vary from 60º F to 80º F during the day. The weather in the jungle is constant: rainy, humid and warm.
The Galapagos Islands are sunny and warm during the months of December-May: the temperature drops from June to November.
WHAT TO WEAR:
- In Quito and the highlands the weather is very unpredictable. A common saying is that you can live the four seasons in one day: from intense sun to hail. One needs to look out the window before deciding what to wear each day. During June, July and August the weather is more sunny but windy. During the rest of the year you would need warmer clothing like those you would wear during the fall.
A raincoat or jacket would be useful all year long, since at night it gets pretty chilly.
- Guayaquil and other coastal cities: wear summer clothing all year round. During the rainy months of June to November the weather is still very warm. During the months of June to November the weather is cloudy and a bit colder. Bring along a light jacket.
Galapagos: wear confortable walking shoes and casual clothing. Shorts, t-shirts and summer clothing will be just fine. Don't forget a hat, a camera, sun block, and a bathing suit. During the months of June to November the weather is cloudy and a bit colder. Bring along a light jacket.
Amazon or Jungle: wear clothing adequate for rain. If you can get yourself a raincoat (poncho), take it with you, as well as several sets of light pants and long sleeve shirts. Shorts are less useful because of the insects and abundant vegetation that you will walk through on your excursions. A hat, rubber boots and insect repellent are also a must. For pictures, you need high-speed film.
AIRPORT TAX: $28.27 for anyone leaving the country from Guayaquil, and $ 40.80 from Quito.
TOURIST VISA: visitors can stay up to 90 days without a visa.
TAXI RATES:approximately $3 to $6 per ride from the airport to te city. these rates vary among the main cities.
TRANSPORTATION: main cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) have local airports serviced by the local airlines: Tame, Aerogal, Icaro and Lan, besides international airlines. Bus lines offer land transportation where you can just jump on the next bus leaving to your destination. Each city has its own terminal, with frecuent departure to each one of the different provinces of Ecuador.