Ecuador, which borders the Pacific Ocean, lies in the northwestern region of South America. The Galapagos Island, 965 kilometers of the coast of the Ecuador mainland, is also part of this sovereign nation. Quito city, located in the Andes Mountains, is the capital of Ecuador while the title of the largest city goes to Guayaquil, a port city at the coastal region. The population of Ecuador is estimated to be at 13.5 million people. Even though the country lies on the equator, the climate varies from region to region because of the mountainous regions.
The Country is divided in four main geographical regions:
This is a highland region, which runs across through the center of Ecuador from the north to the south. This, in essence, divides the country into the Costa region west of the Sierra and the Oriente west of the Sierra. The Sierra is a mountainous region with many active volcanic cones. Cotopaxi with a height of 5,897 meters is located here. It is classified as one of the highest active Volcanoes in the world. Because of its elevation, the climatic temperature of this region is relatively cool.
This region comprises mainly of low-lying plains and gentle hills running along the pacific coast. There are intensive cultivations of crops here because of the fertile soils. The Costa is characterizes by a hot humid tropical climate.
This region covers almost half of the country. The area is mostly a dense tropical rainforest. Even though oil is found in the north of this region, the area is relatively unpopulated. As with the Costa region, the climate here is tropical in nature and yearly rainfall exceeds 100 inches.
These islands are a group of 13 large volcanic islands located 956 kilometers away from Ecuador's coastline.
For any traveler to this country, Ecuador offers a varieties of places to visit. In the Galapagos Islands, many unusual plants and animals can be found. The name of the Islands came from the Spanish word, “Galapago” which means riding saddle. This is not surprising as the islands are home to giant turtles whose shells resembles saddles. Another tourist highlight of the country is the capital Quito. Much of the colonial architecture is still preserved in the city historical center. In Fact UNESCO has classified the city as a World heritage site. Apart from these, Ecuador also has other tourist attractions like the snowcapped “Avenues of Volcanoes” which has a breathtaking view especially in the night when the fires of the Craters cast a spectacular glow up in the clouds. For the water lovers, they will not be disappointed as the country has palm fringed white beaches along the pacific coast. The Inca ruins will delight others who are into archeological sightseeing.
The official language of the country is Spanish, although many of the indigenous people still speak the Incan original language, Quechua. Today, 96 percent of the population practices the Roman Catholic faith while the natives of the Oriente still preserve their ancient religions. The Protestants comprises of 2 percent of the people living in Ecuador. Because the geographical landscape plays an inhibiting role in the fusion of cultures, the country has very glaring contrasting cultures. The natives of the Sierra still keep to their traditional Incan culture. The people of the Oriente resemble natives from the Amazon basin while the people of the Costa, were largely influenced by the Spanish.
The system of Government adopted by Ecuadorian follows the classic republican format as in most Latin American nations. The legal tender of the country, the Sucre
, since March 2000 has been changed to the United States Dollar in an effort to stabilize the country economy and fight inflation.
Many airlines fly to Quito in Ecuador. However, the main airline now serving Ecuador is “ LAN Ecuador” which is owned by LAN Airlines and Translloyd. Those from the US and EEC countries are not required to have a visa to enter the country if their intended stay is less than 90 days. All that is required is that the passport must have at least 6 months validity in it before travel.