Ecuador has the greatest 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 in 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 Rainforest. the highland Andes, the Coast, and the Galapagos Archipelago. These tour regions are subdivided luto provinces. Besides its exuberant biodiversity, Ecuador is home to an impressive variety of ethnic groups, including communities which still practice ancient cultural traditions (for more information see page 14).
- Location: Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in America. It lies on both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres 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.
- Religion: 95% Catholic.
- Polulation: approximately 14 million.
- Languaje: The first language is Spanish, however, most of the indigenous population speaks Quichua. There are 18 different lan-guages among native communities.
- Provinces: Galapagos Coast: Esmeraldas, Manabi, Los Rios, Guayas, Santa Elena, El Oro. Andes: Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. Cotopaxi, Tungurahua. Bolivar, Chimborazo. Cañar, Azuay and Loja. Amazonia: Sucumbios, Napo, Orellana. Pastaza, Moruna Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe.
- Currency: American Donar. The Ecuadorian government has also produced a series of local coins that have the same value as the U.S. coins (which are also accepted). Banks are open from 9h00 tu 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.
- Climate: The climate throughout the country ranges from tropical equatorial rain in the Amazon to perpetua! snow on the top of the mountains. Cities in the highlands have temperatures that vary from 50°F to 70°F, while coastal cities' temperatures vary from 60°F tu 80°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 tem-perature drops from June tu November.
- Tourist Visa: Visitors can stay up to 90 days without a visa.
- Taxi rates: The minimum rate throughout the country is $1. A 10- minute ride is approximately $2 lo $5. depending on the distance cov-ered in this time.
- Transportation: Main cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca)
have local airports serviced by the local airlines: Tame, Aerogal and Lan, in addition to international air-lines. Bus lines offer land transporta-tion throughout the coutry. Each city has its own terminal, with frequent departures to each one of the differ-ent provinces of Ecuador
- In Quito and the highlands: The weather is very unpredictable. A common saying is that you can live the tour seasons in une day: from intense sun to hail. One needs to look out the window before deciding what tu wear each day. During June, July and August the weather is sunnier but windy. During the rest of the year you need warmer clothing such as what you would wear during the fall. A raincoat or jacket is useful all year long, since at night it gets pretty chilly.
- Guayaquil and other coastal cities: Wear summer clothing ah l year round. During the rainy months. December to May, the weather is still very warm. During the months of June through November the weather is cloudy and a bit colder. Bring along a light jacket.
- Galapagos: Wear comfortable walking shoes and casual cloth-ing. Shorts, t-shirts and summer clothing will be just fine. Don't forget a hat, a camera, sun block, and a bathing sud. During the months of June to November the weather is cloudy and a bit cold-er. Bring along a light jacket.
- Amazon or Jungle: Wear clothing suitable for ruin. 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 abun-dant vegetation that you will walk through on your excursions. A hat. rubber boots and insect repellent are also a must.
While the authorities are clearly making signiticant efforts, it's nec-essary to take some precautions. We suggest some recommendations:
- Don't walk at night in badly lit areas.
- Leave documentation and valua-ble things in your hotel room or in the safety deposit boxes.
- Carry your backpack at the front, especially if you are carrying a photo camera.
- Whenever you sit al a coffee shop, restaurant. Internet cate, phone booth or any open space, keep your things next to you.
- Be aware if someone comes sus-piciously too close to you.
- Don't allow any stranger to enter into your room.
- It's recommended not to visit any plaza too late at night.
- If you travel on a bus, don't receive any candy or papers from strangers.
- When you are at the airport, pay special attention to your belongings.
- Be careful any time you go to an ATM; it's better if you go during the day.
- Don't let strangers offer you accommodation. Consult a travel agency.