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Republic of Ecuador
República del Ecuador  (Spanish)
Ikwadur Republika  (Quechua)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Dios, patria y libertad"  (Spanish)
"Pro Deo, Patria et Libertate"  (Latin)
"God, homeland and liberty"
AnthemSalve, Oh Patria  (Spanish)
We Salute You, Our Homeland
Capital Quito
00°9′S 78°21′W / 0.15°S 78.35°W / -0.15; -78.35
Largest city Guayaquil
Official language(s) Spanish
Ethnic groups  65% mestizo,
25% Indigenous.[1],
7% Spanish or White,
3% black
Demonym Ecuadorian
Government Unitary presidential republic
 -  President Rafael Correa
 -  Vice President Lenín Moreno
 -  from Spain May 24, 1822 
 -  from Gran Colombia May 13, 1830 
 -  Total 256,370 km2 (77th)
98,985 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 4
 -  2008 estimate 13,625,000[2] (67th)
 -  Density 53.8/km2 (151st)
139.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $108.389 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $7,785[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $54.686 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $3,928[3] 
Gini  42 (medium
HDI (2007) 0.806[4] (high) (80th)
Currency U.S. dollar2 (USD)
Time zone ECT, GALT (UTC-5, -6)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .ec
Calling code +593
1 Quechua and other Amerindian languages spoken by indigenous communities.
2 Sucre until 2000, followed by the U.S. dollar and Ecuadorian centavo coins

Ecuador (pronounced /ˈɛkwədɔr/), officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador, pronounced [reˈpuβlika ðel ekwaˈðor]), literally, "Republic of the equator") is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) west of the mainland.

Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name, and has an area of 256,370 square kilometers (98,990 sq mi). Its capital city is Quito, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic center in Latin America.[5] The country's largest city is Guayaquil. The historic center of Cuenca, the third largest city in the country, was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, for being an outstanding example of a planned inland Spanish style colonial city in the Americas.[6] Ecuador is also home—despite its size—to a great variety of species, many of them endemic, like those of the Galápagos islands. This species diversity makes Ecuador one of the seventeen megadiverse countries in the world.[7] The new constitution of 2008 is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights.[8]

Ecuador is a presidential republic and became independent in 1830, after having been part of the Spanish colonial empire and the republic of Gran Colombia. It is a medium-income country with an HDI score of 0.807 (2007), and about 38.3% of the people living below the poverty line.[9]



Evidence of human cultures in Ecuador exists from c. 3500 B.C.[10] Many civilizations rose throughout Ecuador, such as the Valdivia Culture and Machalilla Culture on the coast, the Quitus (near present day Quito) and the Cañari (near present day Cuenca). Each civilization developed its own distinctive architecture, pottery, and religious interests, although consolidated under a confederation called the Shyris which exercised organized trading and bartering between the different regions and whose political and military power was under the rule of the Duchicela blood line before the Inca invasion. After years of fiery resistance by the Cayambes and other tribes, as demonstrated by the battle of Yahuarcocha (Blood Lake) where thousands of resistance fighters were killed and thrown in the lake, the region fell to the Incan expansion and was assimilated loosely into the Incan empire.


Inca Empire

Through a succession of wars and marriages among the nations that inhabited the valley, the region became part of the Inca Empire in 1463. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived from the north, the Inca Empire was ruled by Huayna Capac, who had two sons: Atahualpa, being in charge of the northern parts of the empire, and Huascar, seated in the Incan capital Cusco. Upon Huayna Capac's death in 1525, the empire was divided in two: Atahualpa received the north, with his capital in Quito; Huascar received the south, with its capital in Cusco. In 1530, Atahualpa defeated Huascuar and conquered the entire empire.

In 1531, the Spanish conquistadors, under Francisco Pizarro, arrived to find an Inca empire torn by civil war. Atahualpa wanted to reestablish a unified Incan empire; the Spanish, however, had conquest intentions and established themselves in a fort in Cajamarca, captured Atahualpa during the Battle of Cajamarca (1532), and held him for ransom. The Incas filled one room with gold and two with silver to secure his release. Despite being surrounded and vastly outnumbered, the Spanish executed Atahualpa. To escape the confines of the fort, the Spaniards fired all their cannon and broke through the lines of the bewildered Incas. In subsequent years, the Spanish colonists became the new elite, centering their power in the vice-royalties of Nueva Granada and Lima.


Disease decimated the indigenous population during the first decades of Spanish rule — a time when the natives also were forced into the encomienda labor system for Spanish landlords. In 1563, Quito became the seat of a real audiencia (administrative district) of Spain and part of the Vice-Royalty of Lima, and later the Vice-Royalty of Nueva Granada.

File:Quito Centro.jpg
Old downtown Quito, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

After nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Quito was still a small city of only 10,000 inhabitants. It was there, on August 10, 1809 (the national holiday), that the first call for independence from Spain was made in Latin America ("Primer Grito de la Independencia"), under the leadership of the city's criollos like Juan Pío Montúfar, Quiroga, Salinas, and Bishop Cuero y Caicedo. Quito's nickname, "Luz de América" ("Light of America"), comes from the fact that it was the first successful attempt to produce an independent and local government, although for no more than two months, that had an important repercussion and inspiration for the emancipation of the rest of Spanish America. Quito is also known as "La Cara de Dios" ("The Face of God") for the beauty of its religious colonial art and architecture cloistered in the amazing equatorial Andes landscape.


On October 9, 1820, Guayaquil became the first city in Ecuador to gain its independence from Spain. On May 24, 1822, the rest of Ecuador gained its independence after Antonio José de Sucre defeated the Spanish Royalist forces at the Battle of Pichincha, near Quito. Following the battle, Ecuador joined Simón Bolívar's Republic of Gran Colombia - joining with modern day Colombia and Venezuela – only to become a republic in 1830.

The 19th century for Ecuador was marked by instability, with a rapid succession of rulers. The first president of Ecuador was the Venezuelan-born Juan José Flores, who was ultimately deposed, followed by many authoritarian leaders such as Vicente Rocafuerte; José Joaquín de Olmedo; José María Urbina; Diego Noboa; Pedro José de Arteta; Manuel de Ascásubi; and Flores's own son, Antonio Flores Jijón, among others. The conservative Gabriel Garcia Moreno unified the country in the 1860s with the support of the Roman Catholic Church. In the late 19th century, world demand for cocoa tied the economy to commodity exports and led to migrations from the highlands to the agricultural frontier on the coast.

Liberal Revolution

The coast-based Liberal Revolution of 1895 under Eloy Alfaro reduced the power of the clergy and the conservative land owners of the highlands, and this liberal wing retained power until the military "Julian Revolution" of 1925. The 1930s and 1940s were marked by instability and emergence of populist politicians, such as five-time President José María Velasco Ibarra.

War with Peru

Colonial city gates of Loja

Control over territory in the Amazon basin led to a long-lasting dispute between Ecuador and Peru. In 1941, amid fast-growing tensions between the two countries, war broke out. Peru claimed that Ecuador's military presence in Peruvian-claimed territory was an invasion; Ecuador, for its part, claimed that Peru had invaded Ecuador. In July 1941, troops were mobilized in both countries. Peru had an army of 11,681 troops who faced a poorly supplied and inadequately armed Ecuadorian force of 2,300, of which only 1,300 were deployed in the southern provinces. Hostilities erupted on July 5, 1941, when Peruvian forces crossed the Zarumilla river at several locations, testing the strength and resolve of the Ecuadorian border troops. Finally, on July 23, 1941, the Peruvians launched a major invasion, crossing the Zarumilla river in force and advancing into the Ecuadorian province of El Oro.

During the course of the war, Peru gained control over part of the disputed territory and some parts of the province of El Oro, and some parts of the province of Loja, demanding that the Ecuadorian government give up its territorial claims. The Peruvian Navy blocked the port of Guayaquil, almost cutting all supplies to the Ecuadorian troops. After a few weeks of war and under pressure by the United States and several Latin American nations, all fighting came to a stop. Ecuador and Peru came to an accord formalized in the Rio Protocol, signed on January 29, 1942, in favor of hemispheric unity against the Axis Powers in World War II favoring Peru with the territory they occupied at the time of the war came to an end.

Recession and popular unrest led to a return to populist politics and domestic military interventions in the 1960s, while foreign companies developed oil resources in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 1972, construction of the Andean pipeline was completed. The pipeline brought oil from the east side of the Andes to the coast, making Ecuador South America's second largest oil exporter. The pipeline in southern Ecuador did nothing, however, to resolve tensions between Ecuador and Peru.

The Rio Protocol failed to precisely resolve the border along a small river in the remote Cordillera del Cóndor region in southern Ecuador. This caused a long-simmering dispute between Ecuador and Peru, which ultimately led to fighting between the two countries; first a border skirmish in January-February 1981 known as the Paquisha Incident, and ultimately full-scale warfare in January 1995 where the Ecuadorian military shot down Peruvian aircraft and helicopters and Peruvian infantry marched into southern Ecuador. Each country blamed the other for the onset of hostilities, known as the Cenepa War. Sixto Durán Ballén, the Ecuadorian president, famously declared that he would not give up a single centimeter of Ecuador. Popular sentiment in Ecuador became strongly nationalistic against Peru: graffiti could be seen on the walls of Quito referring to Peru as the "Cain de Latinoamérica," a reference to the murder of Abel by his brother Cain in the Book of Genesis.[11]

Ecuador and Peru reached a tentative peace agreement in October 1998, which ended hostilities, and the Guarantors of the Rio Protocol ruled that the border of the undelineated zone was indeed the line of the Cordillera del Cóndor, as Peru had been claiming since the 1940s. While Ecuador had to give up its decades-old territorial claims to the eastern slopes of the Cordillera, as well as to the entire western area of Cenepa headwaters, Peru was compelled to give to Ecuador, in perpetual lease but without sovereignty, one square kilometer of its territory, in the area where the Ecuadorian base of Tiwinza — focal point of the war — had been located within Peruvian soil and which the Ecuadorian Army held as their strong hold all the time during the conflict. The final border demarcation came into effect on May 13, 1999.

Military governments (1972–1979)

In 1972 a "revolutionary and nationalist" military junta overthrew the government of Velasco Ibarra. The coup d'état was led by General Guillermo Rodríguez and executed by navy commander Jorge Queirolo G. The new president exiled José María Velasco to Argentina. He remained in power until 1976, when he was removed by another military government. That military junta was led by Admiral Alfredo Poveda, who was declared chairman of the Supreme Council. The Supreme Council included two other members: General Guillermo Durán Arcentales and General Luis Leoro Franco. After the country stabilized socially and economically, the Supreme Council held democratic elections and enabled the new democratically elected president to assume the duties of the executive office.

Return to democracy

Elections were held on April 29, 1979, under a new constitution. Jaime Roldós Aguilera was elected president, garnering over one million votes, the most in Ecuadorian history. He took office on August 10 as the first constitutionally elected president after nearly a decade of civilian and military dictatorships. In 1980 he founded the Partido Pueblo, Cambio y Democracia (People, Change and Democracy Party) after withdrawing from the Concentracion de Fuerzas Populares (Popular Forces Concentration) and governed until May 24, 1981, when he died along with his wife and the minister of defense, Marco Subia Martinez, when his Air Force plane crashed in heavy rain near the Peruvian border. Many people believe that he was assassinated,[citation needed] given the multiple death threats leveled against him because of his reformist agenda, deaths in automobile crashes of two key witnesses before they could testify during the investigation and the sometimes contradictory accounts of the incident.

Roldos was immediately succeeded by Vice President Osvaldo Hurtado who was followed in 1984 by León Febres Cordero from the Social Christian Party. Rodrigo Borja Cevallos of the Democratic Left (Izquierda Democrática or ID) party won the presidency in 1988, running in the runoff election against Abdalá Bucaram (brother in law of Jaime Roldos and founder of the Ecuadorian Roldosist Party). His government was committed to improving human rights protection and carried out some reforms, notably an opening of Ecuador to foreign trade. The Borja government concluded an accord leading to the disbanding of the small terrorist group, "¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo!" ("Alfaro Lives, Dammit!") named after Eloy Alfaro. However, continuing economic problems undermined the popularity of the ID, and opposition parties gained control of Congress in 1990.

The emergence of the indigenous population (approximately 25%) as an active constituency has added to the democratic volatility of the country in recent years. The population has been motivated by government failures to deliver on promises of land reform, lower unemployment and provision of social services, and historical exploitation by the land-holding elite. Their movement, along with the continuing destabilizing efforts by both the elite and leftist movements, has led to a deterioration of the executive office. The populace and the other branches of government give the president very little political capital, as illustrated by the most recent removal of President Lucio Gutiérrez from office by Congress in April 2005. Vice President Alfredo Palacio took his place and remained in office until the presidential election of 2006, in which Rafael Correa defeated Alvaro Noboa in a runoff election.[12]


Ecuador's current elected president, Rafael Correa

Ecuador is governed by a democratically elected President, for a four year term. The current president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, exercises his power from the presidential Palacio de Carondelet in Quito. The current constitution was written by the Ecuadorian Constituent Assembly elected in 2007, and was approved by referendum in 2008.

The executive branch includes 25 ministries. Provincial governors and councilors (mayors, aldermen, and parish boards) are directly elected. The National Congress of Ecuador meets throughout the year except for recesses in July and December. There are 69 seven-member congressional committees. Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Congress for indefinite terms.

Ecuador has often placed great emphasis on multilateral approaches to international issues. Ecuador is a member of the United Nations (and most of its specialized agencies) and a member of many regional groups, including the Rio Group, the Latin American Economic System, the Latin American Energy Organization, the Latin American Integration Association, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America and the Andean Community of Nations.

Administrative divisions

Ecuador is divided into 24 provinces (provincias), each with its own administrative capital:

Map Key  Province Capital
1 Flag of the Province of Azuay  Azuay Cuenca
2 Bandera Província Bolívar.svg  Bolívar Guaranda
3 Bandera Província Cañar.svg  Cañar Azogues
4 Carchi Flag.png  Carchi Tulcán
5 Bandera Província Chimborazo.svg  Chimborazo Riobamba
6 Bandera Província Cotopaxi.svg  Cotopaxi Latacunga
7 El Oro.png  El Oro Machala
8 EsmeraldasPRVFlag.png  Esmeraldas Esmeraldas
9 Flag of the Galápagos Islands.svg  Galápagos Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
10 Flag of Guayaquil.svg  Guayas Guayaquil
11 Bandera Província d'Imbabura.svg  Imbabura Ibarra
12 Bandera Província Loja.svg Loja Loja
Map Key Province Capital
13 Los Rios.png Los Ríos Babahoyo
14 Manabi Flag.png Manabí Portoviejo
15 Morona-Santiago Flag.png Morona-Santiago Macas
16 Napo Flag.png Napo Tena
17 Orellana Flag.png Orellana Puerto Francisco de Orellana
18 Bandera Província Pastaza.svg Pastaza Puyo
19 Bandera Província Pichincha.svg Pichincha Quito
20 Santa Elena flag.png Santa Elena Santa Elena
21 SantDomergueDelsTsachilas.PNG Santo Domingo Santo Domingo de Los Colorados
22 Sucumbios Flag.png Sucumbíos Nueva Loja
23 Bandera Província Tungurahua.svg Tungurahua Ambato
24 Bandera Província Zamora CHinchipe.svg Zamora-Chinchipe Zamora

Map of Ecuador

The provinces are divided into cantons, and further subdivided into parishes (parroquias).


Ecuador has three main geographic regions, plus an insular region in the Pacific Ocean:

  • La Costa, or the coast, comprises the low-lying land in the western part of the country, including the Pacific coastline.
  • La Sierra ("the highlands") is the high-altitude belt running north-south along the center of the country, its mountainous terrain dominated by the Andes mountain range.
  • La Amazonía, also known as El Oriente ("the east"), comprises the Amazon rainforest areas in the eastern part of the country, accounting for just under half of the country's total surface area, though populated by less than 5% of the population.
  • The Región Insular is the region comprising the Galápagos Islands, some 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) west of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean.

Ecuador's capital is Quito, which is in the province of Pichincha in the Sierra region. Its largest city is Guayaquil, in the Guayas Province. Cotopaxi, which is just south of Quito, features one of the world's highest active volcanoes. The top of Mount Chimborazo (6,310-m above sea level) is considered to be the most distant point from the center of the earth, given the ovoidal shape of the planet (wider at the equator).


Although the country is not particularly large, there is great variety in the climate, largely determined by altitude. The Pacific coastal area has a tropical climate, with a severe rainy season. The climate in the Andean highlands is temperate and relatively dry; and the Amazon basin on the eastern side of the mountains shares the climate of other rain forest zones.

Because of its location at the equator, Ecuador experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year.


Ecuador is one of seventeen megadiverse countries in the world according to Conservation International.[7] With 1,600 bird species (15% of the world's known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more endemic in the Galápagos. In addition to over 16, 000 species of plants, the country has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly. The Galápagos Islands are well known as a region of distinct fauna, famous as the place of birth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[13]

Despite being on the UNESCO list, the Galapagos are endangered by a range of negative environmental effects, threatening the existence of this exotic ecosystem.[14] Additionally, oil exploitation of the Amazon rain forest has led to the release of billions of gallons of untreated wastes, gas, and crude oil into the environment, contaminating ecosystems and causing detrimental health effects to indigenous peoples.[15]

Economy and transport

World Trade Center Guayaquil.

Ecuador's natural resources include petroleum, fish, shrimp, timber and gold. In addition, it has rich agriculture: bananas, flowers, coffee, cacao, sugar, tropical fruits, palm oil, palm hearts, rice, roses, and corn.[16] The country´s greatest national export is crude oil.[17] Fluctuations in world market prices can have a substantial domestic impact. Industry is largely oriented to servicing the domestic market, with some exports to the Andean Common market.

Deteriorating economic performance in 1997-98 culminated in a severe economic and financial crisis in 1999. The crisis was precipitated by a number of external shocks, including the El Niño weather phenomenon in 1997, a sharp drop in global oil prices in 1997-98, and international emerging market instability in 1997-98. These factors highlighted the Government of Ecuador's unsustainable economic policy mix of large fiscal deficits and expansionary money policy and resulted in a 7.3% contraction of GDP, annual year-on-year inflation of 52.2%, and a 65% devaluation of the national currency, the sucre, in 1999, which helped precipitate a default on external loans later that year.

On January 9, 2000, the administration of President Jamil Mahuad announced its intention to adopt the U.S. dollar as the official currency of Ecuador to address the ongoing economic crisis. The formal adoption of the dollar, as opposed to merely pegging the sucre to the dollar as Argentina had done, theoretically meant that the return from seigniorage would accrue to the U.S. government. Subsequent protests related to the economic and financial crises led to the removal of Mahuad from office and the elevation of Vice President Gustavo Noboa to the presidency. However, the Noboa government confirmed its commitment to dollarize as the centerpiece of its economic recovery strategy. The government also entered into negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), culminating in the negotiation of a 12-month standby arrangement with the IMF. Additional policy initiatives include efforts to reduce the government's fiscal deficit and to implement structural reforms to strengthen the banking system and regain access to private capital markets. Higher oil prices at the beginning of the 21st century allowed the Ecuadorian economy to recover, which has reduced poverty substantially since then.

On December 12, 2008, President Correa announced that his government would not make an interest payment due on the country's 2012 and 2030 global bonds, triggering a default on the country's outstanding $3.2 billion of global bonds. Correa, who holds a graduate degree in economics, argued against complying with the debt payment, calling it "illegitimate."[18] On April 16, 2009, Finance Minister Maria Elsa Viteri, traveled to Europe with Ecuador's proposal to buy back global bonds 2012 and 2030 at 30% of their value. The goal is to retire most or all of the bonds, cutting the foreign debt by one third. On June 11, 2009, Ecuador announced that it had successfully bought 91% of the bonds at a cost of 30-35 cents to the dollar. The Finance Minister said that the remaining bond holders will have another opportunity to sell their bonds at the same price of 35%. This successful move will reduce the total foreign debt by $2 billion dollars, plus $7 billion on saved interest until 2030.

Ecuador has a network of national highways maintained by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Comunicaciones (Ministry of Public Works and Communication). The Pan-American Highway connects the northern and southern portions of the country as well as connecting Ecuador with Colombia to the north and Peru to the south. The quality of roads, even on truck routes, is highly variable. There is an extensive network of intercity buses that use these mountain roads and highways. The most modern Ecuadorian Highway connects Guayaquil with Salinas. The Empresa de Ferrocarriles Ecuatorianos is the Ecuadorian national railway. The Interandean Railroad is essentially defunct; only the short "devil´s nose" section is usable. Tourists usually board the train in Azuay, some opt for a longer trip from Riobamba (if available).


Ecuador's population is ethnically diverse. The largest ethnic group (as of 2007) is the Mestizos, who are the descendants of Spanish colonists and the indigenous people which constitute the 65% of the population based on a self-determined census. Amerindians account for 25% of the current population. The unmixed descendants of early Spanish colonists, independently of their ethnic Iberian or Mediterranean origin called "Criollos" as well as immigrants from other European countries, account for about 7% of the population. Afro-Ecuadorians, including Mulattos and zambos, are also a minority, are largely based in Esmeraldas and Imbabura provinces, and make up 3% of the population.[1]


Basílica del Voto Nacional in old downtown Quito

Approximately 95% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic (see List of Roman Catholic dioceses in Ecuador), and 4% are Protestants. In the rural parts of Ecuador, indigenous beliefs and Catholicism are sometimes syncretized. Most festivals and annual parades are based on religious celebrations, many incorporating a mixture of rites and icons.

The Jewish community of Ecuador, with domicile in Quito, has about 500 members. However, this number is decreasing because young people are emigrating to study in Israel or elsewhere abroad and not returning.[19] There are some small percentages of Eastern Orthodox Christians, indigenous religions, Muslims (see Islam in Ecuador), Buddhists and Bahá'í. Ecuador also has a rapidly growing number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about 1.4% of the population or about 185,000 members.[20][21]

Population density

Las Peñas neighborhood, emblematic district of Guayaquil.

The majority of Ecuadorians live in the central provinces inland in the Andes mountains, or along the Pacific coast. The tropical forest region to the east of the mountains (El Oriente) remains sparsely populated and contains only about three percent of the population. City Populations 2003[22]


Ecuadorian constitution recognizes the "pluri-nationality" of those who want to exercise their affiliation with their native ethnic groups. Therefore, in addition to criollos, mestizos, or Afro-Ecuadorians, some people belong to the indigenous nations scattered in few places in the coast, Quechua Andean villages, and the Amazonian jungle.

Immigration and emigration

A small east Asian Latino community estimated at 2,500 mainly consists of those of Japanese and Chinese descent, whose ancestors arrived as miners, farm hands and fishermen in the late 19th century.[23]


Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its Hispanic mestizo majority and, like their ancestry, is traditionally of Spanish heritage influenced at different degrees with Amerindian traditions and in some cases with African elements. Since African slavery was not the workforce of the Spanish colonies in the "Terra Firme" (South-America) given the subjugation of the indigenous people through evangelism and encomiendas, the minor African descendant elements are found in the northern provinces of Esmeraldas and Imbabura thanks to the 17th century shipwreck of an slave-trading galleon in front of the northern coast of Ecuador, and whose few black African survivors swam to the shore and penetrated the then thick jungle under the leadership of Anton, the chief of the group, where remained as free-men while maintaining their original culture not influenced by the typical elements found on other provinces of the coast or in the Andean region. Also, Ecuador's indigenous communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees,[24] but some may also practice their own indigenous peoples\autochthonous cultures, particularly the more remote indigenous communities of the Amazon basin. Spanish is spoken as the first language by more than 90% of the population and as first and second language by more than 98%. One part of Ecuador's population can speak Amerindian languages, but just as a second language. Two percent of the population speaks only Amerindian languages because they have never attended school.

Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional 3 course meal of sopa/soup and segundo/second dish which includes rice and a protein such as meat, poultry, pig or fish. Then desert and a coffee are customary. Dinner is usually lighter and sometimes just coffee or agua de remedio/herbal tea with bread. In the mountain regions, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn or potatoes). Seafood is very popular at the coast, where prawns, shrimp and lobster are key parts of the diet. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals. In the rainforest, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms.

There are many contemporary Ecuadorian writers, including the novelist Jorge Enrique Adoum; the poet Jorge Carrera Andrade; the essayist Benjamín Carrión; the poet Fanny Carrión de Fierro; the novelist Enrique Gil Gilbert; the novelist Jorge Icaza (author of the novel Huasipungo, translated to many languages); the short story author Pablo Palacio; the novelist Alicia Yanez Cossio; the prominent author and essayist, Juan Montalvo, and U.S.-based, half Ecuadorian poet Emanuel Xavier.

The best known art tendencies from Ecuador belonged to the Escuela Quiteña, which developed from the 16th to 18th centuries, examples of which are on display in various old churches in Quito. Ecuadorian painters include: Oswaldo Guayasamín, Camilo Egas and Eduardo Kingman from the Indiginist Movement; and Manuel Rendon, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Theo Constanté and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement. The indigenous people of Tigua, Ecuador are also world renowned for their tradicional paintings.

Ecuador's Olympic related administrative building.

The most popular sport in Ecuador, as in most South American countries, is football (soccer). Its best known professional teams include Barcelona and Emelec from Guayaquil, LDU Quito, Deportivo Quito, and El Nacional from Quito, Olmedo from Riobamba, and Deportivo Cuenca from Cuenca. The matches of the Ecuadorian national team are the most watched sporting events in the country. Ecuador qualified for the final rounds of both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. Ecuador finished ahead of Poland and Costa Rica to come in second to Germany in Group A in the 2006 World Cup. Futsal, often referred to as índor, is particularly popular for mass participation. There is considerable interest in tennis in the middle and upper classes in Ecuadorian society, and several Ecuadorian professional players have attained international fame. Basketball has a high profile, while Ecuador's specialties include Ecuavolley, a three-person variation of volleyball. Bullfighting is practiced at a professional level in Quito, during the annual festivities that commemorate the Spanish founding of the city, and also features in festivals in many smaller towns. Rugby union is found to some extent in Ecuador, with teams in Guayaquil,[25] Quito,[26] and Cuenca.

Popular music of Ecuador includes typical Andean music. Reggaeton is popular among young people.

Health and education

Ecuadorians have a life expectancy of 73 years.[27] The infant mortality rate is 13 per 1,000 live births,[27] a major improvement from approximately 76 in the early 1980s and 140 in 1950.[28] Twenty-three percent of children under five are chronically malnourished.[27] A significant part of the population has no access to clean water.[29] There are 686 malaria cases per 100,000 people.[29] Basic health care, including doctor's visits, basic surgeries, and basic medications, has been provided free since 2008.[27] However, many hospitals are in poor condition and often lack necessary supplies.[27] Often, waits to see doctors are extremely long.[27] Specialist visits are only available in Quito and Guayaquil.[27]

The Ecuadorian Constitution requires that all children attend school until they achieve a “basic level of education,” which is estimated at nine school years.[30] In 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 96.9 percent, and 71.8 percent of children stayed in school until the fifth grade.[30] The cost of primary and secondary education is borne by the government, but families often face significant additional expenses such as fees and transportation costs.[30] Provision of public schools falls far below the levels needed, and class sizes are often very large, and families of limited means often find it necessary to pay for education. In rural areas, only 10% of the children go on to high school. The Ministry of Education states that the mean number of years completed is 6.7. Ecuador has 61 universities, many of which offer graduate degrees. Only 87% of the faculty in public universities have master's degrees, and fewer than 1% have doctorates (i.e. PhD, EdD). About 300 institutes of higher education offer two to three years of post-secondary vocational or technical training.

A Puma helicopter from the Army's Aviation Branch


The Ecuadorian Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas del Ecuador), consisting of the Army, Air Force and Navy, have responsibility for the preservation of the integrity and national sovereignty of the national territory. Frequent border conflicts with its neighbors, guerilla insurgency from Colombia as well as internal problems involving crime, makes the Ecuadorian Armed Forces an essential part of the country's existence. In 2009 the new administration at the Defence Ministry launched a deep restructuring within the forces, increasing spending budget to $1,691,776,803 USD, an increase of 25%.(FY08) [31] In a List of countries by military expenditures (compared to the country's GDP) Equador is ranked 55.


  1. ^ a b CIA, World Factbook (Expand "people" tab)
  2. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). [_text_tables.pdf World Population Prospects, Table A.1]. 2008 revision. United Nations. _text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Ecuador". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Human Development Report 2009: Ecuador". The United Nations. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  5. ^ UNESCO
  6. ^ UNESCO
  7. ^ a b Conservation International Site
  8. ^ The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund: about the New Constitution 2008 Retrieved 2009-09-07
  9. ^
  10. ^ Embassy of Ecuador in Japan
  11. ^ Roos, Wilma and van Renterghem, Omer Ecuador, New York, 2000, p.5.
  12. ^ With less than four percent of the poll to be counted (364,000 votes), Correa's lead was more than 950,000 Bloomberg
  13. ^ Unesco World Heritage
  14. ^ Time Magazine Report
  15. ^ San Sebastian, M. and Hurtig, A.K. "Oil Exploitation in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador: A Public Health Emergency." Pan American Journal of Public Health 15(3), 2004.
  16. ^ Background Note: Ecuador. US Department of State
  17. ^
  18. ^ Correa Defaults on Ecuador Bonds, Seeks Restructuring (Update4) By Stephan Kueffner, Dec. 12 (Bloomberg). Retrieved Oct 21, 2009.
  19. ^ Comunidad Judía del Ecuador
  20. ^
  21. ^ Ecuador-LDS Newsroom Country Profile
  22. ^ Ecuador - City Population - Cities, Towns & Provinces
  23. ^ Etnicidad Ecuatoriana
  24. ^ Photos Indigenous people of Ecuador
  25. ^ Monos Rugby Club
  26. ^ Quito Rugby Football Club
  27. ^ a b c d e f g
  28. ^ Rex A. Hudson. "Labor". Ecuador: A country study (Dennis M. Hanratty, ed.). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (1989). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^ a b c "Ecuador". Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2001). Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  31. ^ A Comparative Atlas of Defence in Latin America / 2008 Edition

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

South America : Ecuador
Quick Facts
Capital Quito
Government Republic
Currency US dollar (USD)
Area total: 283,560 km2
water: 6,720 km2
land: 276,840 km2
Population 14,573,101 (July 2009 est.)
Language Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)
Religion Roman Catholic 95%
Electricity 110-220V/60Hz (USA & European plugs)
Calling Code +593
Internet TLD .ec
Time Zone UTC-5

Ecuador, [1], is a country in Northwestern South America, with a Pacific Ocean coastline, lying on the Equator between Colombia, to the northeast, and Peru, to the south and east.

Cotopaxi is the world's highest active volcano. Many cities and sites are integrated in the prestige Unesco World Heritage Sites. Such cities and best known places are the Galapagos Islands, and the city of Cuenca.

  • Quito - Second highest capital of the world with a well preserved colonial center
  • Baños- The adventure capital of Ecuador at the foot of an active volcano having small eruptions of ash and lava. Volcano Tungurahua. There are also many hot spring mineral baths as its name would imply.
  • Cuenca - The third largest city in Ecuador and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site
  • Guayaquil - Largest city in the country and largest port city
  • Loja - The oldest colonial city
  • Otavalo - Small town only two hours north of the capital famous for its Saturday market of indigenous crafts and livestock
  • Riobamba - Starting point of the famous train ride down the Nariz del Diablo and gateway to Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak
Map of Ecuador
Map of Ecuador
  • Canoa - Small Beach Town
  • Esmeraldas - One of the most popular beaches in Ecuador.
  • Mindo - Excellent bird watching in a cloud forest setting.
  • Puyo - Jungle town
  • Salinas - Beautiful beaches, and great little ocean-front restaurants
  • Tena - Jungle town


The "Republic of the Ecuador" was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Venezuela). Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors. A border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999.

Radio and Television

Radio and/or television is available in Spanish except in some of the particularly remote areas. English-language movies usually are shown in the original language with Spanish subtitles. Many hotels have cable television that may include English-language stations and/or premium movie channels that feature subtitled movies in their original languages.

Newspapers and Magazines

Spanish-language newspapers and magazines can be purchased on the streets of cities but can be hard to find elsewhere. Some hotels catering to foreigners may have a small selection of English-language reading material.


Ecuador adopted the United States dollar (USD) as its currency in 2000.


Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands

Get in

By express provision of the Lord President of the Republic, from Friday June 20, 2008, citizens of any nationality may enter Ecuador without a visa and stay for a period of ninety days, principle of free movement of persons and to strengthen relations between Ecuador and all countries of the world, and promote tourism, however, Colombian citizens must present their valid passport in addition to the last court order to enter Ecuador. Chinese citizens need to approach the consulate for incorporation of a stamp in the passport before entry to Ecuador [2]

By plane

Quito's airport has an executive lounge shared by all the airlines with drinks, snacks, and seating areas. The view is not of the airplanes and runway, but there is a view of the airport entrance and the surrounding mountains. Business class travelers get a free invitation.

Another port of entry is Guayaquil, which has a modern airport that includes the typical amenities such as restaurants and duty-free shopping. The airport is located north from downtown.

The Galapagos Islands are one of the Ecuadorian provinces and have two airports, one of which is on Baltra and the other is on San Cristobal. Aerogal is the name of the airline which flies to Galapagos. All the flights are through the mainland

The Quito airport charges an international departure tax of $40.80. The tax is $26 from Guayaquil. This tax usually is not included in the cost of the flight.

By train

There are no international train services into Ecuador.

By car

Driving into Ecuador is discouraged. It is preferable to enter the country by airplane or boat because of the frontier issues with neighboring countries.

By bus

To/from Colombia

The only crossing between Ecuador and Colombia is at Rumichaca near Tulcan and Ipiales.

To/from Peru

There are several places to cross the border with Peru, though Huaquillas (near Machala gets the vast majority of the tourist crossings. Macara and La Balsa (near Zumba) are the other options.

By boat

Since Ecuador is situated at the coast and has some very large rivers, a boat ride can be a nice way to get around. Especially in the rainforest a boat ride can get you to places you usually wouldn't be able to go.

Get around

The best way to discover the wonders of the four regions of Ecuador is thru a Tour Operator.

By bus

Intercity buses travel to almost everywhere in Ecuador. Many cities have a central bus terminal, known as the terminal terrestre, where it is possible to buy tickets from the various bus lines that serve the city. Long-distance buses typically cost from $1 to $2 per hour, depending on the distance and the type of service; groups may be able to negotiate discounts. Buses are frequent along major routes. Reservations or advance purchases usually aren't needed except during peak periods such as holidays. The bathroom on the bus, if any, is usually reserved for women. However, it is permissible for men to request that the bus make a stop so that they might relieve themselves. The bus rides themselves are often quite beautiful, through mountain views in the clouds. These altitude changes cause many of the same ear pressure problems which are associated with an airplane ride.

The bus driver will stop along the way to board additional passengers. Many buses arrive at their destination with passengers standing in the aisle. There are a few first class buses, called "Ejecutivo", which cost a little more than the regular busses. They are generally more comfortable and safer.

By taxi

Taxis are widely available. Taxis are generally yellow and have the taxi license number prominently displayed. Taxis in Quito have meters (fares under $1 are rounded up to the minimum fare of $1). Agree upon a price before getting in or ask the driver to use the meter (often cheaper than a negotiated rate); short trips generally don't cost more than $1 or $2, and you generally shouldn't end up paying more than $10 per hour, if that, for longer trips. Evening rates are often double. As with any country in Latin America, (or the world for that matter), don't ride an unlicensed taxi. It's a great way to get kidnapped.

By hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is possible in Ecuador. A lot of people drive pick-ups which you can easily throw your backpack into if they give you a lift to america.

On roads not frequently serviced by buses, cargo trucks may take on riders or hitchhikers, either to ride in back or in the cabin. In some cases the driver charges the going bus fare, in others he may simply be taking on a rider for the company and refuse a fare.


Spanish is the official language. Amerindian languages (especially Quichua) are generally spoken in the more rural, mountainous villages. English is widely spoken in hotels, restaurants and other businesses that cater to high-end travelers. Ecuadorians are friendly and generally tolerant of foreigners who attempt to speak Spanish but make mistakes.


Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency. Other types of currency are not readily accepted.

U.S. paper money is used for most transactions. Ecuador has its own coins, which are exactly the same size and weight as U.S. coins up through 50-cent pieces; both they and U.S. coins are used. U.S. Sacagawea dollar coins are also widely used, more so than in the U.S. Susan B. Anthony dollars, however, are not generally accepted. Many merchants examine large bills ($10 and above) carefully to make sure they aren't counterfeit. Outside of tourist areas and Quito, many merchants do not keep large amounts of money on hand, so getting change for large bills (or even small ones) may be difficult or impossible. This is especially true on cheaper buses. Take lots of one and five dollar bills with you; you will also want to bring the newest possible bills. Worn bills are often regarded with suspicion, and it is not uncommon for a merchant to ask you to pay with another bill if the one you handed them appears old or worn.

Travelers' checks can be exchanged at some (but not all) banks for a reasonable fee (usually not more than 3 percent). They are also accepted at some hotels that cater to tourists, although it is difficult to use them elsewhere. There is often a surcharge added to use traveler's checks.

Credit and debit cards are accepted at many places that cater to tourists as well as at some upscale shops. However, many places charge a commission for their use as reimbursement for what the banks charge them. You may be asked to show your passport when using a credit or debit card.

Automated teller machines are widely available in major cities and tourist areas. Most claim to be tied in with major international networks, in theory making it possible to withdraw money from foreign accounts. Depending on the transaction fees charged by your bank at home, ATMs offer very good exchange rates. Be aware that you may have to try quite a few different machines before receiving money. TIP: Banco Austro is the only national bank chain that doesn't charge a withdrawal fee. The others have learned a cue from the States, and typically charge $1 or more per transaction. Avoid using ATMs on the street as their users are frequently targeted by street thieves. Hotels or other places with a guard nearby are your best choices.

Prices vary widely in Ecuador. Costs at upscale hotels and restaurants seem to be close, maybe 10 percent less, to what they would be in the United States. Outside of tourist areas, costs are much less. It is possible to get a meal at a clean restaurant for under $2 or to pay less than $10 for a clean but basic hotel room.

Even though Ecuador is a very beautiful country it does not know how to sell itself very well. In Quito a very famous touristic site is El Mercado Artesenal where many souvenirs can be found but after a thorough look around you will realize that there is a bit of redundancy in the items in the sense that everyone is basically selling the same thing so after buying a few main items it becomes difficult to find much more variety. Almost everything that can be bought has a price that can be bargained and if you are not a native, they will try and get higher prices out of you which is why it is recommended to go with someone who is either fluent in Spanish or native, to bargain more effectively.


Throughout the country there is a lot of variety as to what is typically eaten, depending on the location. In the Sierra, rice almost always accompanies lunch and dinner, and in the coast potatoes are popular. Soup is also a big part of lunch and dinner. Breakfasts often consist of toast, eggs and juice or fruit. Batidos, or fruit shakes, are popular breakfast items or snacks.

Restaurants run the gamut in terms of menu, quality, hygiene, hours and price. Basic meals can be had for less than $2, or it is possible to pay close to U.S. prices in the tourist areas, especially for food from the American chains.

If you're on a budget, your best bet for a good and local meal is to order an almuerzo (lunch) or a merienda (dinner). These normally consist of a soup, a meat main course and a dessert for $1-$2.

More expensive restaurants (say, ones that charge $4 per meal or more) often add a 12% sales tax and a 10% service fee.

Coffee or tea (including many herbal varieties) is typically served after the meal unless you ask for it sooner.

Except at places that cater to foreigners, it is the custom not to present the diner with the bill until it is requested. While many servers are used to rude tourists, rubbing your fingers together isn't as accepted as in Europe although it's not considered downright rude as in the United States. The best way to get the check is to tell your server "La Cuenta, Por Favor."

Smoking is allowed in most restaurants, but the lay explicit prohibit smoking in closed areas, so it's a good idea to ask for a smoking section, or ask if the restaurant allows smoking.

Locro de papa is a famous Ecuadorian soup with avocados, potatoes and cheese.

Ceviche is a common dish found on the coast. It is a cold seafood cocktail that is usually served with "chifles," thin fried plantains, and popcorn.

Encebollado is a hearty fish soup with yuca, also found on the coast: A tomato-fish soup filled with chunks of yucca, marinated vegetables with "chifles" thrown in for added crunch.

In the Highlands, Ecuadorians eat cuy, or guinea pig. The entire animal is roasted or fried and often served skewered on a stick.

Empanadas are also a common local food that are usually consumed as snacks in the afternoon. The most common varieties of this filled pastry are cheese and/or chicken.


Bottled water is very common and is safe to drink; it comes con gas (carbonated) and sin gas (non-carbonated).

Coffee is widely available in cafes and restaurants, and also sold in bean form. Tea is also common, usually with a good selection including herbal.

Fruit juice is plentiful and good, and you will often have many options: piña (pineapple), mora (blackberry), maracuya (passion fruit), naranja (orange), sandia (watermelon), naranjilla (a jungle fruit), melon, taxo, guanabana, guava, etc. If you'd like it as a milkshake, ask for a batida. Note that often juices are served lukewarm.

Aguardiente, often made from fermented sugar cane, is the local firewater. If possible, have some ground freshly into your cup from the sugarcane.


There are many low-cost hostels that can be found throughout Ecuador. Oftentimes the hostels in smaller towns are actually privately owned homes that welcome travellers. As with most things, natives can help you find an excellent hotel at a very low price ($6-14). Again, large groups will be able to bargain for lower prices. Air conditioning is an amenity which often comes at an extra cost of a dollar or two a night.


Ecuador has so many attractions. The capital Quito, is a city with a lot of history where you can walk in downtown, enjoying of the beautiful colonial buildings. There is also the "Teleférico" (cable-car) which takes passengers from the highest mountain in Quito to see the whole city from the sky. Regular admission is $4 per person or you can pay $7 for an express ticket that bypasses the line. There are many welcoming cafes as well as many dancing clubs open every weekend, often until 5AM. The beaches in Ecuador are great, the weather is just perfect and the food is delicious and unique. One can eat a lobster for $15 and stay in a hotel for $10.

In Guayaquil, an excellent place to visit is the Malecón 2000, which is very similar to Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, offering food, shopping, boat rides and a beautiful view of the river. Except for electronics, prices are quite low; however, almost everything sold with any sort of brand name is a knockoff. This area is very well patrolled and quite safe. For a real adventure, it is possible to visit the more authentic, less expensive, and far more dangerous Bahía or "Informal Market". It is not advisable to visit it without a native. It is possible to purchase a knockoff of almost anything here. Pirated video games and movies also abound; it is possible to purchase game systems modified to play such games as well. Make the proprietors prove to you that any movies or games you might purchase actually work before buying though. In the Bahía, it is necessary to haggle for all items.

Baños is the perfect city for the outdoors or extreme sports enthusiast, offering rafting, mountain climbing and backpacking excursions of all sorts. It is possible to get an English speaking guide. Be sure to get all the necessary vaccinations, as it is possible to get some nasty infections from prolonged exposure to the water. Baños also offers a public hot spring mineral bath, which only charges $1 admission. Other, more expensive baths also exist, but are fed from the exact same water. It is best to arrive at these baths as they open, as the water is freshest and cleanest then.

Ibarra -and the whole Imbabura province- is a very recomended destination. Very close to Quito (about a 90mins ride), it offers many touristic activities such as comunity tourism, adventure tours (rafting, swing jumping, kayaking, trekking, etc) and indigenous visits. The most recommended places in Imbabura to visit are: Ibarra, Otavalo, Intag and Cotacachi

Many tourist don't take the time to visit the northern part of the country. The north of Ecuador offers the best beaches, Bahia de Caraquez, Manta, Crucita, San Jacinto, San Clemente are just a few. They offer very inexpensive hotel accommodations, great food and even warmer people. In the coast it is no surprise that travellers find a more relaxed place, where the people only are welcoming. Manabi is a providence that you MUST visit.

Ecuador is perhaps the most bio-diverse country in the world, so don't miss the chance to see some of the wildlife. The Galapagos Islands are justly famed for their wildlife, but there is also lots to see on the mainland. Ecuador has over one hundred different types of hummingbird - good places to see them include Cuyabeno Wild Life Reserve, Mindo and San Luis de Pambil.

Montañita Town In the coast, 3 hours from Guayaquil, This is a growing town with many particularies which makes it great to visit: Goog Beach and incredible surroundings, the people, incredible nightlife, and surf. There are many people who live in the town permanently from all over the world.


One way to work on your Spanish skills is to go to a movie. Films in modern theaters cost about $3 to $4 in the larger cities, less in smaller towns. Foreign films are typically shown in the original language with subtitles - but not always, so ask first.


Spanish Classes

Quito is a great place to learn Spanish. Quite a few private Spanish academies exist. Quality varies greatly, so check reviews online. Two Ecuadorian universities, described below, offer semester length Spanish as a Second Language classes for foreigners. These are ideal if you are serious about learning Spanish and have the time to complete the full program. Successful completion of a university Spanish program may also allow to continue studying at that university or even to earn a degree. On the other hand, if you wish to learn Spanish while enjoying being on the beach, then Montañita is the best place to learn.

Language programs in Ecuador include:

  • Academia Surpacifico in Manta and Quito [3]
  • Ecuador Spanish Schools [4]
  • LSE - Learn Spanish in Ecuador [5]
  • Surf and Spanish School [6]
  • Vida Verde - Learn Spanish in Quito [7]

Formal University Study

While all universities in Ecuador can theoretically admit foreign students, most have onerous entry requirements and will not admit students for just a semester or two. Two universities -- Universidad San Francisco and Catholic University -- stand out for extending a welcome to foreign students, who can choose to study for a semester or even complete a full Bachiler's or Master's degree. Be sure to inquire about enrollment (matricula) costs which are usually above and beyond normal tuition. Obtain a student visa, if needed, before you enter Ecuador to study.

  • Catholic University of Ecuador [8]
  • Universidad San Francisco de Quito [9]
  • Universidad Israel
  • Universidad Politécnica Nacional
  • Universidad Central del Ecuador

Service Learning / Volunteer Work

An excellent way to get to know and understand more of the country is to do some voluntary work. There are several organizations that arrange work for international volunteers in Ecuador and other countries in the region.

  • Travel to Teach [10]
  • Moving Ecuador [11]
  • Ecuador Volunteer Foundation [12]
  • New Horizons Volunteer Program [13]
  • International Student Volunteers Ecuador [14]
  • Simon Bolivar Volunteer Programs [15]

Stay safe

Tourists should use common sense to ensure their safety. Most tourists who avoid flashing large amounts of money, visiting areas near the Colombian border, civil disturbances, side streets in big cities at night and that sort of thing report few problems. Probably the biggest threat in most places is simple thievery: Belongings should not be left unguarded on the beach, for example, and pickpockets can be found in some of the more crowded areas, especially the Trolébus (Metro) in Quito, in bus terminals and on the buses themselves. Buses allow peddlers to board briefly and attempt to sell their wares; however, they are often thieves themselves, so keep a close eye out for them. Hotel personnel are generally good sources of information about places that should be avoided.

You can always ask tourist police officers, police officers or in Tourist information center for the dangerous regions.

Ecuador offers great opportunities for hiking and climbing, unfortunately, some travelers have been attacked and robbed in remote sections of well known climbs - several rapes have also been reported so female hikers/climbers need to be extremely careful. Travelers are urged to avoid solo hikes and to go in a large group for safety reasons.

Stay healthy

Ecuador is widely considered to be a developing country and health hazards are a significant issue. Of the most significant are foodborne illnesses, though they can easily be treated with digestive drugs such as antacids or antidiarrheals.

Bottled water is the key in Ecuador if you don't want to get sick. This doesn't only apply to foreigners who don't have the stomach for Ecuadorian food but also Ecuadorians who know that if they don't boil their water or drink it from the bottle that they can get very sick. As a result, it can be purchased almost everywhere (even in the most remote places) for well under $.25-.50. Water bottles are sometimes provided by hostels and hotels, which can be used for brushing teeth.

It is advisable to receive a typhoid vaccination, and possibly a yellow fever vaccination, depending on your specific area of travel.

Outside the major cities and tourist areas, malaria can be a problem along the coast during the rainy season.


Among many other cultural idiosyncrasies, in the Sierra regions it is considered impolite to use a downward-facing palm as a reference for the height of a person. Instead, the hand is held on its side, and the measurement taken from the lower edge to the floor. Gesturing with the palm down is appropriate for animals only. When motioning for someone to "come here," it is impolite to motion your hand with the palm facing up. Instead, use a downward swipe of the hand with the palm facing down.

Acceptable clothing varies by region of the country. In the mountainous Sierra region, including Quito, clothes are usually more warm because of the weather. On the coast, meanwhile, more casual clothes predominate.


Internet cafes can be found nearly everywhere in the major cities and in many of the smaller ones. Cost is from $1 to $2 per hour in the large cities, and the better places have high-speed access. In some cafes, restaurants, and hotels you can find free wifi access, most of them protected by passwords; in most cases, you just have to ask for the password.


For most visitors, the easiest place to make phone calls is an Internet cafe, most of which provide VOIP service at reasonable rates. You can call the United States for about $0.10 per minute and Europe for a bit more. Avoid making a phone call through an operator; the cost cost for an international call can be $3 or more per minute. For calls within Ecuador, it is possible to use a telephone cabin. This is an entire storefront filled with telephones. Generally, you are assigned a booth by the proprietor, you make your call, then you pay as you leave. Calls within Ecuador are more expensive than domestic calls in most countries, but not unreasonable, except for calls to cell phones, which generate most of their revenue by charging the caller. Also, call prices increase depending on the distance of your call within Ecuador, based on city, province, etc. Visitors making an extended stay should consider purchasing a cell phone. Most are sold on a prepaid-call basis, and phone refill cards can be purchased in all but the smallest towns. It is also possible to get a modern GSM cellular phone "unlocked" so that it will function in Ecuador (you can take your own phone, if it compatible with GSM 850MHz), however, this should be reserved for emergencies as the cost of actually making such a call is usually exorbitant (about $0,45 per minute).

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also ecuador



Wikipedia has an article on:


The location of Ecuador

Proper noun




  1. A country in South America. Official name: Republic of Ecuador.

Related terms


See also



Proper noun

Ecuador n.

  1. Ecuador


Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun


  1. Ecuador



German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Ecuador n.

  1. Ecuador

Derived terms


Italian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Ecuador m.

  1. Ecuador

Derived terms


Proper noun


  1. Ecuador

Related terms



ecuador "equator"


Proper noun

Ecuador m.

  1. Ecuador


Proper noun


  1. Ecuador


Proper noun

Ecuador [1]

  1. Ecuador


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


An independent state of South America, bounded on the north by Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the south by Peru, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The northwest corner of the state is crossed by the equator, hence its name.

No part of America has been so prominent for scientific explorations, specially geographic and physiographic, carried out on a large scale in the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century. One, sent out in 1735 by the French Government for the purpose of measuring the meridian near the equator, recalls the names of La Condamine and Bouguer. The other (1790-1804) forever associates Alexander von Humboldt with the history of the New World.



Ecuador is the third smallest of the South American republics. It forms, approximately, an isosceles triangle wedged in between Colombia and Peru. Indenting the southwest coast is the Gulf of Guayaquil within which lies the large island of Puná. As in the case of other South American republics, the boundaries of Ecuador are ill-defined and subject to modification by treaty. Its area is variously given as from 80,300 to 152,000 sq. miles, to which must be added the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, lying about 90°-92° west long., 10 degrees off the coast, and covering from 2490 to 3000 sq. miles. These islands are about ten in number, only one of which (Isabella or Albemarie) is inhabited by some two hundred people.

The eastern half of Ecuador is low, wooded, and traversed by many rivers emptying into the Marañon or Upper Amazon; the western is very mountainous, the high Andes chain dividing the two sections. The mountain chain runs nearly due south from the southern boundary of Colombia to the Peruvian frontier. It has a number of high peaks, all of volcanic origin, among them Chimborazo (20, 500 ft.) and many volcanoes. Of the latter, Cotopaxi (19,613 ft.), Tunguragua (16,690 ft.) and Sangai (17,454 ft.) are still active; Antisana (19,335 ft.); Pichincha (15,918 ft.), etc. have been extinct for a century or more, while Altar, Cotocachi, etc., show traces only of activity in ages long past.

The Ecuadorian table-land and higher mountain valleys are temperate, though the temperature is low in the greater altitudes. The year is divided into the dry and the wet season. Under the Equator, however, there is little difference between the seasons. The coast valleys and shores are very hot, and the climate generally unhealthful.

Ecuador has but one navigable river, the Guayas, which empties into the Gulf of Guayaquil. The other streams of Western Ecuador are of little importance. The flora is luxuriant except in high altitudes. Both lower slopes of the Andes are densely wooded. On the coast there is an arid zone of limited extent; the larger portion, however, is very fertile as far as the Peruvian boundary at Tumbez. The inland forests in the south are rich in Chicona bark, and extend easterly to a height of nearly 10,000 feet. Then follows a sub-Andean zone for the next 3500 feet, in which cereals thrive in an average temperature of from 53° to 59° Fahr. This is followed by what are called the páramos, cold and stormy wastes, treeless and exposed to daily snows, which reach an altitude of 15,000 feet above sea level, and where the tough puna-grass flourishes. On the eastern slope of the Andes dense forests are found again and the cinnamon tree. Animal life is tropical and found in proportion to the vegetation.

As far as known, Ecuador is fairly rich in minerals. It is the only South American state, with the exception of Colombia, where emeralds have been found in any quantity (near the coast at Manta and Esmeraldas); their location, however, is uncertain.

The population is estimated at 1,272,000, of whom about 20,000 are supposed to be Indians. Exact statistics, however, do not exist. Of the 400,000, one-half is allowed to the wild forest-tribes of the eastern section and the other half to the remnants of the diverse sedentary tribes which formerly occupied the table-land and coast. The whole country is divided into fifteen provinces besides the Eastern territory and the Galapagos Islands.


Of the pre-Columbian conditions and languages of the Indians of Ecuador little is known. The coast tribes have almost disappeared, and those of the higher regions have adopted Spanish customs. That they differed from the Peruvian Quicha seems likely. The best known were the Cañaris, the Carangas, and the Puruaes or Puruays; a tribe known as the Scyri is mentioned in the neighbourhood of Quito. They were all sedentary; knew how to work gold, silver, copper, and possibly bronze; and practiced the fetishism common to primitive Americans. The coast tribe built their houses of wood and cane while those of the interior used stone. They were skillful navigators, some of their vessels being estimated at thirty tons, and propelled by oars and cotton sails.

The Spaniards, led by Francisco Pizarro, first saw the coast of Ecuador in 1525. From Tacamez, or Atacames, where they touched, Pizarro dispatched Ruiz, his pilot, to the south. In the account of Pizarro we have the earliest description of the Ecuadorian coast and people. He sailed south beyond the present limits of Peru, verifying his pilot's reports, and in 1528 returned to Spain to prepare for the conquest of Peru. He returned in 1531, landed at Coaque, and, marching south along the shore, established himself, despite the hostility of the natives, on the island of Puná. The permanent Spanish occupation of Ecuador, however, began in 1534, from Piura to Peru under Sebastian de Belalcazar. He had a tedious campaign to Quito, in which he was assisted by Cañaris. In 1534, three towns were established; San Francisco de Quito (15 August) at Riobamba, thirteen days later transferred to its present site, Chimbo; and Guayaquil, also originally founded at a place distinct from the one it now occupies. Meanwhile Pedro de Alvarado had landed on the coast with a considerable force from Guatemala. Reaching the central plateau, he was confronted by Belalcazar and Diego de Almagro the elder. An amicable agreement was reached, and Gonzalo Pizarro pushed into the cinnamon country, but made little headway and had to turn back. His lieutenant, Orellana, however, floated down the Amazon, and landed on the Isle of Trinidad, whence he carries to Spain the first information about southeastern Ecuador.

The second epoch of civil wars in Peru, the uprising of Gonzalo Pizarro against the viceroy Nuñez de la Vela, came to an end with the defeat and death of the viceroy near Quito, 16 Jan., 1546. Quito became the headquarters of the Crown's representative, and with this as a basis, the independence movement was put down. During the colonial period the Church founded institutions of learning such as the University of Quito and established a printing press at the same place in 1760. Political disturbances were few, but during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries volcanic and seismic phenomena were frequent and often disastrous. An attempt was made in 1809 to overthrow the Spanish power, and Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, together with the rest of Spanish South America, then engaged in efforts toward independence. In 1820 Guayaquil succeeded in throwing off Spanish control, and the battle of Pichincha (22 May, 1822) finally put an end to the domination of the mother country. Ecuador, with Colombia and Venezuela, next formed an independent confederacy until 1830, when the union was dissolved and the first Ecuadorian congress met. Since then Ecuador has been toward by internal dissensions and foreign complications, chiefly with Colombia. The opposing political parties are the Conservatives, or Clericals, and the Liberals. Since 1893 the latter have been in power and have to a great extent adopted a policy of secularization in church matters. From 1833 to 1908 Ecuador has had nineteen presidents.


Ecuador is a constitutional republic. From 1830 to 1883 it had no less than ten constitutions; the last was adopted in 1897. The executive head is the president, elected with the vice-president directly by the people for a term of four years. The senators (30) and the deputies (41) are also elected by direct vote, the former for four, the latter for two years. Congress meets biennially at Quito, the capital, on 10 August, and is in session for sixty days. The principal cities are: Quito (80,000); Guayaquil (51,000); Cuenca (30,000); Riobamba (18,000), and five of ten thousand or more inhabitants. Guayaquil is the chief seaport. In 1904 Ecuador had 168 miles of railroad and 2565 miles of telegraph, both of which have since been added to. The monetary unit is the sucre, about equal to the peso of other Spanish-American countries, but subject to fluctuation in value. The chief exports are cacao, vegetable ivory, india-rubber, and straw hats.

Educational statistics are scanty. There is a university at Quito with thirty-two professors and two hundred and sixteen students (1905). Institutions of higher education are found at Guayaquil and Cuenca. The number of secondary schools is 35; primary schools 1088 with 1498 teachers and 68,380 pupils; and 9 high schools and colleges.


Soon after the discovery of the country missionaries began their labour in Ecuador and in 1545 the Bishopric of Quito was erected. Work among the different Indian tribes on the tributaries of the Amazon was difficult, and the Dominican missions were destroyed in 1599 by the savage [[J�baro Indians (Catholic Encyclopedia)|Jivaros]]. Later, however, the Dominicans re-established themselves and were assisted by the Jesuits who had been in Quito since 1596. By the close of the seventeenth century Ecuador was well-evangelized, but after the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, who on the Napo alone had thirty-three missions with 100,000 inhabitants, the Dominicans were unable to keep up the work and the natives fell back into paganism. The revolution destroyed all traces of two hundred years of untiring labour. Since 1848 Ecuador has formed an ecclesiastical province. The population is Catholic except for a small number of foreigners and a few pagan Indians in the East.

Up to 1861 the government was in the hands of the Liberal and largely anti-Catholic party. When [[Garc�a Moreno, Gabriel (Catholic Encyclopedia)|Garcia Moreno]] was elected president (1861-65 and 1869-75), however, he reorganized civil and religious affairs. Under him a Concordat (20 November, 1863) was concluded with Rome, new dioceses were erected, schools and missions given to the Jesuits (who had been recalled), and others, and in 1864, at the time of the spolation of the Holy See, ten percent of the state's income was guaranteed to the pope. [[Garc�a Moreno, Gabriel (Catholic Encyclopedia)|Moreno]] was murdered 6 Aug., 1875, and his death not only put an end to the concordat, but under the new regime which succeeded him a series of persecutions occurred. In 1885, when Bishop Schumacher took charge, nearly all the native clergy were suspended and replaced by Europeans and practically a new hierarchy established. The religious and moral education of the people was likewise in bad condition. The revolution of Alfaro in 1895 was a severe blow to the Church. The orders, among them the Capuchins, Salesians, Missionaries of Steyl, and the various sisterhoods, were all banished and Bishop Schumacher obliged to flee.

The State religion is the Catholic, but other creeds are not interfered with. Since tithes were abolished the State has provided for the maintenance of Catholic worship; it also supports religious educational institutions, such as the three seminaries at Quito and six elsewhere, one in each of the six dioceses. Civil marriage was recognized in 1902, and two years later the Church and its property were placed under State control. At the same time it was enacted that no new or foreign religious order would be permitted in the country. Suffragan to Quito, which became an archbishopric in 1848, are: Cuenca (1786), Guayaquil (1837), Ibarra (1862), Loja (1866), Puerto Viejo, or Porto Viejo (1871), Riobamba (1863). There are also four vicariates Apostolic subject to the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs: Canelos and Macas, [[M�ndez and Gualaquiza (Catholic Encyclopedia)|Mendez and Gualaquizza]], Napo, Zamora.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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