Guide to Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands
ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS
named for its position on the equator, is the smallest country of South America with 256.370 sq km after Uruguay and the
Guianas. (Roughly the size of the US State of Colorado)|
Local Time.- Ecuador continental territory is on Eastern
Standard Time (GMT –5). The Galapagos Islands are on Central Standard (GMT –6). There is no Daylight Savings
country of Ecuador has 24 provinces, 11 spreading out from the highlands, 6 in the Amazon region, a further 6 in the coastal
areas and the Galapagos islands. |
Within these 24 provinces the country is divided up into 3 distinct regions which are straddled with the Andes Mountain range, the backbone of Ecuador that traverses the country from north to south as well as dividing it into the western coastal
lowlands, the Sierra or Highlands, the Oriente or Amazon (eastern jungles of the higher Amazon) and the Archipelago of Galapagos forming the fourth region respectively. The Pacific coastline of the Western lowlands
is situated between the pacific ocean and the Andean mountain range and extends some 300 miles beginning in Esmeraldas spreading
all the way down to El Oro. The latter province along with Manabi and Los Rios provinces are the major farmed areas due to
their rich agricultural lands while other areas have been the home to many fishing villages spanning the entire coastline.
The rest of the coastal areas have various marshes, mangrove forests, tourist resorts along with beautiful beaches as well
as major ports for exporting and importing produce.
The major beach resorts in the southern central area worth
visiting are Salinas the jewel of the coastline, Montañita (famous
for surfing), Manta, Bahía de
Caráquez, Puerto Bolivar and Puerto
López, many of the beaches are sandy and Palm fringed as well as having all year round warm waters for swimming
in comparison to other countries such as Peru and Chile who's waters are much cooler depending on the time of year.
to the north lies the Province of Esmeraldas, which is much hotter, humid,
wetter and is home to a large afro-Ecuadorian culture and from their food to the dancing festivals along with their bamboo
more rustic accommodations, the ambiance is unique within the coastal lowlands and well worth a visit.
the Sierra (highlands) as well as being a bio-natural diverse region of untamable
volcanoes, thermal baths emanating from the former, wild animals (many endemic), serene wild landscapes, cloud forests and
Paramo highlands all combined makes for excellent sightseeing, hiking, trekking, camping as well as guided day trips arranged
from the architecturally delightful capital of the country, Quito along
with its two distinct cities of colonial and modern construction.
The Oriente in
comparison, offers great jungle towns along with combinations of eco-ethno tourism with the option of staying with the local
indigenous cultures along with guided tours allowing you to view the heart of Amazon culture, customs, sport excursions such
as white river rafting, cycling down spectacular scenery and the wildest nature of bio-diversity of animal, bird and plant
life known to man.
Finally, the Galapagos islands offers the
traveler the ultimate in tranquility and remoteness and along with its great climate and un-daunting, fearless human interaction
of the animals and mammals who roam the islands making a once in a life time experience in these timeless lands which is
a must during your visit.
You can also swim with playful dolphins and often will be joined by the penguins while
for divers the ocean's marine world is the pearl of all oceans for viewing many endemic and exotic species. The tour options
offering all classes of boat tours throughout the islands is also very appealing for many travellers whom get to visit many
islands dotted throughout the Archipelago some with active volcanoes and running lava making your trip complete.
name: Republic of Ecuador|
Type of government: Democracy, Presidential Republic.
24, 1822. From Spain.
Capital City: Quito.
Main cities: Guayaquil, Quito,
Currency: US Dollars.
Languages: Spanish (official)
and other native languages such as: Quechua (Incas' language) and Shuar. English is the most spoken
foreigner language amongst tourist providers and professionals.
Religion: 95% Roman Catholic.
population is approximately 13,600,000 million (since the last census). Its population has the highest density compared with
any other South American countries (50 inhabitants per square kilometer).|
(mixed Indigenous and Spanish): 50%
Several indigenous groups including the Achuar, Awa, Epera, Huaorani, Chachi, Cofán, Negro afroecuatoriano, Quichua
(highlands), Otavaleño, Quichua (Amazon), Salasacas,Shuar,Siona, Tsachilla, Záparo, Saraguro and Secoya, amongst
located on the northwestern coast of South America. It comprises the continental territory between coordinates of latitude
01 27’ 06’’ N and 05 00’
56’’ S and longitude 75 11’ 49’’ W to 81 00’ 40’’ W, that covers approximately
104,550 square miles -270,670 km2- plus the Galapagos Islands (1,000 km. off the coast of Ecuador).
territory borders Peru to the south and the east (approx. 1,420 km), Colombia to the north (590 km.) and the
Pacific Ocean to the west (2,237 km. of coastline).
point: Pacific Ocean, 0 meters
Highest point: Chimborazo Volcano, 6,300 meters.
resources: Fish, timber, oil and mining.
Arable land: 6%
Permanent pastures: 18%
Forests and woodlands: 56%
Ecuadorian climate has two main seasons with a wet followed by a dry season as well as varying weather patterns which are
affected by the dramatically differing geographical boundaries, as a general rule it is far cooler in the sierra highlands
and more tropical with humid, wetter climates in the Oriente, Amazon and Coastal areas.
Due to a combination
of the dry deserts of Peru in the south and the torrential heavier downpours of the north pacific from Colombia the climate
is sandwiched between these two natural fronts, however in addition the country also receives cooler waters of the Humbolt
currents which flow from Chile into Ecuador's warmer equatorial waters which in effect divides the coast line up further
into two main climates. The result of the former fronts means in effect that the rain levels are less the further south you
venture down the coastline from Guayaquil. This latter current occurs during
May-December producing less rain but more damp, overcast days although in contrast the northwest sections of the pacific
such as Esmeraldas and Manabi provinces which receive torrential rainfall as the current is turned west. The only exception
to the rule on southerly and northerly rainfall patterns is when the El Niño effect comes into play which can lead to
torrential storms and flooding also in the South as huge amounts of water are scooped from the ocean and thrown onshore disrupting
services and agricultural production as happened during the 1990's.
The Sierra (Andes)
with its Paramo highlands soaks up the rainfall with its spongy terrain distributing much of the water to the local sierra
inhabitants. As a result of the volcanoes and high Andes mountain peaks of the sierra varying mini-climates result for example,
the valleys and hollows of the Andes are baking in heat during the day but are much cooler in the evenings with rainfall
at its highest during October to May. In contrast the southerly areas of Loja and Vilcabamba towards the Peruvian frontier
and although contained within the Andes range enjoy more ambient temperatures ranging between 18-24ºC all year round.
the eastern foothills of the Andes mountain range lies the Amazon deep tropical
rain forests who's rivers are fed and previously formed through the melting snow from the volcanoes populating the area.
The vegetation along with the animal and bird life contained in this region are rich in both numbers and species. In addition
the rainfall is consistently heavy all year round especially May-December although the humidity levels and heat is omnipresent
throughout the year.
There are two main climatic seasons on Galapagos,
the hot season from December to May which sees increased sea temperatures and occasional heavy rain fall, worst around January
to February, off peak season and the cooler season June to November with more cloud form and misty patches leading to lighter
rains, After June however, trade winds can be significant affecting ocean temperatures which can dip to as low as 15ºC
although with exception to the 2 months pre-mentioned the islands are favorable to visit for most of the year due to their
The waters of the Archipelago are also affected by southeasterly Pacific cooler waters
which move towards the west and the equator and between July-September the recorded temperatures can fall down to 16ºC
which can form cloud coverage around the islands as well as lowering the air temperatures.
migration rate: 0.50 migrant(s) per 1,000.
Infant mortality rate: 34.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.
fertility rate: 2.60 children born per woman.
Literacy: Over 15
years old (Male: 91%; female: 88.5%).
Child malnutrition (% of children under 5): 40%.
| Ecology & Environment|
country of Ecuador despite its small area is the most biological diverse place on earth. The Andes mountain range has of
course been the major catalyst in this diversity and has effectively divided the country into two parts, west and east which
has acted as an explosive catalyst in combining two climatic fronts and helps form new species.
diversity of Ecuador's flora and fauna is correlated with its diverse climatic differences of the higher and lower Andes
combined with the humid eastern Oriente and Amazon regions forming an explosive biological richness of animal, bird and plant
life, as well as varied indigenous natives throughout the lands. As well as attracting nature lovers, the world over the
eastern Oriente has provided 10% of the world's total plant species and with new life and species growing yearly due to the
aforementioned climatic clashes the country has become a paradise of discovery for many of the world's leading botanists,
scientists and other professional and green peace organizations.
FAUNA.- For bird watchers of the world
it should be noted that around 15% of all protected, endangered and endemic bird species are only found in Ecuador through
the Sierra, Amazon and lower coastal areas of the country. Of the 3000 species known throughout the world 50% are represented
in Ecuador making it the densest bird population on the planet as well as having over double the birds of the continent such
as Australia, North America or even Europe who are all at least 20-30 times the size of this country.
% of land area protected: 39.2
area protected (ha): 11,100
No. of areas protected over 1 million ha in size: 6.6
of areas protected over 100,000 ha in size: 46.6
Current environmental issues: Habitat loss, deforestation,
desertification, soil erosion, over-fishing, water pollution, shrimp industry, oil, mining industries and endangered species.
of government: Democratic Republic.
President: Rafael Correa, is the current elected President of Ecuador (January 2007 - 2011).
Galapagos Islands and 22 provinces including:
Azuay, Bolivar, Canar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, El Oro, Esmeraldas,
Guayas, Imbabura, Loja, Los Rios, Manabi, Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Pichincha, Sucumbios, Tungurahua and
Main phones lines: 910,000
Cable TV subscribers:
Cellphone subscribers: 700,000
Internet dial-up accounts: 50,000
Service Providers: 40
PC ownership: 5.5 per 1,000
Roads paved: 20.5%
is considered the premier exporter of Bananas to the entire world and in addition is also forefront in the fishing sector
due to its fine shrimp farming areas down the pacific coastlines as well as high tuna, sardine and white fish exports with
the latter providing much sushi to the Asian and North American Catering industries.
The country's main export
is still however petroleum which specializes in crude and other quality oils for exporting as well as supporting the local
inhabitants and light industry infrastructures.
Although income was good from Petroleum exports in the 70s the
mid 80s on proved a difficult time for the economy and its stability due to declining oil prices and the catastrophic result
of the el Niño effect around 1983 which disrupted coffee, banana, and agricultural harvesting of other fruits and vegetables
due to severe coastal flooding when el Niño dumped tremendous levels of water from the ocean onto the lands.
geo-economic influences from petroleum prices combined with climatic detours that result in loss of agricultural production
countered with growing eco-ethno tourism and the introduction of a stabilizing policy through dollarization from the volatile
Sucre, through the United States and World Monetary fund in 2000 has left the country in better shape and along with the
I.M.F (International Monetary fund) and along with Brady bond loans the country has kept afloat and has shred its past Banana
republic image away these days as more and more travellers prefer to visit this country in preference to many other countries,
it is still one of the cheapest countries to visit, not only in South America but most other continents also, as well as
being incredible value for money and quality time away.
Main agriculture products: Coffee, bananas, rice,
potatoes, cacao, manioc, sugarcane, plantains, cattle, pigs, sheep, beef, pork, shrimp, balsa wood, dairy and fish.
industries: Mining, oil, textiles, food processing, paper products, wood, metal work, plastics, chemical production,
fishing, tourism and lumber.
Trade (US$ M)
Total imports: 3,000
Fuel and energy: 245
Capital goods: 820
Total exports: 4,400
|ECUADOR HOT LINKS|
|ECUADOR HOT SPOTS|
|Guayaquil, Ecuador "Pacific Pearl"
|Discover "The magic of the South Pacific". A complete travel guide to Guayaquil, Ecuador including hotels, tours, travel tips and main attractions.|
|Best weather, tours and much more!. Salinas, is considered the best tourist beach resort in Ecuador's Pacific Coastline....|
|Ecuador's capital and the country's second largest city. A complete travel guide to Quito, Ecuador including hotels, tours, travel tips and main attractions.|
|Ecuador Travel Guide to the Galapagos Islands|
|Discover the wonders of the Galapagos Islands including history, tours, travel tips, tour operators, Geology, weather and much more...|
|Ecuador "Route of the Sun"|
|"Ruta del Sol" is Ecuador's most beautiful coastal scenery road that runs all the way to Esmeraldas.....|