Ecuador country information
Ecuador General Information
Name: Republic of Ecuador
Independence: May 24, 1822 (from Spain)
Type of government: Democratic Republic
Current President: Rafael Correa
Area: 256,370 sq. kilometers
Population: 12.1 million
Capital City: Quito (population 1.2 million)
Principal cities: Guayaquil, Quito, and Cuenca
Official language: Spanish
Currency: U.S. Dollar
Mestizo (mixed Indigenous and Spanish): 45%
Indigenous groups: over 40 indigenous nations including the Quichua, Huaorani, Shuar (Jivaro), Achuar, Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Otavaleño, Tchatchilas (Colorados), Zaparo, Salasacas, Canaris, Saraguro & Chachi
Spanish (official), numerous indigenous tongues. Quichua, the language of the Incas, is the most widely spoken indigenous language. English is commonly spoken among professionals and tourism providers.
95% Roman Catholic, however most mestizos and indigenous converts combine Catholicism with animistic practices and beliefs.
Location: north western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru
Border countries: Colombia 590 km, Peru 1,420 km
Area: 256,370 sq. km.- roughly the size of the U.S. State of Colorado
Coastline: 2,237 kilometers
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean, 0 meters
Highest point: Chimborazo Volcano, 6,310 meters
(note: Cotopaxi Volcano in the Andes is the highest active volcano in world)
Climate: tropical along the coast and in the Amazon region, and cooler in the highlands
Terrain: coastal plain (Costa), inter-Andean highlands (Sierra), rolling eastern rainforest plain (Oriente) & the Galapagos Island Archipelago
Arable land: 6%
Permanent crops: 5%
Permanent pastures: 18%
Forests and woodlands: 56%
Ecology & Environment
Overview: In the Ecuadorian Amazon, which represents just two percent of the whole basin, live one-third of all the bird species in the entire Amazon region, and 10 percent of all the tree species on earth. Over 24 tropical life zones are found in Ecuador (according to the Holdridge Life Zone system) including: mangrove swamp, dry tropical forest, tropical cloud forest, paramo, and tropical lowland rainforest. Due to its great variety of life zones, Ecuador boasts one the highest levels of bio-diversity in the world. For example one hectare of lowland rainforest can contain as many frog species as in all of North America; one tree can contain more ant species than in all of the British Isles combined; and of the world's known bird species (about 9,000), pint-sized Ecuador is home to over 1,500. Ecuador also has one of the greatest levels of endemism anywhere in the world.
freshwater fish: 706
freshwater fish: 0
% of habitat remaining:
wetlands: no data
Total area protected (ha): 11,114
% of land area protected: 39.3
No. of areas protected over 100,000 ha in size: 46.7
No. of areas protected over 1 million ha in size: 6.7
Current environmental issues:
deforestation, habitat loss, soil erosion, desertification, water pollution, over-fishing, endangered species, oil and mining industries, shrimp industry
International environmental agreements:
parties to Antarctica-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Bio-diversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83 & 94, Wetlands, Whaling, and Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Making Calls to Ecuador
To call Ecuador from abroad you must dial the international access code (011 in the United States) followed by Ecuador's country code (593), followed by the city code (listed below), and finally the number (seven digits for calls to Quito, Guayaquil, and cell phone numbers, and six digits for calls to the rest of Ecuador).*
The city/provincial codes for Ecuador are as follows:
Pinchincha (Quito) - 2
Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Pastaza, Chimborazo, Bolívar - 3
Guayas (Guayaquil) - 4
Galápagos, Los Ríos, Manabí - 5
Carchi, Esmeraldas, Imbabura, Napo, Orellana, Sucumbíos - 6
Azuay (Cuenca), Cañar, El Oro, Loja, Morona, Zamora - 7
All cellulars - 9
*Please keep in mind that, as of October 1, 2003, all cities phone numbers begin with a 2 and all cellular phone numbers begin with a 9. Accordingly, if you encounter a phone number for a listing within cities, or for a cellular phone, that is only six-digits, please remember to add a 2 or a 9 at the beginning of the phone number as the case may be.
Making Calls in Ecuador
In major cities, local calls can be made from sporadically placed street phones, owned in large part by either Movistar or Porta. A few coin operated phones may still be found, but most pay-phones now operate on debit cards that may be purchased from BMovistar and Porta stores and booths scattered about the larger cities and in certain pharmacies and convenience stores. Remember that, when making calls within Ecuador from a pay phone, you must start by dialing 0, followed by the two-digit city code (listed above), before dialing the six- or seven-digit number.
It is also possible to make calls from tiendas (stores) that lend phones to the public; prices vary according to the owner's mood. The cheapest calls, whether local, inter-provincial, or international, are made at the offices of Andinatel (phone company). Fax service is also available at Andinatel. Expect to stand in line to use either of these services.
Collect calls are possible to a limited number of countries. In the Andinatel offices, the call will be connected for you; from private phones you can connect with an international operator by first dialing 999, then the appropriate country code: Argentina (161) Brazil (177) Canada (175) Chile (179/166/168) France (180) Great Britain (178) Spain (176) Switzerland (160) USA (AT&T - 119, MCI - 170, Sprint - 171) and Venezuela (173). For more collect call country codes, look in the phone book or speak with an operator.
Web-based phones like Net-Phone and dialpad.com are revolutionizing international calls to the United States. Though calling is currently limited to United States, it will soon expand to Europe and other parts of the world. Many of the Internet cafes (see the Email section below) in Quito support Net-Phone. The Internet cafes generally charge about 15 cents per minute, this can add up but it's much cheaper than calling with a calling card or collect.
Internet cafes are becoming increasingly common throughout Ecuador, especially in Quito. Internet Cafes pepper the La Mariscal, Quito's main tourist and commercial district.
Air mail services between Ecuador and the Americas/Europe are generally quick and efficient. Postcards and air mail letters to the US normally take between 7-10 days, and to Europe between 10 days and 2 weeks. When posting airmail mark each one with POR AVION, otherwise it may not arrive until well into the next century.
The postage on air mail letters (up to 20g) and postcards sent to destinations within Ecuador costs thirty three cents while the postage on those sent anywhere else within the Americas and destinations worldwide is seventy cents and eighty six cents, respectively. Letters, greeting cards etc. cannot be sealed with Scotch tape. Instead you must use gum/glue, normally available in Correos (Post offices). Parcels can be sealed before being taken to the Correo, where the sender must complete a custom's declaration listing contents and value. Parcel prices depend on weight and destination. Two services are available: 4 week delivery and a more expensive 2 week delivery.
Some embassies/consulates will hold mail for a specific period of time and even receive faxes on your behalf - before leaving home, you should check what services your embassy/consulate provides. Additionally, the South America Explorer's Club and American Express offices will receive mail and faxes on your behalf if you are a member/client. Some travel agencies, Spanish schools, and hotels now also offer e-mail, mail and fax
services for their patrons.
Ecuador: When to go
Ecuador's climate is so varied and variable that any time of the year is good for a visit. In the highlands, every valley seems to have its own microclimate but, generally, in the northern and central Andes, the driest months are June to September. In the southern highlands the driest months are August to January. Rainfall drops almost linearly from north to south along the Pacific coast, so that it can rain throughout the year in northern Esmeraldas and seldom at all near the Peruvian border. The coast can be enjoyed year-round, although it may be cool from June to September, and mornings are often grey and misty. In the Oriente, as in the rest of the Amazon basin, heavy rain can fall at any time, but it is usually wettest from April to September. The Galápagos are hot from January to April, when heavy showers are likely. From May to September is the cooler misty season. Remember, however, that these are only broad generalizations and, simply stated, the weather in most of Ecuador is highly unpredictable.
Ecuador is not overcrowded at any time of the year.
Sources: World Resources Institute, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the World Bank Group.