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Ecuador facts

Ecuador beachEcuador is a tiny country, yet it encompasses a huge variety of elevations and environments, from the Pacific coast to glacier-clad Andean highlands, to the Amazonian low-lands, to the Galapagos Islands, 1000 km off the coast.

National name: Republic of Ecuador.

Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru.

Capital: Quito

Area: 109,483 sq mi (283,560 sq km)

Population (2005 est.): 13,363,593

Independence: 24 May 1822 (from Spain)

Largest cities: Quito 1780700 (metro. area), 1443900 (city proper),  Guayaquil, 2,597,600 (metro. area), 2,013,500 (city proper); Cuenca, 285,700.

Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 65%, Amerindian 25%, Spanish and others 7%, black 3%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%.

Languages: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua).

Currency: US dollar (USD).

Country Structure: 22 provinces; Azuay, Bolivar, Canar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Galapagos, Guayas, Imbabura, Loja, Los Rios, Manabi, Morona Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Pichincha, Sucumbios, Tungurahua, Zamora Chinchipe

When to Go: The high seasons are generally considered to be mid-December through January and June through August, as this is when most foreign visitors arrive, but visiting year-round is no problem. In the Galapagos, peak tourist periods are June to August, December to January and around Easter. The wildlife is always there, and you can see birds courting and young in their nests during any month. The exception are waved albatrosses, which leave en masse in mid-December and stay at sea until late March. The coast has similar weather; hot and wet from January to May (when rainstorms may make some roads impassable), and drier and cooler during the rest of the year. January to April, although rainy, coincides with coastal school vacations, and so the beaches are crowded. July and August are gray, damp and overcast, but are the best months for whale watering.

The dry season in the highlands is normally June to August or September, which coincides with the wettest months in the Oriente, when roads may be closed. continues...


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