Ecuador 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.
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;
Cotopaxi, El Oro,
Loja, Los Rios,
Morona Santiago, Napo,
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...