Government: Democratic Republic President: Guillermo Lasso Currency: USD Population: 14,204,900 (2010)
Capitol: Quito Dialing code: +593
Ecuador is located on the equatorial line in northwestern South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean to the west, Colombia to the north, and Peru to the south and east. The new constitution of September 2008, is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights. It was approved by a large margin of the registered voters in Ecuador, with a 63.93% to 28.10% margin of victory. Ecuador is the eighth largest country in South America, at roughly the size of the US state of Nevada. Ecuador is home to a great variety of species, many of them endemic, like those of the Galápagos islands. This species and geographic diversity makes Ecuador one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Ecuador has four geographical regions: The Andes (La Sierra), the Amazon Rainforest (El Oriente), La Costa (The Coast), and the Galapagos Islands.
The Galapagos Islands are located around 1,000 kilometers west of mainland Ecuador. The volcanic islands have a subtropical climate, and are marked by beaches and forests. During the Galápagos Islands' dry season, which runs from June to December, the weather is cooler and windier. From October to May, the weather is warmer and there is frequently light rain.
The Coast runs along the west coast and features low mountains, valleys, plains, mangroves, rivers and rainforests. The Coast has a tropical climate, and is hot and humid. The Coast is cloudy, cooler and dry from May to December, and hotter and rainier from January to April.
The Andes region, or central highlands, lying between the western coastal lowlands and the eastern jungles, consists of mountain ranges, foothills and valleys. The two sides of the Andes, the Western and Eastern Andes contain 60 volcanoes with an average altitude of 7000 feet, covering a distance of 400 km from the northern to the southern Andes. This is called the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” Due to the altitude, the Andes region has cool, spring-like weather, with a great deal of sunshine. Temperatures vary throughout the day. The highlands are overcast and wet during the rainy season (October-May), and drier, with mild showers, common in the afternoon, during the dry season (June-September).
The Amazon region is east of the Andes, and it borders Colombia and Peru, and contains part of the Amazon rainforest, as well as rivers and rolling jungles. Three active volcanoes are located in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest: Sangay, Reventador and Sumaco. This is the only country where three active volcanoes are located inside the Amazon rainforest, The Amazon is hot and humid, and receives a significant amount of rainfall year-round. The Amazon is the wettest from June to August.
Natural landscapes make up a good deal of the land mass—the Amazon alone takes up about 50% of the land area.
Current environmental issues:
Deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution; pollution from oil production wastes (the infamous Chevron-Texaco oil spill in the northern Amazon in 1973) in ecologically sensitive areas of the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador has one of the highest deforestation rates in Latin America, with an annual loss of between 60,000 and 200,000 hectares (148,000 and 495,000 acres) per year.
Copper mining in the ecological diverse Intag cloud forest: In 2012, without consulting local communities, the Chilean and Ecuadorean governments signed a contract reopen Intag’s Junin mining project, starting as early as the second semester of 2013. The project is set to be undertaken by the Chilean owned Codelco, the world’s larges copper producer, and the Ecuadorian state-owned mining company, ENAMI. Once again, the stage is set for the conflict in Intag to escalate. Read more here: About Intag.
In 2013 the President at that time, Rafael Correa approved oil drilling in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini area of Yasuni National Park.
We recommended Ecuador Tourism Board and Lonely Planet's websites for great detailed information on Ecuador's tourist information.