Region: South America & Central America
The nation is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.
Spanish, which is the official language, is spoken by most of the population. Some Indians, however, speak only a Quechuan language.
Area (sq. km):
283,560 square meters
Ecuador is five hours behind GMT
Ecuador has wet and dry seasons, with the local weather pattern varying greatly depending on the geographic region. In the jungle regions of the Oriente it is hot and rain falls most months with the wettest months being from June to August and the driest from September to December. On the Galapagos Islands and on the coastal areas of the mainland the hot and rainy season runs from January to April. Daytime temperatures on Ecuador’s coastal strip average 31°C but can be much higher during these months. From May to September temperatures are slightly lower and there is less chance of rain. In the highlands the dry season is from June to September and there is a short dry season in December. The temperature in Quito remains constant all year round and averages a maximum of 20°C and a minimum of 7°C.
Due to Ecuador’s geographical diversity this small country has many different climates and microclimates. Essentially, you can visit Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands at any time of the year.
Quito International Airport is located 20 kilometres north of the city centre. There is a 24 hour yellow taxi rank outside the terminal and a fare to the city centre should cost approximately US$30.
The international dialling code for Ecuador is +593. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Latin America. Most countries in the region operate on the 1900 Mhz system. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.
The electricity supply in Ecuador is rated at 110 volts.
Lunch is the main meal of the day in Ecuador. Ecuadorian specialities include llapingachos (pancakes stuffed with mashed potato and cheese); shrimp or lobster ceviche. This is traditionally accompanied by popcorn and chifles (thinly sliced and fried green bananas); locro (stew of potatoes and cheese); humitas (flavoured sweetcorn tamale); and the national delicacy of cuy (roasted guinea pig). Bakeries offer delicious sweet pastries and empanadas (hot crispy meat-or cheese-filled pastries). Another popular snack is patacones (squashed fried green bananas). Ecuador has some of the best beer in South America. The most popular brand is Pilsner. The best local drink is canelazo, made from sugar cane, alcohol, lemon, sugar and cinnamon. Another local drink is pisco, made from fresh lemon.
Ecuador is a small country with most regions being serviced by bus transportation. Roads in the eastern part of the country can be rough, especially in those areas of the Amazon where large amounts of rain fall. Air services are operated between Quito and Guayquil and some of the smaller cities. The normal means of transportation to the Galapagos Islands is by regular flight. The road system of Ecuador comprises about 43,197 km of roads, of which approximately 19 per cent is paved. The Pan-American Highway runs through the country from north to south. The railways carry freight and passengers over about 956 km of track. Ecuador has several seaports. Guayaquil, which is connected by air and rail to the major cities, and La Libertad are the main ports. Many rivers, including the Guayas, Daule, and Vinces, have been dredged and are now navigable.
Ecuador has a great range of handicrafts, look out for wooden carved figures, balsa wood birds, local Indian textiles, silver, weavings, woollen blankets, rugs, alpaca products, Panama hats, ethnic clothing, leather goods, tagua figures and native paintings amongst several others. If you only have time for one shopping trip, head up to the Saturday market at Otavalo, which is 95km north of Quito.
Visa: Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Canadians and British do not currently require a visa for Ecuador. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Ecuador - A Fragile Democracy-Corkill & Cubitt The Panama Hat Trail-T Miller Galapagos - A Natural History Guide-M Jackson