Country name: Republic of Ecuador (Republica del Ecuador)

Status: Republic, divided in 22 provinces.

Independence: 24 May 1822 (from Spain)

Chief of state: President Rafael CORREA Delgado (since 15 January 2007)
note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Size: 283 560 sq km, 63 % of Sweden, or same size as the state of Nevada. .

Highest point: Chimborazo 6 267 m

Population: 13.8 mill. (July 2007 est.)

Capital: Quito. 2,1 mill 2007 (altitude 2850 m.a.s.l., second highest capital after La Paz, Bolivia, (3600 m) if you don't consider Sucre the Bolivian capital; it is the legal capital, La Paz is the administrative capital)

Largest city: Guayaquil (2,2 mill. 2001)

Languages: The official language is Spanish. There are at least 62 indigenous languages.

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

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%

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

Electricity: 110 Volt, 60 Hertz AC (plugs are 2-pronged, like US pre-1970s)
Fluctuations are common, so for laptops etc a surge protector (cortapicos) is recommended.

Weights and measures: Metric

Time difference: 6 hours behind Sweden in winter. Distance: ≈ 10 000 km.

Quito in Feb:
Dawn 06:02
Sunrise 06:24
Daylength 12:07 (+- 4 minutes during a whole year)
Sunset 18:31
Dusk 18:53
Mean temp, C: 18.28
Precipitation, mm 132
Wet days, d 14.2

Entry requirements: no visa needed, only passport, which must be valid 6 months from date of arrival. Embarkation card are issued at arrival. Visa only needed for > 6 months stay.

Currency: US dollar (USD), the sucre was eliminated in 2000. Forex and Oanda.

International telephone code: +593

Internet suffix: .ec Internet cafés: very common, down to 0.50 USD/hour in Quito.

Biogeography: Ecuador has extraordinarily high biodiversity due to a lot of exceptionally different habitats on a rather small area.
The density of bird species is highest of all South American countries, among the highest in the world.
There are at least 1580 bird species, 4500 butterflies and 3500 orchids (highest number in the world).
Ecuador's mainland divides into three distinct regions running the length of the country in parallel strips.
In the middle is the sierra, formed by the eastern and western chains of the Andes, with 55 volcanic peaks, 8 still active, the highest is Chimborazo (6 310 m). If you measure from the earth's center it is the highest peak in the world due to it's position at the equator. The sierra is enclosed by a series of high plateaux at around 2800 m, themselves divided by gentle transverse ridges, or nudos. This is the agricultural and indegenous heartland of Ecuador, with the contry's oldest and most important cities, including the capital Quito. East of the sierra is the Oriente, a large, sparsely populated area extending into the upper Amazon basin, much of it covered by dense tropical rainforest, but under increasing threat from the oil industry and colonization.
West of the sierra, in the coastal region, banana, sugar, coffee, rice and caco crops line a fertile alluvial plain that is bordered on its Pacific seaboard by a string of beaches, mangrove swamps, shrimp farms and ports.

Weather: Since Ecuador is situated on the equator there is no real summer and winter. In the sierra June-Sept are warmest and driest. Outside these months, typical sierra weather offers sunny, clear mornings and cloudy, often wet, afternoons.
In the Oriente, you can expect it to be warm, humid and rainy throughout the year, though there are often short breaks from the daily rains from Aug-Sept and Dec-Feb. In the lowlands it can get particularly hot on clear days, with temp easily topping 30°C.
The coast has the most clearly defined wet and dry seasons, and the best time to visit is from Dec-April, when frequent showers alternate with clear blue skies and temp stays high.

Health: No vaccination needed.
Insect-bourne deceases: malaria (Anopheles, below 1500 m, dawn and dusk), dengue fever (Aedes, dayactive), leishmaniasis (sand flies, lowlands), river blindness (black flies, fast-moving water), chagas desease (bugs, only in rural areas with poor hygiene in buildings).

Acute Mountain Sickness (above 3000 m). Drink mate (coca-leaf tea).

Equatorial sun: very strong, especially in the mountains. Use sunblock.

Protected areas: About 17 % of the mainland is protected within 31 state-run national parks and reserves, in addition to 97 % of Galápagos. There is a list and a map of all the reserves in the Rough Guide, page 53.
World Natural Heritage Site: Sangay and Galápagos.
World Biosphere Reserve: Yasuní and Galápagos.
No permit is needed to visit any of Ecuador's national parks; you simply turn up and pay your entrance fee (5-20 USD).

Private reserves: There is a growing number of smaller private reserves run by ecological foundations etc. These places are generally much better geared to receive tourists than the national parks, and many have lodges or accomodation within the main research station. They often have clear trails, rubber boots to borrow, guides and bird lists. They are much more expensive though, up to 100 USD/night, for example in the cloud forest in NW and the jungle lodges in the Oriente.

History: What is now Ecuador formed part of the northern Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in 1533. Quito became a seat of Spanish colonial government in 1563 and part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717. The territories of the Viceroyalty - New Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, and Quito - gained their independence between 1819 and 1822 and formed a federation known as Gran Colombia. When Quito withdrew in 1830, the traditional name was changed in favor of the "Republic of the Equator." Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors. A border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999.
Although Ecuador marked 25 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period has been marred by political instability. Protests in Quito have contributed to the mid-term ouster of Ecuador's last three democratically elected Presidents.


Compilated by Erling Jirle, 1 Nov 2007. Most of the facts are from the CIA Factbook.