Essential Ecuador

cdrEcuador is so called because it is located on the equatorial line in northwestern South America. The country borders the Pacific Ocean to the west, Colombia to the north, and Peru to the south and east. Ecuador is the eighth largest country in South America, and is the smallest of the Andean countries. It is 283,561 square kilometres in size, which is roughly the size of Nevada and is divided into four geographical regions: The Andes (La Sierra), the Amazon Rainforest (El Oriente), La Costa (The Coast), and the Galapagos Islands.

Quito is the second largest city, and capital. Other major cities are Guayaquil, the largest city, which is also called the `Pearl of the Pacific’ and Cuenca.

The coastal area runs along the Pacific Ocean shore and features low mountains, valleys, plains, mangroves, rivers, and rainforests. It has a tropical climate which is generally hot and humid.

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 7,000 feet, covering a distance of 400 km from the northern to the southern Andes. This is called the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.”

The tallest of these volcanoes is the 6,267 metre Chimborazo, an inactive volcano which last erupted in 550 A.D. The Ecuadorian volcano Cotopaxi is, at 5,897 metres, the highest active volcano in the world.

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.

The Galapagos Islands are located around 1,000 kilometres west of mainland Ecuador. The volcanic islands have a subtropical climate and are marked by beaches and forests.

The three colours of the flag have special significance for the country. Yellow represents the diversity in the country, blue is for the sky and the sea, and red signifies the blood of those who fought for independence.

The main languages are Spanish and Quechua and Ecuador uses the US dollar as its currency.

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