Ecuador is located on the equator. Its name in Spanish literally means “Republic of the Equator”. (“Republica del Ecuador”). It is a country of spectacular flora and fauna. In fact, Ecuador is one of 17 “Megadiverse Countries” displaying extreme biodiversity and is home to a majority of the Earth’s species.
Unesco World Heritage sites include The Galapagos Islands, the living laboratory for Charles Darwin’s seminal studies on evolution, and the 1,999 sq. mile (5,178 km2) Sangay National Park, an important refuge for rare Andean species. Ecuador is fertile and bananas drive the agricultural sector economy.
More than 250,000,000 boxes of bananas are exported from Ecuador each year, making it the leading banana exporting country in the world.
Ecuador is divided into four distinct climatic zones:
1. The Andes Mountains, “La Sierra”, form the spine of Ecuador where Quito, the Capital, resides.
2.The Eastern Slopes of the Andes tumble into “La Amazonia”, the Amazon Rainforest, comprising 5% of the population.
3.The Western Slopes of the Andes descend to “La Costa”, (the coast), the fertile low-lying lands and Pacific shoreline.
4.The Galapagos Islands, “La Region Insular”, lying 620 miles (1,000 km) west of the mainland.
Quito is the capital of Ecuador. Situated at an elevation of 9,350 feet above sea-level (2,800 meters), with a population of nearly 3 million people, Quito is the political and administrative seat of power. Its historic center was the first Unesco World Heritage Site established in 1978 and is the largest and most perfectly preserved historic center in the Americas. Majestic Cotopaxi, an active volcano, rises 5,897 m (19,347 ft.) 50 km (31 miles) from Quito.
Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador with nearly 4 million people in recent years is the commercial center of the country, located on the banks of the Guayas River. Over the past decade, Guayaquil has undergone a positive transformation into a vibrant city attracting both international and domestic tourists. The beautiful Malecon 2000, a river front promenade with the first IMAX theater in South America epitomizes this Spirit of Renewal, at the base of the charming “Las Penas”, the 19th century colonial historical neighborhood and birth-place of Guayaquil.
(Left Image: Quito | Right Image: Las Penas, Guayaquil)