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Welcome to Ecuador!

Straddling the equator, this small nation is richly endowed with snowy Andean peaks towering over emerald-green slopes, rivers winding through tropical jungles, and beyond all this, in the Pacific, lie the Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador offers a fascinating blend of the colonial and indigenous cultures: charming towns and villages, colorful indigenous markets, pre-Colombian artifacts, and impressive architecture.

FACTS AND FIGURES

Size
283.520 sq. km. (one of the smallest countries in South America), 685 km. From North to South. Ecuador is about the size of the state of Colorado.

Population
12.500.000 (projection for 2002)
40% indigenous, 40% mestizo, 10% European, 10% others (African/Asian origins). 48% of the population lives on the coastal plain, 47% in the Andean highlands, and 5% in the Eastern lowlands.

Main towns
Quito: The capital, in the highlands; altitude 2.850m
Population: 1.850.000

Guayaquil: Largest city and main port
Population: 2.000.000

Cuenca: Main town of southern highlands; altitude 2.595 m.
Population: 277.000

History
1527: First Spanish contact; Pizarro's men land at Esmeraldas, in Northern Ecuador.
1535: Incorporated into the Viceroyalty of Peru; what is now Ecuador is known as the Real Audiencia de Quito.
1822: Ecuador gains independence from Spain after the battle of Pichincha, May 24 under the leadership of Mariscal Sucre. It is incorporated into the Gran Colombia.
1830: Becomes fully independent under its first President, Juan José Flores.
1942: War with Perú; much of the Ecuadorian Amazon is lost to Perú, but Ecuador still claims the region.
1998: Peace has finally been signed with Perú.

Currency
Since 2000, the monetary unit of Ecuador is the US Dollar.

Electricity
110 Volts, 60 cycles, A.C.

Local Time
G.M.T. - 5 hours mainland Ecuador; G.M.T. - 6 hours Galapagos Islands.

Climate

The weather is spring-like most of the year in Quito and the central highlands. The dry months are July through October, when the temperature averages 20 degreesC during the day and 8 degreesC in the evenings. On the coast, the average temperature is 32 degreesC. January to April is the hot season and May to December the dry season. In the jungle the weather is tropical year round, with average temperatures of 31 degreesC. It rains here most of the year, but heavier from June to November. It is this time the jungle is at its best and the rivers most navigable.