Ecuador comprises a Pacific coastline, Andean highlands rising to the 20,564-foot summit of Mount Chimborazo, a tract of Amazon jungle and the Galápagos Islands, situated 620 miles to the west of the mainland. As a result, it is a country of astonishing biodiversity. Found within its borders are more than 2,500 species of orchids, 4,500 species of butterflies and more bird species than in all of North America and Europe combined. The region became part of the Inca Empire in 1463 but was soon absorbed into the Spanish colonial empire. Spanish rule ended in 1822, but the colonial architecture and Incan remains survive in small towns and bustling cities. Indigenous people today constitute around 25 percent of the total population of 15 million. Both the capital, Quito, and the city of Cuenca are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
One hour behind New York (EST).
The U.S. dollar is the officially recognized currency.
To phone hotels in Ecuador, dial 011 (international access) + 593 (Ecuador code) + city code and local numbers in listings.
Ecuador has four distinct climatic zones: the Galápagos, the Pacific coast, the Andes (Quito) and the Amazon. June to September is the driest period in both Quito and the Amazon. The Galápagos have a complex climate: During the cool, dry season from June to November, clouds and mist frequently envelop the islands, whereas in the warm, wet season from December to May, the wind drops, and between downpours there is considerably more sunshine.
Quito, Tel. (593) 2-398-5000. Consulate: Guayaquil, Tel. (593) 4-371-7000.