Go To Ecuador: Culture, Mountains, Rainforests And Galapagos

By Wesley Vanderhill

With a territory of 276,841 sq km, Ecuador is about the size of Colorado, USA, or about half the size of France. Compared with other countries in South America, that is relatively small and for that reason, most distances may be traveled by bus in just a day's ride. Buses are inexpensive and the more up-scale services are rather pleasant. Daily flights fly from Quito to all major cities. Many cities are traveled by plane in approximately 30-45 minute flights.

The mainland has three completely different regions, being the Eastern and Western lowlands, divided by the mountain chain of the Andes. As the planet is a somewhat flattened sphere, it is wider along the equator, and there the length to the midst of the earth more than from the poles. With 6,267 m above sea level, the Chimborazo , is at a greater distance from the middle of the planet than Mount Everest. The Andes Mountain Chain and also Galapagos National Park have several very active volcanoes.

Ecuador has 7 notably different climate systems and one can travel relatively short distances and encounter plenty of rain along the Andes slopes whilst the the weather is desert dry down the south coast. Temperatures change from steamy hot in the lowlands to snowy up high in the mountains. The highland plateau with almost all of the older cities is known for its pleasant "eternal spring".

Many cultures prospered in Ecuador millenniums before these were occupied by the Incas in the late 14 hundreds. Many different native dialects are are nevertheless alive, besides official language Spanish along with the Inca language Quichua. Ingapirca is the is the main historical monument from the Incas, as the Spanish mined most buildings for construction materials. Diseases coming over with the colonizers killed tens of thousands of Indians in the first decades of colonization. The "encomienda", the forced labor system of the Spanish has also been a considerable cause of high mortality through the colonial period.

In 1563, Quito became the seat or "audiencia" (administrative district) of the new Spanish colony and in 1717 of the Vice-royalty of New Granada when it was created, which combined the territories of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. New Granada became independent in 1822 adopting Gran Colombia as its new name.

Ecuador split off from the Federation in 1830. Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador fought and lost several wars with its neighboring countries and with that a great deal of territory, while several border issues remained in dispute. The latter were permanently settled in 1999 after a brief war with Peru in 1995. Aforementioned had triggered negotiations under the auspices of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and also the USA. Ecuador now has had about 40 years of democracy.

Ecuador's population of approximately 15 million was primarily concentrated in the mountainous central highlands as recently as several decades ago, but today's human population is distributed about equally between the Andes region and the coastal lowlands. Migration toward cities has expanded the urban population to over 60% of the total, with Guayaquil - 2,600,000 - and capital Quito - 1.8 million - being the largest cities. The Amazon region, known as the "Oriente" (East) remains sparsely populated with approximately 3% of the population.

The Ecuadorian economy is primarilybased on petroleum exploration, manufacturing, primarily for the domestic market, commerce, and agriculture for domestic consumption and export. Principal exports are oil, bananas, shrimp, flowers, and other primary agricultural products. In 2010, crude and refined petroleum products were good for 56% of the total export earnings. Ecuador is the world's largest exporter of bananas and plantains (about $2 billion) as well as a major exporter of shrimp ($800 million) and cacao ($400 million). Exports of non-traditional products such as flowers ($600 million), canned fish ($600 million), and cars ($375 million).

During the last 20 years or so, Ecuador has grown to be a major tourist destination with highlights the Galapagos Islands, old Quito, the colonial part of Cuenca, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Cajas National Park, Cotopaxi and the Otavalo Indian market. Cuyabeno has been rapidly creating a reputation as the best place in the world to get to enjoy tropical rainforest.

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