Ecuador has a total area of 109,483 square miles, including the Galápagos Islands. Of this, 106,889 square miles is land and 2,595 square miles is water. Ecuador is one of the smaller countries in South America but big in its people.
Ecuador is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and has 1,717 miles of pristine coastline. The beautiful Andes Mountains are very profound in Ecuador. It has 1250 miles of land boundaries, with
Colombia in the north 315 miles and Peru in the east and south 900 miles.
The country has three main geographic regions, plus an insular region in the Pacific Ocean:
- La Costa, or the coast, comprises the low-lying land in the western part of the country, including the Pacific coastline.
- La Sierra, (“the highlands”) is the high-altitude belt running north-south along the centre of the country, its mountainous terrain dominated by the Andes mountain range.
- La Amazonía, also known as El Oriente (“the east”), comprises the Amazon rainforest areas in the eastern part of the country, accounting for just under half of the country’s total surface area, though populated by less than 5% of the population.
- The Región Insular is the region comprising the Galápagos Islands, some 620 miles west of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean.
Ecuador’s capital is Quito, which is in the province of Pichincha in the Sierra region. Its largest city is Guayaquil, in the Guayas Province. Cotopaxi, which is just south of Quito, features one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. The top of Mount Chimborazo (6,268 m above sea level) is considered to be the most distant point of the earth’s surface from the center of the earth, given the approximately ellipsoid shape of the planet.
The cuisine in Ecuador is diverse, varying with the altitude and associated agricultural conditions. With over 1700 miles of coastline would account for not only a very large export business of fish but consumption if it as well. Most regions in Ecuador include a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a second course which includes rice and a protein such as meat or fish, and then dessert and coffee to finish. Supper is usually lighter, and sometimes consists only of coffee or herbal tea with bread.
In the highland region seafood, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn) or potatoes.
In the coastal region, seafood is very popular, with fish, shrimp and ceviche being key parts of the diet. Generally, ceviches are served with fried plantain (chifles y patacones), popcorn or tostado. This region is a leading producer of bananas, plantains, cacao beans (to make chocolate), shrimp, tilapia, mangos and passion fruit, among other products.
In the Amazon region, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms.
Almost all of the rivers in Ecuador form in the Highland region and flow east toward the Amazon River or west toward the Pacific Ocean. This country is blessed with enormous rivers the largest and arguably the most influential is the Amazon. These rivers are very important to the eco-system and to wild life.
Ecuador has the first constitution to recognize the rights of nature. Ecuador has 1,600 bird species (15% of the world’s known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more endemic in the Galápagos. In addition to over 16,000 species of plants, the country has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly. The Galápagos Islands are well known as a region of distinct fauna, famous as the place of birth of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ecuador is one of 17 mega-diverse countries in the world according to Conservation International, and it has the most biodiversity per square mile of any nation. In addition to the mainland, Ecuador owns the Galápagos Islands, for which the country is best known.