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Ecuador: Andes, volcanoes and nature

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Ecuador (República del Ecuador/Republic of Ecuador) is a presidential republic located on both sides of the equator in the north-west of South America. It is washed by the Pacific to the west, borders to the north with Colombia and to the east and south with Peru. The Galapagos archipelago in the Pacific Ocean is a part of the country.


Ecuador is the country of volcanoes with high peaks in the Andean chain and on the Galapagos Islands. But its territory is also formed by a coastal plain, which is 150 km wide and facing the Pacific Ocean. In this area along the Guayas River lies the most populated city and the largest port and commercial center of the country: Guayaquil with 3,200,000 inhabitants.

Beyond the coastline rises the majestic Cordillera de los Andes, which stretches from north to south for more than 600 km. It is divided into two parallel chains rising from a depression of a height around 2,500 meters. The capital Quito, lying on 2,850 metres, is located in this area at the foot of the volcano Pichincha with 4,784 metres. This volcano forms a part of the Western Cordillera, which possesses the highest peak of Ecuador: the Chimborazo with 6,268 metres. Another major volcano of this part of the Cordillera is the Illiniza with 5,248 metres.

The eastern mountain range is formed by the majestic Cordillera Real, being rich in high mountains. There are partly still active volcanoes like the Cotopaxi with 5,897 metres, the Cayambe with 5,790 metres, the Antisana with 5,704 metres, the Sangay with 5,230 metres and the Tungurahua with 5,023 metres. To the east of the Andes is the Ecuadorean part of the Amazon basin: A wild vast area, rich in forests and sparsely populated. Numerous rivers are flowing towards the Pacific Ocean: Among them are the Esmeraldas and the Guayas. Others are a part of the Amazon basin like the Napo, the Pastaza, the Tigre and the Potumayo, the latter forming the border with Colombia.


Agriculture is the main sector of the economy. But it is still conducted in a rather traditional way, thus being by international standards fairly underdeveloped. Only in the coastal plain the economic activities are profitable. Here Ecuador grows cocoa, making it the biggest producer of the Western Hemisphere after Brazil. This country is also among the major worldwide growers of bananas. Also the growing of coffee, sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, fruits like mangoes, pineapples, oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruits, coconuts and papaya and of the tagua palm are of importance. In the interior of the country are grown barley, maize, wheat, rice, cassava, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts and soy beans.


Among the resources of the subsoil oil is the most important deposit. Natural gas and gold are ranking next. Several oil refineries are to be found. The richness of the forest, from which timber and rubber is obtained, is remarkable, thus making Ecuador the greatest world producer of balsa wood. Fishing is practised for shrimp, lobster and tuna. Cattle, sheep, pigs and lamas are raised. The industry has developed in the textiles, food and tobacco sector. Among the tourist attractions the Galapagos Islands rank first. They are an important natural and ecological reserve.

The climate of Ecuador.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster.

  • Area: 272,045 sq km: arable land 10,7%, pastures 18%, forests and bushland 55%, uncultivated and unproductive land 16,3%
  • Population: 13,800,000 (as for 2007): Amerindians (Quechua) 40%, Mestizos (descendants of Europeans and Amerindians) 40%, Europeans 15%, Africans and Mulattos (descendants of Europeans and Africans) 5%
  • State Capital: Quito.
  • Official Language: The official language is Spanish. Quechua is spoken by the indigenous population.
  • Religion: Roman Catholics 95% and Protestants 5%.
  • Currency: US Dollar (USD)
  • Time Zone: UTC-5 hours, UTC-6 hours on the Galapagos islands.

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