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information about Ecuador

Ecuador is located in the north west of South America, on the equator, which divides it between the two hemispheres. The Andes, the sea current and the Amazon region all give rise to significant variations in climate. Ecuador has four regions. The Pacific Coast has a hot, dry climate in the south and a humid, tropical climate in the north. In the Andes there are hot, temperate and cold areas: there are valleys of varying altitudes and climates. In contrast, in the Amazon region high temperatures prevail, with high rainfall and frequent showers. Finally the Galapagos islands, made famous by Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution, offer a pleasant sub-tropical climate.

The enormous biodiversity of the four regions has given way to thousands of species of flora and fauna among rich, untouched land. Ecuador is home to approximately 1640 kinds of birds, of which about 500 live in the Mindo-Nambillo woodland reserve, north-west of Quito. There are about 4500 species of butterflies, 345e reptiles, 358 of amphibians and 258 of mammals, to name but a few. So it is not without reason that Ecuador is considered one of the planet’s top 17 countries for its biodiversity. From North to South and East to West, there are National Parks such as Cotopaxi, Sangay and Machalilla. Snow-capped mountains, lakes and beaches are set among more than 20 areas protected by the State, whilst dozens of woodland areas make up vast green belts.

Ecuador is a multi-racial and multi-cultural nation. It has a population of over 12.5 million. Throughout its three mainland regions, 13 indigenous groups still survive in the mountains, forests, jungle and coastal region, each with their own cosmo-vision. The Amazon region is home to the Eastern Quechuas, Huaorani, Achuar, Shuar, Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Shiwiar and Zaparo groups. The Highland Quechuas live in the Andes. The Coast is the native territory of the Chachis, Cayapas, Tsachilas and Awa. The urban areas are inhabited by mestizos (mixed race), whites and Afro-Ecuadorians. The official language is Spanish but other native languages, such as Quechua or Awapit, are also spoken. The predominant religion is Catholic, yet many groups still hold their age-old beliefs and worship the earth, the snow-capped peaks or the sun.

LIFE IN ECUADOR

Ecuador is a small but geographically diverse country. Although covering just 256,370 sq. km. (99,130 sq. miles) Ecuador contains one of the most varied geographies in South America. There are four distinct regions: the Andean highlands, the coastal tropical plains, the Amazon Basin and the Galapagos Islands, located 1,000 km. (600 miles) off the coast in the Pacific Ocean. Quito, on the highlands, is the capital city; Guayaquil, on the coast, is the main port and the largest city in the country.

Legally and morally, everyone is equal in Ecuador, irrespective of race or gender. In reality, blacks and indigenous people are discriminated against and treated as second-class citizens.

The gay community in Ecuador is very small, and discrete. It doesn't appear in public, but there is still a lot of prejudism. The gay businesses in Ecuador are: a travel Agency (www.gaytraveller.biz), restaurants, a hostel, saunas, Hairdressers, escort agencies, and GAY NGOs, but also there are gay friendly restaurants, hotels and discotheques in most of the big cities.

Nightlife is best on weekends, and the trendy, slightly bohemian Mariscal district (an area no bigger than 5 km2 between Patria avenue and Orellana), is where you'll find the hot spots. The establishments in this area of the city are requested to close at 2:30am, normaly this request is not respected and establishments stay open untill dawn.

ECUADOR FACTS

The People
Ecuador's predominat religion is Roman Catholicism (95%). The ecuadorian population is of more than 12 million inhabitants, those in the highlands are mainly meztizo, a mixture of European and Native South American extractions. Indigenous people live mainly in the Andean highlands and in the Amazon regions. Coastal dwellers are descendants of Native South Americans, Europeans and Africans.

Language
The official languages of Ecuador are Spanish and Quechua. English is spoken in the major visitor centers and European Languages may be spoken in some establishments catering to tourists in Quito and the more popular tourist destinations.

Climate
Ecuador's climate is so varied that it makes any time of the year the right time for a visit. In the highlands, the weather remains at a perfect, spring like climate year round. Every valley seems to have its own microclimate. In general, however, the average temperature in the Sierra rises to a dry 22° C / 72° F at midday to a cool 8° C/ 46° F in the early morning and evening. Generally, the driest months in the Northern and Central Andes are from June to September. In the southern highlands, the driest months are from August to January. Rain tends to appear along the Pacific Coast, so although it may rain in northern Esmeraldas, it seldom does so near the Peruvian border. In spite of the rainfall, the coast can be enjoyed year-round, with cooler temperatures more common from June to September. In the Oriente or the Amazon basin, heavy rain can fall at any time, but it is usually wettest from April to September. The Galapagos and the coast are both hot (averages of 31° C / 88° F) from January to April, when heavy showers are likely. From May to September is the islands' cooler misty season.

Time
Local time on the mainland is Greenwich Meridian Time minus 5 hours (Eastern Standard Time in the United States). Galapagos time is GMT minus 6 hours.

Food
One of Ecuador's best attractions is its food. You can taste and enjoy the freshest and most complete variety of common and exotic fruits and vegetables, many of which are available only at these latitudes. The typical dishes of Ecuador are delicious and highly recommended. Try some of the Ecuadorian specialties: humitas and tamales (made of corn and wrapped in leaves), llapingachos (fried mashed potato patties with cheese), ceviche (a saucy shrimp dish), and locro (a soup of stewed potatoes and cheese topped with an avocado). There are many excellent restaurants in the main cities and a restaurant guide is distributed free to all visitors upon arrival in Ecuador. Quito has a wide variety of excellent restaurants that offer not only typical but also international and ethnic cuisine.

Currency
Since September 2000, the US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador. US dollar bills circulate in the following denominations: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Ecuadorian coins of $0.01, $0.05, $0.10, $0.25 and $0.50. These Ecuadorian coins have no value outside the country.

Business Hours
Most businesses are open from 9.00 AM to 12:30 AM and from 14:30 PM to 18:30 PM Monday through Friday. Some businesses open from 09:00 AM through 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Currency exchange facilities are open week days and saturday morning in major hotels. Banking facilities are not available in remote areas. U.S. dollars are accepted throughout the country.

Shopping Centers open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday trough saturday and from 10:00 AM to 19:00 PM on Sundays.

* Shopping hours are for information purposes only and are subject to change without notice.

Shopping
Ecuador has some of the best and most interesting handcrafts in all of South America. And, although part of the fun is buying them in local Indian markets, almost all of the best examples can be found in Quito. Among the country's best and most popular buys are: hand woven sweaters and tapestries, Panama hats, ponchos, fringed shawls, ethnic jewelry, straw goods, bread-dough figures, ceramics and modern and primitive paintings.

Passport And Visas
All visitors to Ecuador must have a passport valid for at least six months.
Only citizens of the following countries require a consular visa to visit Ecuador as tourists: Algeria, Bangladesh, South, Korea, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam and Yemen.
Upon entry, all visitors are required to complete a brief international embarcation/ disembarcation card, which is stamped along with your passport. Keep this card in your passport, as it will be requested when leaving the country.

Clothing
In the highlands region, it is best to dress in layers since temperatures vary, beginning and ending the day quite cool but becoming warm in the midday sun. Wear a sweater over a light shirt and T-shirt, and carry a light, preferably water resistant jacket and umbrella, especially during the rainy season.

In the tropical climates, light cotton clothing is recommended. Bring along a sweater or light jacket since it can cool down in the evenings. In the jungle regions, long-sleeved shirts and long cotton pants, as well as a good pair of walking shoes, are recommended.

Electricity
110 AC. Most outlets are for two flat prongs.

Telephone
International country code: 593.Quito code: 2. Guayaquil code: 4. Cuenca code: 7.

ADDITIONAL TRAVEL FACTS AND INFORMATION MAY BE FOUND ON:
www.galapagostraveller.com, (593 2) 2955.939, Guayaquil N9-59 y Oriente.- Quito Ecuador.

For articles about tourisim in Ecuador click here!!!

GAY LIFE

The 1998 constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and attitudes have gradually become more liberal towards gay life in Quito and Ecuador in general has undergone a great change in the last few years. Before 1998 the Ecuadorian Constitution considered homosexuality a crime punishable by prison. Long before the Constitution was changed there where important changes in peoples tolerance towards homosexuals. These changes in the Constitution had a very positive effect on gay life.

Since this change, gay life is much more open and new bars, discotheques, saunas, theaters etc., have opened. The gay life is much more visible at night.

There are: a travel agency, restaurants, a hostel, saunas, hairdreesers, escorts agencies, and Gay NGOs. There are gay friendly restaurants, a hotels and discotheques. Nightlife is best on weekends, and the trendy, slightly bohemian Mariscal district (area no bigger than 5 km2 Patria avenue and Orellana), is where you'll find the hot spots. The establishments in this area of the city are requested to close at 2:30 AM, normally this request is not respected and establishments stay open untill dawn.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Avoid drawing people’s attention when you are in the streets, a bit of discretion is never bad.
  • Usually drunk people or large teenager groups are the trouble makers and the ones that discriminate and abuse homosexual the most.
  • As in most latin countries, effeminate behaviour in men is condemned, and the derogatory term “maricón” is commonly used to describe such a person, irrespective of their sexual orientation.
  • Same-sex couples travelling in Ecuador should avoid public displays of affection.
  • Outside Quito and Guayaquil the two largest cities, values are still intensely conservative and there remains a general bias, even hostility, against gay people.
 
 
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