Currency: US dollar (USD)
Calling Code: +593
Ecuador, officially called the Republic of Ecuador, is an American country located in South America. It limits to the north with Colombia, to the south and to the east with Peru and to the west with the Pacific Ocean, which separates it from the Galapagos Islands, located at 1000 kilometers, from Puntilla de Santa Elena to San Cristóbal Island. A volcanic section of the Andes mountain range divides the territory from north to south, leaving on its western flank the Gulf of Guayaquil and a wooded plain, and to the east, the Amazon. Ecuador occupies an area of 283,561 km², making it the fourth smallest country in the subcontinent, although to give a perspective, its extension is greater than that of the United Kingdom. It is the tenth most populated country in America, with just over 16 million inhabitants, the most densely populated in South America and the fifth in the continent.
Administratively, Ecuador is divided into 19 provinces.
Topographically, the country of Ecuador can be divided into three regions:
At 80,000 km², the coastal region on the Pacific and in western Ecuador covers around a third of the country's area.
El Oro Esmeraldas Guayas Los Rios Manabi
With an area of approx. 44,000 km², the central highlands of the Andes have a little less than a fifth of the total area of Ecuador. The region consists of two cordillera ranges, the cordillera real and the cordillera occidental, separated by the interandean graben. Quito, the country's capital, is located just a few degrees south of the equator in the Inter-Andean Trench. In the Sierra there are world-famous volcanoes such as the Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Altar, Cayambe.
Azuay Bolivar Cañar Carchi Chimborazo Cotopaxi Imbabura Pichincha
The rainforest area in the east of the country, which borders the Amazon basin, covers almost half the area of Ecuador with around 120,000 km².
Morona Santiago Napo Orellana Pastaza Zamora Chinchipe
A fourth region of Ecuador are the islands in the Pacific, belonging to Ecuador, and with a fascinating wildlife. The archipelago consists of 13 larger, 6 smaller and a few dozen tiny islands with a total area of 7900km².
1 Quito – The capital of the country, interesting for tourists,
UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.
2 Ambato – city of flowers. Known for its carnival parades.
3 Bahia de Caraquez - Coastal town that gets its charm from the fact that it can only be reached by ferry/small boat.
4 Baños – Tourist center at the active volcano Tungurahua commons.
5 Cuenca – third largest city in Ecuador, capital of the province of Azuay in the southern Andes, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6 Guayaquil – the country's largest city on the coast, dominated by industry.
7 Latacunga – Provincial capital of Cotopaxi. Famous for the "Mama Negra Festival" which takes place in November.
8 Otavalo – City in the north of Quito. The Otavaleños are world famous for their handicrafts (textiles).
Cajas National Park is small, but picturesque nature reserve that is located in the highlands of Ecuador.
Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve is a nature reserve situated 60 miles Northeast of Quito in Ecuador. It covers a total area of 914,270 acres.
Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve is located in Guayas Province and protects an unique and diverse biosphere of the mangrove forests.
Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve is a protected mountainous area situated in the Imbabura Province. It covers a total area of 752,235 acres.
Cotopaxi National Park protects an area around volcano Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the World.
Cueva de los Tayos or 'cave of the oilbirds' is a large underground natural system in the Morona Santiago province in the Andes mountains of Ecuador.
Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is a protected area located in Sucumbios Province in Ecuador. The nature reserve covers an area of 6,033.8 sq km.
Galápagos Islands became World famous after Charles Darwin visited this group of islands.
Limoncocha National Biological Reserve is a natural reserve located in Napo Province of Ecuador. This nature reserves covers an area of 13,000 acres.
Llanganates National Park is a large nature reserve in Cotopaxi, Napo, Pastaza, Tungurahua Provinces.
Machalilla National Park is a protected area situated in Manabí Province of Ecuador. It covers a total area of 751 sq km.
Podocarpus National Park is an area located in Loja and Zamora Chinchipe Provinces in Ecuador. This national park covers an area of 146,280 sq km.
Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is located 17 km (10 mi) North from Quito, in Pichincha Province of Ecuador. It covers a total area of 3383 hectares in northwestern part of the Pomasqui Valley.
Yasuní National Park is a protected biosphere located in Napo and Pastaza Provinces in Ecuador. This national park covers an area of 9,820 sq km.
Depending on the statistics, up to around 90% of the country's
inhabitants belong to the Roman Catholic Church, although very few
actually practice their Catholic faith.
Among the country's intellectuals, it is considered modern to distance themselves from the official Catholic Church.
About 5-10% of the population belong to non-Catholic Christian denominations, including Protestant sects with a mostly US background. These sects, called "Evangelicos" or "Pentecostales", are very popular with the lower classes of the population because of their sometimes aggressive missionary work and therefore often do not have a good reputation in the established circles of society. As a Protestant European Christian, it may be better to refer to yourself as "luterano" to distinguish yourself from the "evangelicos".
Although the indigenous peoples of the Andes were Christianized after the Conquista in the 16th century, they have never given up their own beliefs since then, instead mixing them with Christian beliefs (syncretism), and the local traditions are currently experiencing an upswing. The festival of Pachamama (mother earth as the central force in everything) at the beginning of August with the blood of sacrificial animals is at the center of the revival of old traditions, and with the increasing shamanism there is also a pronounced belief in spirits and superstition.
In general, however, religion and faith have a very high social status in the population of Latin America, which is expressed in the almost naive veneration of saints and images of the Virgin Mary and in a large number of religious processions and pagan rites.
The history of Ecuador is old and extremely changeable, numerous
different phases can be clearly distinguished from each other.
The pre-Inca period begins with the oldest human traces in the period 16,000 to 18,000 years ago, the largest site is El Inga near Quito. In the Formative Period (from 3500 - 600 BC) the first cultures worth mentioning emerged (Valdivia culture, from 3500 BC, the Machalilla and La Tolita culture, from 1000 BC) with many smaller and independent tribal areas between the empires of the Chimu (from 1250 AD) in the south and that of the Chibcha in the north.
The Inca period begins in the 12th century (AD) and reached its peak towards the end of the 15th century, when the population of what is now Ecuador was completely controlled by the Incas. In 1532 Atahualpa overthrew his stepbrother and actual heir to the throne Huáscar in Cuzco after a civil war that had destabilized the entire Inca Empire. Their father, Huayna Cápac, died around 1527 from smallpox, which had been brought in by the Europeans.
In the same year, 1532, the Conquista (conquistador) in South America begins with the landing of Francisco Pizarro on the Peruvian coast. The Inca Empire, weakened by the civil war and by the epidemics brought in by the Europeans, was brutally and ruthlessly conquered with robbery, murder and plundering. On November 15, 1532 Atahualpa was captured by the Spaniards and on July 26, 1533 in Cajamarca after a show trial executed. Atahualpa's supreme general and at the same time the last Inca to defend himself against the Spaniards was Rumiñahui. On June 17, 1534 he burned down Quito in order not to have to hand over the capital of the northern Inca Empire to the attacking Spaniards, de facto the end of the Inca Empire.
The year 1534 with the reestablishment of Quito on December 6 under Sebastián de Benalcázar is also considered the beginning of the colonial era. The European Spaniards controlled the Andean region from then until the early 19th century. As a forerunner of today's Ecuador, the administrative district "Real Audiencia de Quito" existed in colonial times; it belonged to the Viceroyalty of Peru or to the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada ('Colombia') with indeterminate status and borders.
The unbridgeable gap between the European colonial masters on the one hand and the local population, including the privileged upper class of landowners, on the other hand led to the wars of liberation: on August 10, 1809, the region of present-day Ecuador was the first country to declare its independence from Spain Uprising lasted from 1809 to 1825, South American folk hero Simón Bolívar led the independence movement.
With the victory of the insurgents in the famous Battle of Pichincha on May 24, 1822 and under Antonio José de Sucre, the colonial era in the region is considered to be over. Greater Colombia was already founded on December 17, 1819. Simón Bolívar was president from 1822, the area included today's countries of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, and in 1826 Peru was also liberated.
Even before Bolívar's death on December 17, 1830, Greater Colombia dissolved again, today's political state emerged, the capital of the Republic of Ecuador, which was newly founded on September 23, 1830, was initially Riobamba. The period of republic from 1830 is also quite changeable and characterized by internal and external instability: A military dictatorship is followed by rapid changes of government with a military putsch or civil coup d’état about every eighteen months and with 22 presidents alone for the period from 1912 to 1932. Ecuador was already a proverbial banana republic before the start of banana production. One of the consequences of the uncertain balance of power was the considerable loss of land in the first half of the last century after wars with neighboring countries were lost.
The years from 1934 to 1972 were the period of the dictator José María Velasco Ibarra, since 1979 Ecuador has been a presidential democracy with a federal character.
For travelers from the EU, Switzerland and Turkey, a passport that is still valid for at least 6 months is required for a stay of up to 90 days. A German ID card and a German child ID card will not be accepted. As of July 22, 2018, proof of health insurance is required for all travelers. A visa is not required for these groups of people. Upon entry, a customs declaration will be handed out, which must be filled out and returned upon departure. A minimum amount of money for the intended stay in the country may be checked. For the stay in the country it is then absolutely advisable to have at least one copy of the passport, which is generally accepted as a passport substitute for tourists. The original passport can then remain theft-proof in the hotel safe.
A return ticket and an entry form are required to enter the Galápagos Islands. At a
A violation of the Ecuadorian right of residence must be expected with a sensitive fine of at least 200 US dollars.
Vaccinations for entry are not required. A diphtheria/tetanus/polio vaccination is generally recommended. For the coastal region and the Oriente on the Amazon, vaccinations against hepatitis A + B as well as against yellow fever and malaria prophylaxis are recommended.
Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for all visitors to the Ecuadorian rainforest (Orellana and Sucumbios provinces). A yellow fever vaccination is also mandatory when entering the country from an affected region, e.g. B. from Brazil.
See also the website of the German Foreign Office.
Animals require a health certificate confirming that they are free of diseases (veterinary certificate, documents certified by a veterinarian).
Dogs must also be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and leptospirosis and must have been dewormed (endo- and ectoparasites).
Rabies vaccination and deworming is required for cats.
The international airports for Ecuador are Guayaquil (GYE) and Quito Airport (UIO), which opened in 2013. Arriving from Europe requires a change in Madrid (Iberia, Air Europa), Paris (Airfrance), Amsterdam (KLM), Panama (Lufthansa, Copa), Bogotá (Lufthansa, Avianca) or via the USA.
From Switzerland: With Lufthansa via Frankfurt am Main to Bogotá or Caracas, Venezuela. Also possible with Iberia via Madrid or with KLM via Amsterdam.
From Germany (total flight time around 15 hours):
with Lufthansa there are codeshare flights with a connection in Bogotá or Panama to Quito.
with United via New York-Newark, Washington or Houston to Quito.
with Iberia via Madrid to Quito (partly with a stopover of one hour in the Dominican Republic).
with KLM via Amsterdam to Quito and Guayaquil (with a short stopover on Bonaire)
with British Airways via London to Miami. From there, American Airlines offers direct flights to Ecuador. Or with Copa Airlines via Panama (1 hour stay) or via Bogotá or Caracas with various airlines.
with Air France via Paris and Bogotá to Quito
with Condor via Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico and Panama to Quito
Amercian offers connections through Miami
There is no train line to get to Ecuador.
There are international intercity bus connections from Peru, Colombia and Venezuela to Ecuador. However, travel times are often in excess of 36 hours when driving directly to/from Quito. For bus travelers, connections from/to the border area are recommended (frequent bus changes at the border, crossing the border on foot).
Ecuador can be reached from both Peru and Colombia via the Panamericana. For details on land border crossings, see the relevant sections in the articles of these two countries.
Because of the extreme traffic conditions, it is not advisable for inexperienced Central Europeans to drive in South America: the difficulties of the southern chaotic traffic add to the breakneck driving style, which even double-drawn dashes do not even respect as a recommendation. The main routes of the road network are similar to those of the Autobahn. The roads are in excellent condition by Latin American standards. See also the mobility section.
There are domestic flights to all major cities operated by Ecuadorian
airlines Aerogal, Icaro and Tame. Prices for a flight start at US$ 50
In the second half of the last century, the railway lines of Ecuador were exposed to a strong decline, at times they only existed as a tourist attraction. For several years, however, there have been intensive efforts to restore various railway lines for industrial purposes. In the meantime, all parts of the route Quito - Duran (near Guayaquil) have been restored and are used again.
Since 2013, the line of the Andean railway Ferrocarril Transandino (main line, southern line) has again been used continuously by the Tren Crucero tourist train from Guayaquil on the coast via Riobamba to Quito as the terminus in the highlands.
There is a train from Riobamba to Alausi twice a week. The price is only US$11 for five hours of stunning scenery. Locomotive derailments on steep slopes due to loose rails are not uncommon. However, the train crew has everything ready to hand and the train is back on the tracks within an hour.
The most famous section is between Alausi and Sibambe, past the Nariz del Diablo. Here the train travels along hairpin bends directly along the steep rock face. Around 100 meters in altitude are covered over a few meters.
Detailed information can also be found in the railways in Ecuador topic article.
The bus is THE means of transportation in Ecuador, the buses are in good condition. You can get everywhere with it and there are very many and frequent connections.
The bus stations are generally quite large areas and therefore quite confusing at first. Any buses come from somewhere, park somewhere and go somewhere again. The locals, who know their way around, are happy to help. You can also recognize the right bus by the destination signposted in large letters on the windscreen.
Each bus company has its own counter at the larger bus stations, sometimes even separate counters for each destination. However, smaller bus stations are often nothing more than a sandy area without any infrastructure. Most of the time there are taxi ranks, but not always.
For longer distances from larger cities, you can buy tickets at the counter, otherwise directly on the bus. The tickets usually contain numbered reservations for the respective bus. If you want to sit quietly, never choose the front seats when buying, because both local short-haul travelers and the numerous hawkers jostle in front of and between these seats - the buses have the only door at the front.
Bus fares: Approx. $1.00 for an hour's ride, including insurance in the event of an accident.
The most important long-distance bus lines between the neighboring cities are often served every hour or every two hours during the day, smaller cities and towns are then served less often by the long-distance buses, but here the regional buses also run several times a day during the day.
In the case of overland journeys, a stopover is then made as required and without a fixed stop to place or pick up people: you can hitch a ride with the bus. However, if the bus is already overcrowded beforehand, it may just keep going and you can wait for the next one.
Due to the many bad roads, numerous curves and the overcoming of large differences in height in the bus, sensitive natures should take travel tablets with them. delays, e.g. B. by punctures, can occur when traveling by bus in Ecuador - the cause is also the often poor road conditions.
It is recommended not to ride the buses at night as there have been a number of robberies. There are safe night buses, where you pay a little more, but you should travel safely, it is best to get information on the spot.
Don't forget your passport (original) on a bus trip, there may be controls. Crowded public transport is always a popular target for pickpockets.
In the street
Chauffeuring a car in Ecuador is hardly recommended for travelers. Although there are car rental companies at the airports and in the cities, the traffic conditions are difficult to say the least. Almost all interurban roads are unpaved for long stretches and have enormous potholes that can cause serious damage to the vehicle if you drive through them carelessly. Road markings, crash barriers and similar safety measures are not common, so driving in poor visibility is a serious adventure - especially in the Andes, where there are quite deep slopes next to the road. In addition, local drivers tend to risky overtaking maneuvers on winding roads - accidents are not uncommon.
2014: More and more main roads are being expanded, often even with 4 or 6 lanes.
Traffic rules, such as giving way at intersections, are not always readily apparent, and local drivers then interpret any existing signaling systems very differently: if you drive at night, e.g. In Quito, for example, when the traffic light turns green, you should still check whether a local simply ignores the red light when traffic is light. The horn on the vehicle is much more important as a means of communication than in Central Europe.
Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for driving to smaller towns, in order to be able to cope with the even worse road conditions there, as well as slopes and river crossings.
The risks of individual transport are offset by the manageable costs for bus trips, domestic flights or taxi rides. These means of transport usually represent the more relaxed form of transportation.
Construction sites, even with temporary road closures for the construction work, are common on all roads in Ecuador. Here it can be useful to obtain information in advance for time-critical journeys.
For experienced and accomplished drivers, the car can be driven on any reasonably passable road, e.g. B. in the Andes and in the Oriente, but definitely an option.
The condition of the vehicles would occasionally make every German TÜV inspector's hair stand on end, but from the vehicle owner's point of view it is often important that the car drives, more than that is luxury.
Serious accidents, including fatal ones, are unfortunately quite common compared to Europe because of the unsafe vehicles, the often undisciplined driving style and the poor road conditions.
Gasoline is cheap in Ecuador, the price for a US gallon (3.8 litres) is less than $2, which means that the liter costs less than 40 cents. The reason for the low price of petrol is the country's own oil production in the Amazon region and the neighboring state of Venezuela with its oil industry. Saving energy is not an issue in Ecuador.
A "Camioneta" is a pick-up that can also be rented as a taxi with a driver. Outside of the cities, pick-ups are the cheapest and most common means of transport as people and goods transport vehicles throughout Ecuador and are always well occupied, often overloaded to heavily overloaded. Because of the ground clearance and equipped with all-wheel drive, the Camionetas are particularly off-road and can also be used on exhausted routes in the mountains.
If you want to be picked up, simply stick your hand out as a "hitchhiker", get on or in the back, at your destination you knock on the driver's cab, get out and pay. The price is always cheaper than in the bus or even a taxi.
School children, goods, animals and tourists are transported in this way. Renting a camioneta is also a cheap way to reach remote mountain regions without a bus connection.
Taxis in Ecuador are cheap. It is (actually never! ;-)) driven with a taximeter (which would actually be obligatory) or a price is agreed upon at the beginning. However, the taximeter can also be a better choice as it is extremely cheap (runs unexpectedly slowly). At night, a ride (no matter how short) costs at least $2. Without a taximeter you can get about 1km far in big cities with 1$, outside you can get about 2km far.
Nevertheless, it is important, especially in taxis, to be careful not to be ripped off. It is best to negotiate the fare before you drive: as long as the taxi driver takes you, the price is fair.
In Quito, it is compulsory for taxi drivers to use the taximeter during the day. The amount is usually rounded up at the end.
The official language is Spanish, but there are also languages spoken
by the Indian population, especially Kichwa (a Quechua variant).
A simple English is understood by the relevant professional groups in the tourism sector, not otherwise. German is generally not understood.
It is a great advantage if you can speak Spanish, because even in larger towns, at airports or in hotels, the people you are talking to often do not speak English.
As in other countries in the world, people are happy if you speak to them in the local language and thus in Spanish: a Buenos Dias (in the morning), Buenas Tardes' (afternoon) and Buenas Noches (in the evening) helps immediately all language barriers. As a result, you quickly start a conversation, even with just your hands and fingers: even with just a few words of Spanish, people are always happy to help you further.
The most important sport in Ecuador, as in all of South America, is
football (Fútbol). The teams are organized in the FEF (Federación
Ecuatoriana de Fútbol), the football association was founded in 1925.
The national team of Ecuador has recently had some international
successes, for example it was quite successful in qualifying for the
2014 World Cup against strong South American competition, and in 2006 in
Germany Ecuador was a participant in the World Cup. From a European
perspective, the football fans are fanatical. When the national team
games are televised, every bar with a public TV is completely
overcrowded, and the atmosphere ranges from enthusiastic to heated.
The question about the number two sport in the country is also answered by an Ecuadorian with "Fútbol".
When asked about sport number three, the answer comes: "Ecuavolley" (Ecuavóley), to which the Ecuadorian adds: This is a country-specific type of volleyball that is played with a soccer ball, and the net is a little higher.
Mountaineering (Montañismo) and mountain hiking is becoming increasingly popular, and around the tourist infrastructure for foreign visitors, the sport is increasingly practiced by locals.
See also the Hiking and Mountaineering section of the Highlands article for more details.
There is no skiing (Esquí alpino) on well-kept ski slopes in the country.
Mountain biking (Ciclismo de montaña) is also on the rise, but the associated infrastructure with designated routes is still in its infancy, with a focus on the tourist centers. One of the best-known bike tours in the country is the "Waterfall Route" through the Pastaza Canyon near Baños. Bicycles can be hired in the big cities and in various tourist resorts. There are already a few marked cycle routes, but these often run on dangerous roads for cars and trucks. Bicycles as a pure means of transport in the city streets are very rare, just like real cycle paths.
Rafting and kayaking is offered by various agencies (Raftingecuador, Riosecuador).
The official currency in Ecuador has been the US dollar since 2000.
This eliminates the hassle of converting. Only small denominations are
usual: even $10 bills are accepted only reluctantly outside of tourist
centers, if at all, so it is advisable to keep some small change on
hand. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos, which correspond
to the dimensions of their American counterparts.
There are no officially regulated shop opening times. In general, the shops open in the morning from 9:00 a.m. and close around 7:00 p.m. during the week and usually at 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The smaller shops are often open until midnight. The large shopping centers and supermarkets are usually also open on Sundays and until 8 p.m.
At the markets, no prices are marked on the goods, negotiating the price is part of the shopping ritual, a 10-20% discount should always be included, because the “Precio de Gringo” is widespread. In the shops, the prices are fixed and not negotiated, but they are never actually labeled in the window display either.
There is a wide range of food and shopping options:
Supermarkets correspond to the Central European standard in terms of selection, but they are expensive in comparison to other countries, with imported branded goods from Europe often costing twice or three times as much as in the country of origin.
Minimarkets are smaller grocery stores in large numbers on busy city streets and also in smaller towns with a selection of local produce. These smaller markets are generally quite reasonably priced and significantly cheaper than what you are used to in Europe.
Street vendors and street stalls usually offer edible items such as fruit or fried foods. The price here is in the $1 range, e.g. B. for a pack of tangerines, water or other fruits.
Despite their name, they come from Ecuador, above all from the two centers of Montecristi near Manta and Cuenca, or from Campeche in Mexico. The former are usually more traditionally handcrafted products and can be had for around US$20 at best. Better qualities, i. H. made of finer fibers, can cost up to US$1000. There are numbered but not standardized grades for this. The higher the number, the better and more expensive: 14-16 is “fino”, 20-25 “extrafino”, above that up to 40 “superfino”. In Cuenca they produce more for the mass market, a large part of the exported hats come from there. If you are offered hats for US$ 10-15 in the country, you can be sure that they are machine-made imitations “Made in China”. The artisanal production was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2012.
jewelry and handicrafts
Corozo nuts, Spanish "Tagua" are 4-8cm in size and resemble ivory in appearance. Small pieces of jewelry are carved from them. Since it is organic material, insect infestation is possible.
Balsa grows mainly in the region around Quevedo. Works carved from it are common.
In the 1990s, music groups playing panpipes were present in every central European pedestrian zone. If you want to buy one of their instruments, ask for a “rondador.”
The products made of llama or alpaca wool that are offered in all souvenir shops are mostly imported from Peru, or mixed with other fibers such as sheep's wool.
In Ecuador, rice with chicken (Sierra) or rice with fish or seafood
(Costa) is the most common dish. In addition, Ecuadorians are fanatics
for coriander (note!), which adorns everything from soups and salads to
traditional dishes such as ceviche (seafood in lemon sauce) and
encocado. The Cuy (guinea pig), which is mentioned in almost every
travel guide, should be eaten in a specialized restaurant if you want to
try it. It is usually grilled and served with a peanut sauce. The meat
is very fatty and tastes more like chicken than rabbit (as one might
expect). Make sure the head is still attached to make sure you're
actually getting a guinea pig. By the way, breeding guinea pigs are huge
compared to our pets.
The selection of fruits is spectacular, as is the selection at the juice bar. However, in many places in small restaurants away from the big tourist resorts you can only order exotic-looking sugared lemonades (e.g. strawberry flavor), cola or mineral water.
The usual restaurants and fast food outlets such as McDonald's, KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut can also be found in the large cities of Ecuador. The food courts of the shopping centers are also particularly exclusive. A popular local snack, aside from the already mentioned ceviche, is fritadas, pieces of pork stewed in their own juice, which you can buy in small (or larger) fritaderias practically everywhere. Also local are chains like Gus (similar to KFC) or TropiBurger.
If you don't have an overly sensitive stomach, you can eat very cheaply in the markets. An almuerzo (lunch) or a merienda (dinner) costs between US$1 and US$3 and includes soup, a main course and a drink, and sometimes a small dessert.
Never buy cream ice cream off the street! Better to buy ice cream in a heladería. In addition to Pingüino (Ecuadorian offshoot of Langnese), the ice cream shops on Av. Guaytambos in Ambato (opposite the Colegio Santo Domingo) with their fruit and multi-layered ice cream should be recommended.
Coriander: A bit unusual for Central European palates: the coriander (culantro) is traditional and one of the most used condiments in Ecuador. The kitchen herb is often added to meat, often not very sparingly, stirred into soups and sauces and also mixed into almost everything else. One or the other finds the taste unpleasant: if you have not gotten used to the coriander even after a long stay in the country, you can order a coriander-free meal with sin culantro por favor.
Beer (cerveza) is a common and popular drink throughout Ecuador:
There is only one major brewery worth mentioning in all of Ecuador with a tradition that goes back more than 100 years, and that is Cerveceria Nacional S.A., in Guayaquil, a subsidiary of SABMiller based in England (the world's second largest brewery group). "Pilsener" and "Club Premium Lager" are brewed, the bottles are available in sufficient numbers in every shop in the country. The taste does not hold any negative surprises, the beer from Ecuador can also be drunk by a German palate spoiled with beer.
The market for beer from small breweries is now booming. The products of the largest small brewery are called "Latitud Cero" and are made with hops from Bavarian Holledau. The result is very tasty, but unfortunately also much more expensive than the beer made from national ingredients. The Helle "Concordia" actually tastes like a beer produced in Munich.
Wine does not play a major role in cultivation and tradition in Ecuador:
What is there are only a few hundred hectares of cultivated area, they are spread over the Pacific coast with up to three possible wine harvests here, and also on some smaller areas in the highlands, because of the proximity to the equator, despite the altitude, wine growing is still possible. Towards the end of the last century, Hermann Jäger from Ockenheim am Rhein and former President of the Rheinhessian Winegrowers Association planted vines in the Sierra at an altitude of 2,700 meters. However, the further development of this vineyard is unknown.
A selection of imported wines, mainly from Chile, is available on supermarket shelves.
Colada Morada: The colada morada is a thick drink made from grains, blackberries and other fruits. The popular Ecuadorian specialty is mainly drunk on Día de los Difuntos (All Souls' Day) in November.
Fruit juices: Juices made from fresh fruit such as B. Naranjilla, papaya, passion fruit, blackberry, mango. The freshly squeezed fruit juice is mixed with water and sweetened.
In general, spirits are a problem throughout Ecuador: cheap schnapps or "home-made" often leads to excessive alcohol consumption and addiction, together with poverty and the social problems of the population. Religious and other festivals often develop overnight into a binge with schnapps. There are also repeated deaths from the consumption of cheap and moonlighting alcohol (methyl alcohol).
Branded spirits imported from Europe and the US are available on supermarket shelves, albeit at around three times the price of the countries of origin.
Puntas (also Puros or Cañas) is sugar cane liquor with a high alcohol content of 50-60%, in its pure form up to 98%. It is drunk pure or mixed with water, juice, raisins and tangerine peel or herbs.
Canelazo is a type of hot punch made from thickly boiled naranjilla juice, sugar, and spices such as cinnamon (canela) and cloves with a moderate alcohol content (20-30%, but in some cases significantly more). The alcohol that makes up about half of the canelazo is usually aguadiente, a sugar cane liquor.
Anisados corresponds to the aniseed schnapps that is also available in Europe and has a medium alcohol content (approx. 30-35%
The exclusive Cacaoyere chocolate is made from the cocoa grown in the Pichincha province.
Quito has the legendary party district, La Mariscal, also known as Gringolandia because of its high percentage of tourists (gringos are actually just the North Americans, but in this case all tourists are meant). There are many bars and discos in the Mariscal and there is always something going on. It is therefore relatively safe to stay there at night. Only take the most necessary cash with you and always take a taxi home. But you don't have to be afraid at all. As a girl, at most in front of annoying admirers who you have to get rid of (but they never get too pushy, they are great dancers and usually don't get "hands on").
Hostal (hostales in the plural) is a common term throughout the Spanish-speaking world for a hotel of a simpler standard and cheaper room rates. Hostales are mostly family-run businesses and are not part of hotel chains. However, minimum standards such as room TV, change of towels, daily room cleaning are met and services such as a laundry connection for private clothes or public Internet access are mostly available.
There are around 60 universities in Ecuador. The most important
locations are first Quito and Guayaquil and then Rioabamba, Cuenca,
Latacunga and some other provincial capitals.
There are countless language schools in Quito. You can quickly find something suitable. Price: about five dollars a single hour.
Crime in Ecuador corresponds to the South American average and is
therefore very high from a European point of view. The focus is on
theft, violence, muggings and sex crimes, especially at night.
There is a high risk of pickpocketing in busy places, in crowds and on public transport. In the late evening, the side streets should be avoided, especially in the big cities, as there is an increased risk of robberies. The risk is exacerbated for individuals.
Regional focal points of crime are the metropolises of Guayaquil and Quito as well as the border region with Colombia.
In the event of an attack, resistance is strongly discouraged due to the perpetrator's readiness to use violence. Only what you bring with you can be stolen: a few dollars is always enough for an evening in Ecuador. Smartphones, jewelry or an expensive watch are always a highly attractive target for thieves and robbers.
See also the website of the German Foreign Office.
Boil, Peel or Discard:
Eating off the street should be avoided, especially in the lower-lying regions of the country.
Throughout the country you should be careful with water from the tap. Drinkable water (also for brushing your teeth) is available in cheap plastic bottles and in almost every shop, from the grocery store to the bakery and right up to the pharmacy.
An exception to this rule is Cuenca. There the tap water comes directly from the nature reserve "El Cajas" and is treated with modern technology. The result is some of the best drinking water in South America. But here, too, you should exercise some caution, because the water pipes are not up to date everywhere.
Salads and non-disinfected, raw vegetables (parasites and bacteria!) should also be consumed with caution. You should also be careful with the jugos ("chugos" = juices), some of which are diluted with tap water that has not been boiled. Take a close look, especially on the coast: If you stand by while the fruit is being squeezed and see that nothing is being added or water from a freshly opened canister, you shouldn't miss out on this pleasure - and then it should go well. Nevertheless, be sure to take tablets against diarrhea with you!
In general, the requirements with regard to dietary regulations in the Sierra (highlands) are not quite as strict because of the significantly lower temperatures here and therefore less germ formation.
The health authority has done a very good job in recent years and is in the process of examining restaurants for hygiene (as of August 2016). In upscale restaurants and those with the "A" award, you can let yourself be pampered without hesitation.
The climate of Ecuador varies greatly according to the diversity of
See the corresponding comments on the Costa (coastal region, tropically humid), Sierra (highlands, temperate) and Oriente (Amazon region, warm and humid).
Rainer Lißewski: The climate in Costa, Sierra and Oriente of Ecuador. Grin, 2006, ISBN 9783638510264; 10 pages.
In general, the population of the country is very open to foreigners
and tourism, courteous and immediately helpful even without direct
contact on their own initiative: The average Central European is of
course immediately recognized by the Ecuadorian by his general
appearance and certainly by his skin color, the locals are happy then ,
if they are approached by the visitor and can help out with their
The correct term for the indigenous people of Ecuador is "Indígenas" and Indígena in the singular. The term "Indio" has a demeaning and discriminating character in the self-esteem of the indigenous people.
Basically, the locals are very proud and therefore also very honest: to change the 10-$ note, the tourist is left alone in the shop by the shopkeeper without any scruples, the high crime rate from a European point of view is a poverty problem.
Freedom of panorama applies in Ecuador: everything that can be photographed from public transport routes may be photographed and published without special permission.
Police officers and military or strategically important facilities may not be photographed.
It's a matter of courtesy: before photographing people, always get their permission, or in the case of children, their parents' permission. The indigenous people in particular are aware of their value as a photo motif and expect a small tip. And after a tip, the photographer also gets much friendlier faces.
Modern digicams (replacement devices in the event of a defect) are available in the big cities and in electronics stores there, accessories such as memory cards or (standard) batteries are also available in smaller and medium-sized towns. Electrical supplies as standard goods, and SD cards for cameras are often available in Internet cafes, even in smaller towns.
The state post office was privatized at the end of February 2021.
Parcels should be sent directly from the post offices in Ecuador, most securely via the main post office in Quito.
Deutsche Post: DHL for Ecuador, a branch is located in La Mariscal (Quito).
The international dialing code for Ecuador is 00593.
The area codes for the regions in the country are:
(0)3 Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Pastaza, Chimborazo and Bolivar
(0)5 Galapagos, Los Rios and Manabi
(0)6 Carchi, Esmaraldas, Imbabura, Napo, Orellana and Sucumbios
(0)7 Azuay, Canar, El Oro, Loja, Morona Santiago and Zamora
The leading zero of the regional code should be omitted when calling from abroad (with an international code). The area code is followed by a seven-digit extension.
Example international dialing for Quito: 00593 for Ecuador + 2 for the province of Pichincha + the seven-digit telephone number of the extension.
Telephone booths (cabinas) are sufficiently available in cities and towns (Internet cafes), the average price per minute in the fixed network of Ecuador is cheap and is in the cent range.
International dialing code from Ecuador to Germany is 0049, to Austria 0043 and to Switzerland 0041.
Cell phones in Ecuador use 850 MHz. This means that only four-band cell phones work from D. The modern mobile phone networks (mobile Internet GSM - 2G, UMTS - 3G and LTE etc.) are currently being set up.
The area coverage of the networks is good even in small towns, but in purely rural regions without settlements and in the mountains cell phone reception cannot be expected without further ado: there is still radio silence here.
Very few of the German and European wireless network providers have an agreement with Ecuador, so that it is generally not possible to use the networks in Ecuador. Prepaid mobile phone cards for the radio networks in Ecuador are available for $5 without further proof.
Mobile area codes are (0)99 - (0)98 - (0)97 - (0)96 depending on the phone company.
Internet cafes are also available in smaller places with a sufficient data transfer rate, price per hour around $0.70 and more.
WiFi (WLAN) is often available free of charge in tourist hotels and in larger towns. (Last updated 2012)
If possible, visits to offices and authorities should be postponed to
Drug consumption and carried drugs, even in small amounts for personal use, as well as drug trafficking are strictly prohibited in Ecuador and are sometimes punished with long prison terms (up to 35 years in prison).
Coca tea (“Mate de Coca”) in commercial tea bags and dried coca leaves from the coca bush, a native crop, are perfectly legal and cheap to buy in regular shops across the country and are considered ritualistic natural drugs in Ecuador. In Ecuador, coca tea is considered "good for everything", although the active ingredient content of cocaine is very low, so that you would have to drink the tea by the liter to achieve an intoxicating effect. Coca tea does not have a special flavor, it tastes more like hay or grass. Coca leaves are chewed by the local Indians together with the alkaline active ingredient potash (potash salt) as a stimulant, potash significantly increases the effect of the intoxicating substances. It is often argued that chewing coca leaves helps combat altitude sickness because it is said to improve oxygen uptake. A scientific study as proof of this effect is not known.
The import of coca tea or coca leaves is prohibited in the countries of Europe and North America and is generally a punishable offence, the import to Germany is a violation of the Narcotics Act. Coca tea or coca leaves are therefore out of the question as souvenirs.
The voltage in Ecuador is 110 V. This means that modern power supplies for mobile phones etc. can usually be used directly if the device is marked accordingly ("110-220 V"). Older devices and still equipped with a transformer (usually heavier in terms of weight) can only be used if expressly stated accordingly.
Mechanically, a plug with two flat contacts is also required (like the US adapter), which is usually inexpensive at electronics discounters.
There are free-roaming dogs all over the country. They are not very snappy and, like their owners, are curious, friendly and open-minded towards visitors. You can quickly make friends with the street dogs and quickly - at least temporarily - have a new companion, but most of the time the animals already belong to an owner somewhere. The dogs generally look reasonably well fed and healthy, but worming is not mandatory for the native animals: After touching them, you should definitely wash your hands, as is generally the case. Because of rabies, there are regular campaigns all over the country in which street dogs are also systematically vaccinated. Bats are the main vector for rabies in Ecuador.
Unusual for Central Europeans: because of the generally narrow cross-section of the pipes in the sewer system and to avoid blockages, used toilet paper is not flushed away anywhere in Ecuador, but "collected" in special containers set up in the toilet.
January 1 - New Year.
March - Holy Week.
May 1 is Labor Day.
May 24 - Day of the Battle of Pichincha.
May 26 - Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
July 24 is Simon Bolivar Day.
August 10 - Independence Day.
November 2 is the Day of All the Faithful Departed.
December 25 - Christmas.
Located in northwestern South America, Ecuador is one of the most
diverse countries on earth geographically, topographically, climatically
and ethnically. Ecuador borders Colombia (590 km), Peru (1420 km) and
the Pacific Ocean. The total length of the country's borders is 2010
kilometers. At 283,561 km², the country's area is slightly larger than
that of Great Britain (244,140 km²). The country crossed by the equator
can be divided into four completely different geographical zones:
the western coastal area (Costa) consists of alluvial land and low coastal mountains and is dominated by the Río Guayas
the central Andes region (Sierra) includes two mountain ranges characterized by strong volcanism and the high valley in between
the eastern Amazon lowlands (Oriente) begins on the eastern slopes of the Andes and includes the sparsely populated Amazon basin
the Galapagos Islands lie 1000 km off the coast in the Pacific.
The Costa (coast) is the western part of Ecuador with an area of
around 80,000 km². About half of the Ecuadorians live in this quarter of
the country. The Costa consists of fertile alluvial plains and
undulating hilly landscapes about 500 km long and up to 200 km wide. The
coastal mountain range Cordillera Costanera, which is up to 800 m high,
runs through the Costa and merges into the Cordillera Chongón Colonche
mountain range in the province of Guayas. The southern Costa is
characterized by the river system of the 60 km long Río Guayas and its
tributaries Río Babahoyo and Río Daule, with more than 36,000 km² the
largest water catchment system on the South American Pacific coast.
The delta of the Río Guayas forms the largest natural harbor on South America's west coast. The annual discharge of the Guayas is more than 36 billion cubic meters. Further north, the Río Esmeraldas, the Río Cayapas and the Río Chone flow towards the Pacific and in the extreme south the Río Jubones. In terms of climate, the Costa can be divided into two regions, the border of which runs around Manta: the tropical-humid north and the semi-arid south. The reason for the division is the Antarctic Humboldt Current, which diverts westward from the South American coast into the Pacific at about 1 degree south latitude.
The country's Andean region is called the Sierra (Mountains) and is
more than 80,000 km² in size. In the past it was the most populated
region, today 38% of Ecuadorians live here. The Sierra consists of the
two mountain ranges Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Central (also:
Cordillera Oriental and rarely Cordillera Real) and the high valley in
between (sometimes called altiplano). The Cordillera Occidental is
generally lower, but is home to Ecuador's highest mountain, Chimborazo,
at 6263m. The highest mountain in the Cordillera Central is the almost
5900 m high Cotopaxi. The high valley is at an altitude of 1800 to 3200
m and is about 500 km long and 20-30 km wide and is home to a number of
medium-high inter-Andean mountains. Because of the brisk volcanism,
Alexander von Humboldt called the valley "Street of the Volcanoes". The
high valley is divided into eight basins (cuencas or hoyas) by mountain
blocks (nudos); other authors count up to twelve such cauldrons.
With the exception of Guaranda, all the major cities in the region are in such basins. The cuencas are named after rivers and places, namely (from north to south) the Río Chota (see Chota Valley), the Guayllabamba, the Río Pastaza, the Río Paute, the Río Chimbo, the town of Girón (or the town and River Yunguilla) and the Río Catamayo. In the Guayllabamba Basin lies Quito, the highest capital city in the world (before Sucre in Bolivia). In the south of Ecuador, the two cordilleras are less clearly distinguishable than in the center and in the north.
In the east of the country, the Oriente (East), lie the rainforests
of the Amazon basin. The region is almost 100,000 km² in size, but very
sparsely populated. As a result of the lost war against Peru in 1941/42,
Ecuador had to cede a 200,000 km² Amazon area (40% of the country's area
at the time) to its southern neighbor and lost access to the Amazon,
although this area had never been under effective state influence
The Oriente can be divided into the densely forested foothills of the Andes with the three volcanoes Sumaco, Pan de Azúcar and Reventador of the Galeras-Napo sub-cordillera and the lower (less than 400 m) and flat Amazon plain. All the rivers of the Oriente are tributaries of the Amazon. The most important of them are the 850 km long Napo, the Coca, the Pastaza, the Putumayo border river with Colombia and the Aguarico. At Agoyán, the Pastaza forms the largest waterfall in Ecuador with a drop of 60 meters. The climate of the region is humid-hot tropical climate.
The Galapagos Islands, officially called Archipiélago de Colón, are located about 1000 km from the mainland in the Pacific and form the fourth geographical zone of Ecuador. Similar to Hawaii, the islands are geologically very young (between 700,000 and 3 million years) and of oceanic-volcanic origin. That is, they never had contact with the mainland in their history. The total area of the archipelago, spread over 320 km, is more than 8000 km², more than half of which is on the main island of Isabela. In the northern part of the islands, exactly on the equator, lies the highest peak of the Galápagos Islands, the Wolf volcano (1707 m).
The climate of Ecuador is very diverse. The climate is characterized
on the one hand by strong regional temperature differences due to
different altitudes (0 to over 6000 m). On the other hand, the amounts
of precipitation are extremely different, due to differences in
topography and the Humboldt Current. Due to the proximity to the
equator, the temperature distribution is relatively even over the year.
Especially in the Sierra there are pronounced day-night temperature
The climatic differences are clear even within short distances. The north of the city of Quito is much warmer and drier than the south. The summit of Illiniza Sur is also glaciated, while the neighboring Illiniza Norte, which is practically the same height, is mostly snow-free. Along the elevation profile, a distinction is made in Ecuador between Tierra Caliente (up to 1000 m), Tierra Templada (up to 2000 m), Tierra Fría (up to 3000 m), Tierra Helada (up to 4800 m) and Tierra Nevada (above). Within the first three of these altitude sectors (up to 3000 m), the climate differs due to the very different amounts of precipitation, above all regions are rich in precipitation.
In the northern coastal region with a tropical monsoon climate there is a distinct rainy season from January to May. There is no pronounced rainy season in the Andean highlands, but the months from November to May are considered to be the rainiest. The rainy seasons are called "winter" and the dry seasons "summer", despite the slightly above-average average temperature.
In the southern coastal strip, rainfall is less than 250 mm per year. Up to 5000 mm of precipitation occurs on the western slopes of the Costa and even more than 6000 mm on the eastern slopes of the Oriente. In the Sierra, valley basins receive only 250–500 mm of rainfall a year, while elevations often exceed 2000 mm. Except at extreme altitudes above 4800 m, precipitation almost always falls as rain or hail.
As a country with large areas of tropical rainforest, intersected by
the two globally important biodiversity hotspots Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena
and Tropical Andes - which is located in the second most species-rich
megadiversity center on earth - and with one of the highest rates of
deforestation, Ecuador is the focus of global environmental protection
interests. Although the political will to protect the biosphere is
clearly evident, like most countries in the Global South, there is a
lack of the financial means and effective methods to effectively
implement such goals. Therefore, in the past, economic interests were
given priority when there were conflicts between nature conservation and
Among other things, this led to the oil spill in the northern Amazon lowlands of Ecuador, since the oil company Texaco (today Chevron Corporation) in particular did not take adequate precautions to protect the environment and worked largely unmolested by state bodies. There was a significant contamination of soil and water, which to this day has caused serious consequences for the environment and the health of the local population.
Since 2007, the Ecuadorian government has been making headlines with the proposal to forego oil production in the important Yasuní National Park (Amazon lowlands) if it would receive half of the expected profit from the international community for forest protection. The proposal became known as the Yasuní-ITT initiative. In 2008, the forward-looking state forest protection program "Programa Socio Bosque" (PSB) was launched: the state pays money to indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian communities as well as private forest owners who commit to long-term forest protection, thus offering them an alternative to illegal timber harvesting . The demand for the contracts that are currently being concluded for 20 years is high. Several countries (including Germany) had originally signaled their approval. Dirk Niebel, Development Aid Minister from 2009 to 2013, withdrew the promise and ignored any call on the subject.
Since 2010, the first successes of the appeal to the global community have become apparent: Some industrialized countries had agreed to provide the country with money for the protection of forests as part of the climate protection instrument REDD+. This is subject to strict conditions, which Ecuador was willing to meet. In 2011, 600,000 ha of forest could already be protected with funds from the PSB, but the need is around 4 million ha.
Despite global encouragement from environmentalists and human rights activists, President Rafael Correa had to declare the initiative a failure in 2013 because not even a fraction of the compensation amount was collected. In the same year, parliament decided to release oil production. At the beginning of October 2013, parliament approved the government's proposal to allow oil drilling subject to conditions by a vote of 108 against 25.
Since 2000, Ecuador has been exploiting the mineral resources in the south-eastern rainforest province of Morona-Santiago, which, despite the huge areas of primary rainforest that are worthy of protection, has not yet had any major protected areas. The interventions in nature provoked resistance from the indigenous population groups, in particular the Shuar resistance movement, which escalated in 2016. The government did not respond to the attempts by the indigenous umbrella organization CONFENIAE and the environmental organization Acción Ecológica to clarify the matter. The conflict has not yet been resolved; further large-scale interventions in the ecosystem are to be feared.
Ecuador is considered to be the most biodiverse country on earth. In
relation to the size of the country, there is an above-average number of
species. This is due to the geological conditions and the ocean
currents. The Andes separate the country into different faunal zones.
Together with Colombia, Ecuador is the only country in South America
that also has tropical rainforest on the Pacific coast. The Pacific
forests belong to the Chocò faunal region, the center of which is in
Colombia. Plants and animals in the Chocò are fundamentally different
from those of the Amazon region. The large Central American or Baird's
tapir (up to 300 kg) is found only on the Pacific side of the Andes. In
other respects too, the fauna and flora in the Chocò is more closely
related to Central America and less to Amazonia. Among the snakes there
is e.g. B. the prehensile-tailed lance viper (Bothriechis schlegelii)
only on the Pacific side. Above the forests there is a special zone in
the mountains called Páramo. Their characteristic plants are giant
ragweeds (Espeletia), which are locally called "Frailejones". This plant
has a palm-like habit and grows up to 4 meters high. It can snow in the
Páramo and at night temperatures always fall below zero degrees, in warm
weather temperatures rise to 15 degrees during the day. It is home to
the rare mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), whose world population is
said to have fallen below 1000 individuals; it is therefore rarer than
the Chinese panda bear. The mountain tapir is the "flagship" of
conservation in continental Ecuador. There are also condors, pumas and
spectacled bears. About 100 condors, the second largest flying bird on
earth after the albatross, are said to still live in Ecuador. In the
deep valleys of the Andes and in southern coastal provinces there are
thorn bushes and dry vegetation. Typical animals of these zones are
coati, ocelot and deer. The fauna and flora in the Oriente, the
Amazonian part of Ecuador, does not fundamentally differ from the
creatures in the primeval forests of Peru and Brazil. The lowland tapir
is found there as a third species of tapir. There are said to be around
100 jaguars left and freshwater dolphins can be found in the rivers. The
rare giant armadillo is hunted by the indigenous jungle dwellers, but
their main prey are the larger monkeys, such as howler monkeys and
The wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, on the other hand, is species-poor (a typical island phenomenon), but extremely rich in species that only occur there. In contrast, the individual numbers of the few species are high. Marine iguanas, land iguanas and giant tortoises are found in large populations on some islands.
Ecuador had 17.6 million inhabitants in 2020, making it one of the
medium-sized countries in South America. Annual population growth was
+1.5%. The median age of the population in 2020 was 27.9 years. The
number of births per woman was statistically 2.4 in 2020. The life
expectancy of the inhabitants of Ecuador from birth was 77.2 years in
2020 (women: 80, men: 74.5). The working population is a good four
The average population density is 54.4 inhabitants per km², giving Ecuador the highest population density in South America - more than Colombia, twice as much as Peru and six times as much as Bolivia. However, the unequal distribution and the strong urbanization make this figure relatively meaningless: in the Oriente, the population density is only 4 inhabitants per km². Population growth has declined in recent decades from about 3 percent a year - one of the highest rates in Latin America - to 1.5 percent, still one of the highest rates in South America.
Since the middle of the 20th century, the population migration from Sierra to Costa, which has been going on since the 1880s, has been superimposed by a second phenomenon: migration from rural areas to urban centers. The Sierra provinces' share of the total population has fallen from 58% to 38% since 1950, while that of Pichincha (whose capital is Quito) has risen from 12% to 17%. The population share of the Costa provinces increased from 40% to 51%, but Guayas (with Guayaquil) was solely responsible for the increase, whose share jumped from 18% to 31%; the other Costa provinces lost relative population. Despite rapid urbanization, Ecuador's urbanization rate is one of the lowest in South America at 61%, with only Paraguay and Guiana being less urbanized.
Very different population groups live in Ecuador, but it is difficult
to specify the size of each. As in the other Andean countries, the
proportion of the indigenous population is very high. On the one hand,
this can be explained by the dense settlement of indigenous populations
under the rule of the Incas. On the other hand, only Spaniards
immigrated to Ecuador, but hardly any other Europeans - unlike in
Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil or Chile.
The categories used "indigenous population", "mestizos" and "population of European descent" can hardly be statistically delimited, since the statistics are based on the self-identification of the respondents. The boundaries between the indigenous population and mestizos, i.e. common descendants of indigenous people and people from Europe, are fluid, since cultural identification often plays just as important a role here as biological descent. The same applies to the demarcation of the mestizos from the population of European origin.
According to the 2010 census, 7.0% of the population are indigenous (the majority belonging to the Kichwa groups of the Andes and Oriente), 71.9% mestizo, 6.1% of European descent, 7.2% Afro-Ecuadorian and 7. 4% Montubio (coast people of mixed race). According to the indigenous organization CONAIE, the proportion of indigenous people is up to 50%. Others put the indigenous population at 40%, mestizos at another 40%, people of European descent at 10–15%, and Afro-Ecuadorians at 5–10%.
A 2019 genetic study found 59.6% indigenous, 28.8% European and 11.6% African heritage.
At least three groups exist in voluntary isolation in Yasuní National Park. They are called Tagaeri-Taromenane and belong to the Waorani culturally and linguistically.
A large community with a Lebanese migration background lives in Ecuador, which has resulted from immigration mainly since the 1920s. With Abdalá Bucaram and Jamil Mahuad, the country already had two presidents of Lebanese descent.
In 2017, 2.4% of the population were foreigners. The largest groups were individuals from Colombia (200,000), the United States (30,000), Peru and Chile (10,000 each). Because of the pleasant climate and low cost of living, many US and Canadian retirees choose Ecuador as their retirement home. Ecuador is still a country of emigration, but the proportion of migrants has doubled since 2000 and has increased further in recent years with around 800,000 refugees from Venezuela.
In addition to the official language Spanish, the second official language Kichwa (also Quichua) is of great importance with around two million speakers, especially in the Sierra. Kichwa is a group of regional dialects of Quechua, the lingua franca introduced by the Incas after conquering the region in the 15th century. In addition, some local indigenous languages and dialects are spoken in the northern Costa and in the Oriente. Of these, the Shuar spoken in the southern Oriente is the most widespread, with around 100,000 speakers. A few Barbacoan languages are also spoken, but no other indigenous language reaches the number of 5000 speakers. A total of 23 different languages and idioms are spoken in Ecuador.
It is common for children of that age to attend primary school. However, for many children no further schooling follows. There are state and private schools. In the last three school years, students have to choose a branch of education. The usual branches are mathematics, physics, chemistry and accounting. Child labor is common. Government spending on education accounts for only a small portion of gross national income. Ecuador has numerous universities, every major city usually has one. In 2015, 94.5% of the adult population could read and write.
Ecuador is a presidential republic with representative democracy and
a multi-party system. The president and parliament, the 137-seat
Asamblea Nacional ('National Assembly'), are directly elected on the
same day. The President is the head of state and government and thus the
head of the executive branch. Legislative power is exercised jointly by
the government and the National Assembly. The independence of the
judiciary from the other two branches of state power is guaranteed in
In the 1929 constitution, women were declared citizens and thus women's suffrage was introduced. Ecuador was the first Latin American country to give women limited suffrage, but it wasn't until 1946 that all women were allowed to vote. Between March 3, 1929 and 1967, however, voting was compulsory for men, while participation in the election was voluntary for women; From 1967 voting was compulsory for everyone and the conditions were the same for both sexes for the first time. A prerequisite for both sexes was that one had to be able to read and write in order to exercise the right to vote. In 1925, an Ecuadorian went to the polls for the first time, becoming the continent's first female voter, Matilde Hidalgo.
Ecuador's political system is centralized, with political power resting primarily with the President and thus in the capital, Quito, although decentralization efforts have been made in recent years. The political system is tailored around the president, who appoints a governor for each province and, at the next level, a "political head" for each Ecuadorian canton. The people of the provinces themselves elect a prefect, who is primarily responsible for infrastructure measures in rural areas and has roughly the functions of a senior mayor, as well as provincial and cantonal parliaments. In cities, mayors are elected. In the course of decentralization, parroquiales (municipal councils) were introduced, which are also regularly elected and participate in political decisions at the lowest level in cities and in the countryside. In addition to the municipal councils, there are neighborhood councils.
In practice, the political power structure at the national level
shows clear elements of a consociational democracy: political power in
the country has to be constantly balanced between the two major regions
of Costa and Sierra, with their centers in Guayaquil and Quito. In
presidential elections, all parties that think they have a chance of
winning the election nominate a pair of presidential and
vice-presidential candidates, one from one Greater Region and one from
the other. The influence of the political parties is also largely
limited to one region each: the Christian-social Partido Social
Cristiano (PSC) and the populist Partido Roldosista Ecuatoriano (PRE)
are the dominant parties in the coastal region. In the Andes region, the
social democratic Izquierda Democrática (ID) and Pachakutik, the
political movement of the Indian organization CONAIE, dominated. After
the 2006 elections, two parties founded in 2002, the PRIAN of the
extremely wealthy entrepreneur Álvaro Noboa and the Partido Sociedad
Patriótica of President Lucio Gutiérrez, who was ousted in 2005, formed
the strongest political blocs in the National Congress.
The "classic" parties PSC, PRE, ID, like the two up-and-coming ones, were strongly centered on their respective ex-presidents León Febres Cordero, Abdalá Bucaram and Rodrigo Borja or Noboa and Lucio Gutiérrez. A special case in the Ecuadorian party structure is Pachakutik, which is primarily elected in the rural provinces with a high proportion of indigenous populations and strives to curtail the power and decision-making volume of individuals in favor of the general public in the party in the interests of organizing indigenous village communities. In addition to the parties mentioned, there are a large number of other political associations as well as the movement of the President from 2006 to 2017, Rafael Correa, of the Movimiento PAÍS, which was only formed in 2006.
Political life at the national level is characterized by great instability, stable coalitions are rarely formed in the National Congress, and laws are often passed after extensive negotiations between individual government and opposition parties. The parties and parliaments enjoy a relatively low reputation in Ecuador due to the concessions that are often necessary and constant negotiations between the parties and individual members of parliament, since "package solutions" often result in suspected individual enrichment and public defamation.
In 2003, the right to vote had also led to ex-president Lucio Gutiérrez being elected to office for a party that was newly formed and had neither experience in parliamentary work nor significant representation in parliament, which further destabilized political life and ultimately to Gutiérrez ' Fall contributed only two years later. His successor, former Vice President Alfredo Palacio, did not have a solid parliamentary majority either. His successor, President Rafael Correa, who was elected in November 2006, even won the elections without his political movement PAÍS putting him up as a candidate in the parliamentary elections.
The Ecuadorian military also has an influence on politics that should not be underestimated, on the one hand through the presence of former military personnel in leading positions, on the other hand because it can withdraw support from the ruling president during protests and uprisings, as was the case in the cases of the ousted Jamil Mahuad (2000) and Lucio Gutiérrez (2005).
On April 15, 2007, the Ecuadorian electorate decided in a referendum
with 81.7% of the votes that a new Constituent Assembly should be
convened. In the elections to the Constituent Assembly on September 30,
2007, a quota law was applied for the first time in the country's
history, according to which male and female candidates must always
alternate on the list places. According to the official final result,
PAÍS, President Correa's list, received the overwhelming majority of 80
of the 130 seats, the next largest parties by seats were PSP (19), PRIAN
(8) and PSC (5). The Constituent Assembly of Ecuador 2007/08 began its
work on November 30, 2007 and declared an indefinite recess for the
National Congress on the first day of its session. In July 2008, the
drafted text was approved by the Constituent Assembly by a vote of 94:36
and in a referendum on September 28, 2008 by about 63% of the
electorate. The new constitution came into effect on October 20, 2008.
It is the 20th in the country's 178-year history.
The new constitution contains important constitutional innovations. She refers to the concepts pachamama (“mother earth”) and sumak kawsay (“good life”, Spanish “buen vivir”), which are rooted in the indigenous culture. The economic form should be social and solidary (previously: social and market economy) and committed to sustainable development. The new constitution stipulates basic social rights to food, health and education as well as state sovereignty over "strategic resources". In addition to the traditional separation of powers, it envisages citizens' councils as the "fourth estate" in the state. As a novelty in constitutional history, nature is defined as a legal subject. In addition, indigenous cultures are more widely recognized and the principle of gender equality is expanded.
The first presidential, legislative and regional elections based on the new constitution were held in April and June 2009, and Rafael Correa was confirmed in office with 51.99% of the votes on the first ballot. His party Movimiento PAÍS achieved 59 of the 124 seats in the parliament, now called the National Assembly, which began a new legislative period on July 31, 2009. In coalition with other parties, the Correa government was able to rely on a solid majority. In the run-off election in the second ballot in 2017, Correa's preferred candidate, Lenín Moreno, was able to assert himself against the opposition by an extremely narrow margin. Otto Sonnenholzner has been Vice President since December 2018.
In terms of GDP per capita, Ecuador is the fourth poorest country in
South America after Guyana, Bolivia and Paraguay. It is $11,200, that of
Bolivia $7,200, that of neighbors Peru and Colombia $12,900 and $14,100,
respectively. For comparison: the GDP per inhabitant according to
purchasing power parity in Germany is $48,400 (as of 2016). The
country's economy is heavily dependent on petroleum production, which
generates almost 60% of exports. Since the year 2000, Ecuador no longer
has its own currency, but the US dollar is the official means of
payment. Another peculiarity of the national economy of the Andean
country are its numerous labor emigrants. About a fifth of Ecuadorians
live abroad, mostly in the US and Spain.
In recent years, Ecuador's economy has boomed thanks to the country's oil reserves and progress has been made in the fight against poverty. In 2016, however, Ecuador experienced a recession due to the low oil price and an economic slowdown throughout South America.
In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures a country's competitiveness, Ecuador ranks 97th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018). The country ranked 160th out of 180 countries in the 2017 Economic Freedom Index.
As in most Latin American countries, economic inequality is very
high: while the top 20% earn about 58% of national income, the bottom
40% have only 13%.
According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy for men at 75 years is in the middle of the South American range (Bolivia is at the bottom with 67.7 years, Chile is at the top with 78.8). The same applies to infant mortality (less than 1) and child mortality (less than 5) at 23 per thousand and 25 per thousand, respectively - although the gap here is larger with both Bolivia (52/65) and Chile (8/10). 15% of the population live on less than one dollar a day – the highest value on the subcontinent after Bolivia and Paraguay. Conversely, Ecuador is only surpassed by Uruguay for access to clean drinking water (89% in rural areas) and sanitation (82%). A possible explanation is the high population density combined with low urbanization, which makes development more urgent and cheaper at the same time (see Geography of Ecuador).
With 5.5% of GDP for health expenditure, Ecuador is in the lower midfield: bottom of the table, Peru spends 4.1%, Argentina 9.6% – but Chile also only 6.1%. With 12 deaths per year per 100,000 people, HIV/AIDS does not play a major role in Ecuador, as in most South American countries - sad exceptions are Guyana and Suriname with more than 150 deaths per 100,000. In some sub-Saharan African states, this number is in the four-digit range (in Germany it is "under 10"). Amazingly, according to WHO data, Ecuador has the second lowest rate of underage pregnancies after Chile at 5.6% – but this may also be due to outdated data. Neighboring Colombia is the leader here with 9.2%. Economic underdevelopment is also reflected in the fact that only 4.2% of Ecuadorians use the Internet (only Paraguay and Bolivia are fewer) and that there are just 11 landline telephone lines per 100 inhabitants - less than half as many as in Chile, Argentina or Brazil (although here again the high population density should help). Significant progress was made under the Correa government in expanding the telecommunications infrastructure. In 2016, 43.1% of the population used the internet. On December 15, 2008, the country defaulted on foreign loans when it failed to pay interest on a bond issued in 2000 and maturing in 2012. President Correa justified this step by saying that the loans taken out by previous governments were "illegitimate and the creditors ... immoral".
After several economic shocks (the war with Peru in 1995, El Niño in
1997, the Russian and Asian crises in 1997/98) and an all-time low in
the price of oil, the country's foreign debt amounted to 13 billion
dollars in 1998. In 1998 a banking and currency crisis developed in
Ecuador. Several banks went bankrupt, the central bank increased the
money supply to prop up the banking system, and the Ecuadorian Sucre
depreciated sharply. The central bank visibly lost its foreign exchange
reserves as a result of foreign exchange market interventions, which
were only able to slow down the devaluation to a limited extent. For two
years, Ecuador sank into economic chaos. Inflation was more than 60% in
1999 and almost 100% in 2000. The Sucre continued to depreciate - 30% in
1998 and another 67% in the following year. The Ecuadorian state lost
access to the international credit market and domestically bank accounts
were frozen to prop up the banking system. The central bank had lost
control of all monetary variables - inflation, the exchange rate and the
money supply. It is said that around 200,000 Ecuadorians emigrated
between 1998 and 2000 alone. In 2000, The Economist described the
country as the “most unstable in Latin America”. In fact, the US dollar
had long since become the most important means of payment.
On January 9, 2000, President Jamil Mahuad therefore announced that he would abolish the Ecuadorian currency, the Sucre, and introduce the US dollar as the country's official currency. 22 days later he was overthrown under pressure from the military and indigenous organizations such as CONAIE, not least because of this decision, and replaced by his deputy Gustavo Noboa. However, the decision to dollarize Ecuador was maintained.
Dollarization - the adoption of a foreign currency as official means of payment - means the end of all monetary policy, which means that the money supply and thus the interest rate level can no longer be controlled by politicians or the national bank. Fiscal policy remains the only macroeconomic policy. Also, the country loses seigniorage from issuing cash. Furthermore, there is no devaluation as a possible reaction to exogenous shocks. In return, the country gets a stable currency and the black market with parallel exchange rates for the domestic currency is eliminated.
The relevant international organisations, the International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank, all advocated dollarisation, as a result of which inflation also stabilized significantly (5.7% in 2002-06 and 2.6% in July 2007) and the banking system has recovered . Last but not least, the reason for the latter is a moderately growing economy due to the high oil price and higher remittances from Ecuadorians living abroad, which are now the country's most important source of foreign exchange after oil. However, due to the higher inflation compared to the USA, the real exchange rate rose again in recent years to the level of the 1990s after it had been strongly devalued in 1998-2000. Overall, inflation seems to be slowly adjusting to international levels.
About two to three million Ecuadorians live abroad as migrant workers, more than half the working population in Ecuador. The main destinations are the USA, Spain, Italy, the Benelux countries, Great Britain, Canada, Chile and Switzerland. About 800,000 Ecuadorians live in Spain and in Spanish schools, Ecuadorians make up the largest minority, ahead of Moroccans. In upstate New York, 600,000 Ecuadorians make up the largest Latin American population.
According to an extensive study by USAid, there are about 700,000
micro-enterprises in Ecuador, employing more than a million people
(other estimates range from 950,000 to 1.7 million people). More than a
third of all urban lower and middle class families run a micro-business.
Overall, the sector generates more than a quarter of Ecuador's GDP. Only
a quarter of the companies are registered (have an RUC) and only 15% are
enrolled in the social security system. Women are clearly
overrepresented in this informal sector. 55% of micro-enterprises are
active in trade, 26% in services and 19% in manufacturing. Half of all
retailers sell food and beverages. In particular, women
micro-entrepreneurs in the service sector have restaurants (68%) or
hairdressing salons (17%), men run bus or taxi companies (35%), car
workshops (17%) or restaurants (17%). Women in production mostly produce
textiles (52%), men furniture (24%).
Unlike in many other countries, Ecuador's microentrepreneurs sell almost exclusively to end customers; only 0.2% of microenterprises produce for export. This implies less elastic demand and rapid market saturation.
In 1967, a US consortium found oil in the Oriente. Since a pipeline
to the Pacific was completed five years later, Ecuador has been a major
oil producer. Ecuador produces 509,000 barrels of oil per day (25
million tons per year). It produces about 0.6% of world production and
ranks 30th in the world and fourth in South America after Venezuela,
Brazil and Argentina. Ecuador consumes around 160,000 barrels a day and
exports almost 70% of its production. The secured reserves are 4.5
billion barrels, the theoretical production range is about 25 years. In
terms of reserves, Ecuador ranks 25th in the world and 3rd in South
America (ahead of Argentina). Ecuador was a member of the Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries until January 2020.
See also: Petroleum/Tables and Graphs
Oil is transported to the Pacific via two pipeline systems totaling 3,346 km in length. The first pipeline (Sistema de Oleoductos Trans-ecuatoriano de Petroecuador, SOTE) was inaugurated in 1972 and ends at the Puerto Balao oil port near Esmeraldas. It runs from Nueva Loja across the Paso de Papallacta past Quito to Esmeraldas and has a capacity of 400,000 bpd. In 1987, the pipeline was out of service for more than six months due to earthquake damage. The second major pipeline, Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados (OCP), was inaugurated in 2003. The OCP was co-financed by WestLB and has been criticized by environmentalists. It also runs from Nueva Loja to Esmeraldas, but not parallel to the SOTE all the time. The capacity of the OCP is 450,000 bpd, the total length is 503 km. It also uses, on a smaller scale, the Oleoducto Transandino de Colombia (or TransAndino), which brings oil to the Pacific Ocean via Tumaco.
In May 2006, the Ecuadorian government unilaterally terminated the production contracts with the US company Occidental Petroleum, which had the largest production share of the national reserves and was also the largest foreign investor in Ecuador. The fields will be turned over to the state-owned extraction company Petroecuador.
However, oil production in Ecuador is also leading to increasing environmental pollution due to oil leaking from defective pipelines and other lines. There are also reports of numerous human rights violations against the indigenous people in connection with oil production. Secret contracts between most oil companies and the Ecuadorian army became known in 2005, in which they undertook to protect the private companies and to arrest indigenous Amazonians in the vicinity of the production facilities.
Model proposals have recently been discussed, the large oil deposits under the species-rich rainforest of the Yasuní National Park - approx. 900 million barrels of oil - in exchange for a compensation payment from the international community in the amount of half of the expected income - approx. 3.5 billion US dollars - to be left in the ground so that flora and fauna can remain intact. The money, managed by a trust fund, is to be invested in climate protection and renewable energies.
Cut flowers for export have been grown on a large scale in Ecuador
since the late 1980s. Today, Ecuador is the world's fourth largest
exporter after the Netherlands, Colombia and Kenya. Flowers are
Ecuador's sixth most important export after petroleum, bananas, fishery
products, metal goods and shrimp. Since the flower industry emerged in
Colombia in the late 1960s, the world market for flowers is now largely
globalized. More than 60 countries export cut flowers. After the export
share of cut flowers was already 6% in 2002 and flowers were the third
exported after oil and bananas, today it has fallen again to 3%. In
2006, 114,000 tons of flowers were exported for 400 million dollars. By
far the most important part of production is made up of roses, which
make up around three quarters of all exports. 70% of all exports go to
the USA - 70% of all cut flowers there come from South America, almost
half of which come from Ecuador, the rest almost exclusively from
Colombia. Ecuador is also the most important flower supplier for Russia,
where the extraordinarily long-stemmed roses are particularly popular,
Japan and numerous countries in the Middle East, but not for Europe. The
export takes place exclusively by plane via Quito Airport.
Flower production in Ecuador is based on the favorable production factors of land, water and labour, but above all on the perfect combination of the equatorial sun and the special climate of the Andean highlands for flower cultivation, as well as the diverse topography, which allows perfectly coordinated conditions for each flower variety. The main growing areas are in the north of the province of Pichincha around the city of Cayambe and in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Chimborazo. Production is very labour, capital and technology intensive. The flowers are produced in foil greenhouses, some of which have complex irrigation systems and use a lot of pesticides, artificial fertilizers and fungicides. About 10 workers are needed per hectare of cultivated land. The flowers are grown by about 400 Ecuadorian hacendados, or international companies, many of them from Colombia. A typical plantation has about 25-50 ha and 250-500 workers.
The working conditions in some of the plantations are still poor, the exposure to chemicals is extremely high and the working hours are long and flexible. Unions are not allowed. The payment according to a piecework system ensures extremely non-solidarity working conditions. Child labor, on the other hand, is hardly to be found.
Ecuador's exports are mainly based on petroleum. In 2006, goods worth
a total of US$ 12.7 billion (FOB) were exported. Of this, $6.6 billion
was crude oil, $1.2 billion bananas, $0.7 billion fishery products, $0.6
billion petroleum derivatives, $0.6 billion shrimp, $0.6 billion metals
and machinery, $0.4 billion cut flowers, $0.2 billion cocoa and $0.1
billion coffee. The oil sector thus accounts for 59% of all exports. Of
the traditional exports, bananas, cocoa and coffee, only the first play
an important role. Non-traditional exports such as hardware, shrimp and
cut flowers, while growing strongly since the 1980s, are still largely
irrelevant to oil revenues. The most important markets are the USA
(54%), Peru (9%), Colombia (5%) and Chile (4%). Since Ecuador does not
have sufficient refining capacity, it has to import petroleum
derivatives such as gasoline and diesel. In 2006, these accounted for
almost a fifth of all imports. The main suppliers are the USA (25%),
Colombia (15%), Venezuela (8%) and Brazil (7%). With a world market
share of 75 percent, Ecuador is by far the largest exporter of balsa
Between 1989 and 1994, Ecuador experienced a period of radical trade liberalization. Under President Rodrigo Borja, the average tariff has been reduced from over 40% to under 12%. The maximum duty fell from 290% to 20% (only cars, especially used cars, were taxed higher). Furthermore, numerous non-tariff barriers to trade were removed, Sucre was drastically devalued and foreign direct investments made easier. Under Borja's successor, Sixto Durán Ballén, Ecuador joined the Andean Pact and the WTO.
Ecuador is a member of the International Cocoa Organization.
In recent years, tourism has also developed into an important branch
of the economy, also because Ecuador is considered to be one of the
countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Ecuador also
offers a variety of landscapes that is second to none. Mention should be
made of the Galapagos Islands, the Route of the Volcanoes, Baños in the
cloud forests of the eastern slope of the Andes and the tropical rain
forests. Travel offers in natural areas are generally referred to as
ecotourism in Ecuador, even if the strict criteria of environmentally
friendly travel are not met. In addition, the colonial center of the
capital Quito was the first place ever to be included in the UNESCO
World Heritage List.
In 2016, the state budget included expenditures of 34.9 billion US dollars, compared to revenues of 30.9 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 4.0% of GDP.
The national debt was $28.6 billion in 2016, or 29.2% of GDP.
Share of government spending (in % of GDP) in the following areas:
Health: 9.2% (2014)
Education: 5.0% (2015)
Military: 1.7% (2017)
Historically, the two most important parts of the country, Costa and
Sierra, were largely isolated from each other due to their difficult
topography and very poor infrastructure. Even within the Sierra, trade
and communication between the various cirques presented great
difficulties. As late as the early 20th century, Guayaquil was supplied
with maize and potatoes from Peru and Colombia, and imports for Quito
were brought in by porter and mule. As late as 1920, the 220-kilometer
journey from Quito to the border town of Tulcán (on the Colombian
border) took five days. It was not until 1908, during the tenure of
President Eloy Alfaro, that the first railway between the two centers
was completed. While the railway lines from San Lorenzo in the north to
Loja in the south and the branch line to Guayaquil were completed at the
beginning of the 20th century, there was and is still no rail connection
to Peru, Colombia or the Oriente. In 1998, the most important route
between Guayaquil and Quito was badly damaged by El Niño, so that it
could no longer be fully used for 15 years. Only a few sections of the
entire 965-kilometer route network were still in operation for tourists.
Under President Rafael Correa, the entire network was restored from 2009
and the previously privately organized railway was transferred to the
public Ferrocarriles del Ecuador Empresa Publica (FEEP). After the
routes were repaired in sections, continuous operations were resumed in
January 2013 on the main route from Guayaquil.
As is usual in South America, long-distance passenger transport is largely handled by buses, but in contrast to other countries, mainly with daily rates, which represents a significant difference for the travel experience (and perceived safety). The buses are the lifeblood of the country and run regularly even in the most remote parts of the country. They're also the only thing that hasn't gone up in price since the dollar was introduced as the national currency; One dollar fare is to be expected per hour on the bus.
The modern road system was built in a first wave from the 1960s. The main roads are Tulcán-Macará (E35, Panamericana), Riobamba-Huaquillas (Panamericana), Guayaquil-Riobamba, Quito-Santo Domingo and Guayaquil-Santo Domingo-Esmeraldas. The old Guayaquil-Guaranda-Quito road is little used. A total of only 8,000 km of 43,000 kilometers of roads were paved after the first expansion. A gigantic road construction program has been running since around 2006, which has probably doubled or even tripled the proportion of paved roads. In principle, this makes traveling by bus even cheaper, as the buses sometimes reach their destinations twice as quickly on newly constructed roads.
There are two international airports, Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre in the Tumbaco Valley near Quito and Aeropuerto Internacional José Joaquín de Olmedo in Guayaquil. In addition to passenger transport, the export of cut flowers also plays a major role at Quito Airport. There are also a number of regional airports and numerous easy airstrips across the country. The main airline in the country is TAME.
Ecuador produces about 11 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Almost two thirds of this comes from hydropower plants, the rest from oil power plants. The estimated potential of hydroelectric power is 100,000 megawatts (MW), 1720 MW are used. The main power plants are the Amaluza dam plant on the Río Paute (hydro, 1100 MW, about 60% of hydroelectric power production), Daule Peripa (water, 210 MW), Zevallos (vap/gas, 175 MW) and Agoyán (water, 156 MW).
Oil exports are handled via two transandean pipelines. Shipping takes place in the province of Esmeraldas in the north. The main ports are in Guayaquil (overseas), Manta (fishing) and Machala (bananas).
Hernando de la Cruz (1592–1646), a Panamanian-born Counter-Reformation artist, decorated various buildings in Quito. Eduardo Kingman depicted the rural life of the indigenous population in his work. The most important visual artist of the 20th century was Oswaldo Guayasamín.
Until November 28, 2007, the television landscape in Ecuador consisted exclusively of private television stations, which are still by far the best known and most watched today. The best-known national television station is Ecuavisa, which also has an international channel that feeds primarily into US cable networks.
On November 28, 2007, Ecuador TV, the country's first state television station, began broadcasting.
The country's largest newspapers are El Universo in Guayaquil and El Comercio in Quito.
The country's media law, passed under President Rafael Correa in 2013, is considered the most repressive in South America. It prohibits the publication of unverifiable information.
The country's national football association is the Federación Ecuatoriana de Fútbol and the Ecuadorian men's national football team is its most important sporting representative. The men's national team qualified for the 2002, 2006, 2014 and 2022 World Cups. In 2006, the team reached the round of 16. At the Copa América, the continental football championship, the Ecuadorian national football team finished fourth in their own country in 1959 and 1993.
The Ecuadorian women's national soccer team qualified for the only time for a World Cup in Canada in 2015 and was eliminated in the preliminary round. The best results at the women's Copa América are third place in 2014 and fourth place in 1998.
The best-known football teams in Serie A, the country's top football league, are LDU Quito, the only Ecuadorian club to date to have won the Copa Libertadores, as well as CD El Nacional, Barcelona SC Guayaquil, CS Emelec and Deportivo Quito.
By 2021, Ecuador had only one Olympic champion, Jefferson Pérez, who won the 20km walk at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and took a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. In this respect, the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 were historic for Ecuador with three more medals: Richard Carapaz won the gold medal in road cycling. Neisi Dajomes took the second gold medal in the light heavyweight weightlifting event and Tamara Salazar won a silver medal in the same heavyweight event.
Special Olympics Ecuador has participated in the Special Olympics World Games several times. The association has announced its participation in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023 in Berlin. Before the games, the delegation will be looked after as part of the Host Town Program by Koblenz and the Mayen-Koblenz district.
Since 2015, the BMX athlete Jonathan Camacho, who comes from General Villamil, has gained increasing international fame through his sustained success. He is now considered one of the world's best freestyle BMX riders. In 2019, Richard Carapaz won the overall classification of the Giro d'Italia and was also on the podium at the other two Grand Tours of road cycling, with a second place at the 2020 Vuelta a España and a third place at the 2021 Tour de France.