D A T C O T O U R
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THE COUNTRY: Although covering just 256,370 sq. km. (99,130 sq. miles) Ecuador contains one of the most varied geographies in South America. There are four distinct regions: the Andean highlands, the coastal tropical plains, the Amazon Basin and the Galapagos Islands, located 1,000 km. (600 miles) off the coast in the Pacific Ocean. Quito, on the highlands, is the capital city; Guayaquil, on the coast, is the main port and the largest city in the countryEcuador is bounded by Colombia to the north, Peru to the east and south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its area is about 192,279 sq. miles, which makes it the 2nd smallest country in South America. Approximately 40% of its 8,073,000 people are Indians, 40% Mestizo, 10% European and the remainder are black and Asian. Few countries offer the wide range of attractions one will discover in Ecuador. Here, right on the Equator, stretching from Darwins Galapagos Islands to the Amazon basin, is a truly unique country.
THE PEOPLE: Of Ecuador's more than 13.2 million inhabitants, those in the highlands are mainly mestizo, a mixture of European and Native South American extractions. Indigenous peoples live mainly in the Andean highlands and in the Amazon regions. Coastal dwellers are descendants of Native South Americans, Europeans and Africans.
BANKS & BUSINESSES: Most city offices and shops open from 9:00 to 18:00 Monday through Friday. Currency exchange facilities are open week days and Saturday morning in major hotels. Banking facilities are not available in remote areas. U.S. dollars are accepted throughout the country. ATM's are easily found throughout the main cities. Cash advances can be made at most banks or ATM's.
CURRENCY: Ecuador's currency is the Dollar of the United States of Americas. U.S. dollars are used for all transactions. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency or travelers cheques brought into Ecuador.
ELECTRICITY: 110 volts, 60 cycles AC is used. Most outlets are for two flat prongs. It is useful to carry a small flashlight. For TV and video equipment, Ecuador uses the NTSC system
LANGUAGE: Ecuador's official language is Spanish, but Kichwa, the lingua franca of the Inca Empire, is the tongue of the majority of the Indian population. English is spoken in major visitor centers.
CLIMATE: Ecuador has a land area similar in size to England or the State of Colorado (USA) and is divided into four different geographic zones: the Amazon, the highlands, the Pacific lowlands and the Galapagos Islands. Since Ecuador is located right on the equator, the country as a whole experiences no extreme weather changes. Rainy seasons vary in each zone. See our specific brochures for information on each area.
FOOD: International cuisine is available throughout the country, but try some of the Ecuadorian specialties: humitas and tamales (made of corn and wrapped in leaves), llapingachos (fried mashed potato patties with cheese), ceviche (a saucy shrimp cocktail), and locro (a soup of stewed potatoes and cheese topped with an avocado). There are many excellent restaurants in the main cities and a restaurant guide is distributed free to all visitors upon arrival in Ecuador.
HEALTH: No inoculations are required for entry. Travelers with heart conditions or high blood pressure should check with their physicians about high-altitude travel, as well as preventive measures for visiting tropical areas. Bottled water is advised and available everywhere.