Capital | Quito
Population | 15,007,343 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 283,560 SQ KM
Official Language | Spanish
Holidays | Independence Day (independence of Quito), 10 August (1809)
Currency | Dollar (USD)
Time Zone | UTC-5
Best Time to Visit | From May to December on the mainland, or January to April for the Galάpagos
Connecting with the Culture | Travelling to the Galάpagos Islands to snorkel with harmless sharks, stare at iguanas and scuba dive with manta rays. Wandering through the splendid colonial streets of Cuenca. Outdoor pursuits in Oriente—where you can hike, visit indigenous communities, white-water raft, fish for piranhas and spot caimans. Bouncing around the spectacular high Andean road known as the Quilotoa loop, stopping to hike, buy indigenous crafts and visit Ecuador’s most stunning crater lake, Laguna Quilotoa. Journeying down the Río Napo to the Amazon River by canoe and cargo boat from Coca in the Oriente to Iquitos Peru.
Read | Jorge Icaza’s Huasipungo (The Villagers), a naturalistic tale of the miserable conditions experienced on Andean haciendas in the early 20th century. Galάpagos by Kurt Vonnegut is a comic, cautionary, evolutionary tale.
Listen | to Marco Villota, a singer-songwriter who plays with the band Pueblo Nuevo.
Watch | Talking with Fish and Birds, directed by Rainer Simon, documenting the life and death of a shaman.
Eat | ceviche (uncooked seafood marinated in lemon and served with popcorn and onion) or patacones (fried plantain chips).
Drink | the good local cervezas (beer), or aguardiente (sugarcane alcohol)—a more acquired taste.
In a Word | Bacάn (cool)
Characteristics | The Galάpagos Islands; panama hats; panpipes; the Andes; eating roasted guinea-pigs.
Surprises | Ecuador has one of the highest deforestation rates in Latin America; the oldest tools found in Ecuador date to 9000 BC.
NEWS ABOUT ECUADOR
Ecuador President says won't attend Summit of the Americas Over Cuba
(HN. 4/2/12) - Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa said Monday he'll boycott this month's 6th Summit of the Americas in Colombia where 34 leaders of the OAS nations are expected to meet April 14 & 15th in Cartagena - because Cuba is not invited. Correa wrote a letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos saying, "Washington's veto of Cuban participation in the summit is intolerable & not by consensus"; also stating, "While I am the president of Ecuador, I will not attend any Summit of the Americas until it begins to make the decisions required". In his letter Correa added his displeasure with the 5th Summit, held in Trinidad & Tobago which also excluded Cuba, & the "aberrant colonization of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands. The summit cannot bear its name when an American country is intentionally & unjustifiably neglected." Apologizing to his neighbor country Colombia, Correa lamented that, "Our peoples may get tired of their leaders attending so many summits, while there are still so many issues to overcome, such as poverty & inequality, parameters that place Latin America as the world's most unequal region". Almost 2 billion people live in the Americas region; the Summit of the Americas takes place every 3 years. (Read more at Prensa Latina)