- Quito; 1,451,000
- 283,560 square kilometers (109,483 square miles)
- Spanish, Quechua
- Roman Catholic
- U.S. dollar
- Life Expectancy:
- GDP per Capita:
- U.S. $3,200
- Literacy Percent:
Ecuador Facts Flag
Ecuador's name comes from the Equator, which divides it unequally, putting most of the country in the Southern Hemisphere. It may be the smallest Andean country, but it has four distinct and contrasting regions. The Costa, or coastal plain, grows enough bananas to make the country the world's largest exporter of the fruit. The Sierra, or Andean uplands, offers productive farmland. Oil from the Oriente, jungles east of the Andes, enriches the economy. The Galápagos Islands, volcanic islands 960 kilometers west of Ecuador, bring tourism revenue with its unique reptiles, birds, and plants.
The country is divided ethnically as well as regionally. About 10 percent of the population is of European descent, about a quarter belong to indigenous cultures, and the rest are of mostly mixed ethnicity. Those of Spanish descent often are engaged in administration and land ownership in Quito and the surrounding Andean uplands; this is also where most of the indigenous people live—many are subsistence farmers. As a result, land-tenure reform is an explosive issue. The city of Guayaquil dominates the coastal plain, largely populated by mestizos. Guayaquil—the country's largest city, major port, and leading commercial center—is a rival to Quito. This is the wealthiest part of Ecuador, and complaints that tax revenues are squandered in the capital are common.
Regional and ethnic issues contribute to political instability for Ecuador's democracy.
- Industry: Petroleum, food processing, textiles, metal work
- Agriculture: Bananas, coffee, cacao, rice; cattle; balsa wood; fish
- Exports: Petroleum, bananas, shrimp, coffee, cacao
—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition
National Geographic Traveler presents the New Year's must-see places. From Argentina to Oz, this list reflects what’s authentic, culturally rich, sustainable-minded, and of course superlative in the world of travel today.
From Quito to Uganda, Raja Ampat to Memphis, 20 wildly diverse places make our wanderlust list for the new year.
Enjoy scenes from the Andes Mountains.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
Submit your best shots for a chance to be featured in our weekly galleries and to win a grand prize trip for two to Alaska.