Ecuador is a relatively small country in South America. Its official name, República del Ecuador, translates as "Republic of the Equator". True to its name, this democratic republic straddles the Equator. It covers 283,561 sq km (109,415 sq mi) and has a population of 15 million people.
The capital of Ecuador is Quito while its biggest city is Guayaquil. Ecuador also includes the Galapagos Islands, which is located in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km (620 mi) from the mainland. The official language of the country is Spanish.
Street of Quito, Ecuador http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Quito_calle_Garc%C3%ADa_Moreno.jpg Cayambe
Ecuador is in the Ecuador Time zone, which is five hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-5), while the Galapagos Islands is in Galapagos Time zone (UTC-6). The US Dollars is used as the official currency here. Traffic is driven on the right in Ecuador. The phone IDD code is +593. Electricity is 110-220V/60Hz using US and European plugs.
In 2010, Ecuador had a nominal GDP of $64 billion and a per capita nominal GDP of $4,928. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity is $8,322.
There is evidence of human habitation in Ecuador going back to around 3,500 BC. It was part of the Inca Empire in 1463, but was under Spanish rule since 1563. On 10 August, 1809, Quito became the first city in Latin America to call for independence from Spain. The independence came in stages, first to the city of Guayaquil on 9 October, 1820, and to the rest of Ecuador on 24 May, 1822. It became a republic in 1830. Another ten years would pass before its independence was recognized by Spain.
Today Ecuador is still politically volatile. As recently as 30 September, 2010, President Rafael Correa was taken hostage in a hospital by police officers in protest against cuts in benefits for public service workers.
Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AMAZON18.jpg Kapawie
Planning your visit to Ecuador
Beginning 20 June, 2008, nationalities of all countries may enter Ecuador without a visa for a visit of up to 90 days. Having said this, Chinese citizens need a stamp from the Ecuador consulate.
The main airport is in Quito while the main port is in Guayaquil. Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is the main gateway to Quito and to Ecuador. In the near future it will be replaced by a new international airport under construction in Tababela parish. As of 1 March 2009, there is an international departure tax of US$40.80, included into the airfare since February 2011.
Ecuador ratified the World Heritage Convention on 16 June, 1975. As of August 2010, it has 4 World Heritage Sites, two in the cultural and two in the natural category. Ecuador also has another 6 sites on the World Heritage Tentative List. Ecuador served two terms on the World Heritage Committee, in 1976-1980 and 1995-2001.
The Galapagos was in the List of World Heritage in Danger between 2007 and 2010, when it was taken off that list.
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