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Ecuador - Overview

The country of Ecuador covers a variety of terrains and it can seem as though you are visiting several different countries at once. There are three distinct geological regions called Sierra, Oriente and Costa. The country also controls the Galapagos Islands.

The region of Sierra is home to the Andes mountain range which runs through the centre of the country and has peaks topping over 19,000ft. The landscape is made up of volcanoes and Ecuador's main cities are situated in the large valley known as the Avenue of Volcanoes.

To the East of Sierra lies Oriente which is an area well known for its variety of geography. It consists of wet lowlands covered by dense jungle, as well as rivers carrying water from the Andes into the Amazon River. Costa is home to Ecuador's commercial capital Guayaquil, this is an area which is made up of tropical forests and attractive beaches.

In a remote part of the Pacific Ocean lie the Galapagos Islands, they have been described as a lost world and attract many visitors each year who want to see the variety of wildlife which has made its home there. Around 50% of the animal species on the islands cannot be found anywhere else on the globe.

The city of Quito is Ecuador's capital and it is one of the highest capital cities in the world, as it is situated just under 10,000ft above sea level and is overshadowed by the Pichincha volcano. Visitors should be aware that because of the location, they may suffer from altitude sickness for the first few hours after arriving in Quito. The population of the city is just over 2 million.

The official language in Ecuador is Spanish however, indigenous languages such as Quichua are also common, particularly in rural areas. Clothing required for your visit includes lightweight natural fabrics, such as linen. Waterproof clothing is recommended in subtropical areas and warmer clothes are needed in upland areas although the heavy winter clothing used by those from the US or Europe will not be necessary in most areas. Casual wear is widely worn and accepted however formal wear may be required when visiting some hotel dining rooms and upmarket restaurants. Visitors should not wear revealing clothing in towns or cities.

Visitors should also be aware that a tip might be requested if you take someone's photograph and it is recommended that you ask their permission first as if you do not you may cause offence.

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