Information about Ecuador

See Information about Quito city here

spanish



HOW TO GET TO ECUADOR? The usual way is by plane, taking an international flight from your home country to Quito city (Capital of Ecuador). Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre (UIO). Located around 8km from Quito's center and is the main, best and easiest way to get into the city. There are (almost) daily flights serving Amsterdam, Atlanta, Houston, Madrid, Miami,New York, Buenos Aires, Bonaire, Caracas, Bogotá, Lima,Medellín, Cali, Panama City, Punta Cana, Santiago de Chile, andSan Jose. Airlines include KLM, Continental Airlines, Copa Airlines, AeroGal, TAME, Icaro, Club Vip, SAereo, Aeropostal, AirPlus Comet, Delta Airlines, TACA, LAN Ecuador, Avianca - Alianza Summa, Iberia, Santa Barbara, and American Airlines.

Basic Facts:
Population: 13.2 million
Area: 256,370 square kilometers (including Galapagos)
Currency: US dollar
Electricity: 110V 60Hz

Ecuador is a remarkable country, for its natural riches, its cultural diversity and history, and its peoples and traditions. Every corner of the country can offer something different for the traveler, from the spectacular tropical coastline with its populations of African origin to the Amazon and its variety of indigenous peoples and its amazing biodiversity. In between the two regions is the Sierra, which includes some of South America’s highest mountain peaks. With this diversity of terrain Ecuador offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, from mountain climbing, trekking, and mountain biking to rafting, swimming, and just relaxing in the great outdoors.

spanish

Ecuador’s history began 15 to 20 thousand years ago with the rise of indigenous societies in the region. These populations were well developed, and archeological sites throughout the country provide evidence of their existence. Prior to the Spanish conquest, Ecuador formed part of the northern Inca Empire. Today, Ecuador has a wide diversity of indigenous populations descended from these early inhabitants.

Today, Ecuador has a population of close to 13 million people. Most of these live in the Sierra or the Coastal regions. The country has more than 14 indigenous groups, with most maintaining their traditions and way of life. Spanish is the primary language, but there are several indigenous languages still spoken in some areas of the country. The predominant religion is Catholicism, but in some areas, traditional worship of the earth, sun and mountains is still preserved.

spanish

Ecuador is one of the top 17 nations of the world with respect to biodiversity. This relatively small country has over 1600 species of birds, 4500 species of butterflies, about 350 species of both reptiles and amphibians, and over 350 species of mammals. Nearly 25,000 species of trees and 10,000 species of plants live in the Amazon. There are 24 national parks and reserves, and although protection of these areas is weak, nearly all offer amazing landscapes unlike others to be found anywhere. Some of these protected areas are very difficult to access, allowing serious hikers access to places that are nearly pristine. Ecuador also includes the Galapagos Islands, a small area with about 600 native species, famous for its unique biodiversity and its remarkable marine life.

Further, the variation in terrain and climates of the country means that each area is unique, offering the visitor plenty to explore. Altitudes range from sea level to 6,310 meters at the peak of Chimborazo—the point on the globe furthest away from the center of the earth. There are several peaks of 5,000 meters or more in the country.

spanish

Climate varies as much as the terrain, ranging to the generally dry climate of Quito to the rainforests of the Amazon. Rainy seasons vary from one area to another; the coast has its wet season from December to May and the Amazon from January to September. The highlands, including Quito, receive the most rain between November and April. Temperatures at the coast range from 23 to 26 degrees, with the warmest temperatures during the wet season. In the Amazon, temperatures range from 23 to 36 degrees. The highlands have a moderately cool climate, with temperatures between 13 and 18 degrees, although this can vary greatly with altitude.

Ecuador is a relatively poor country economically, but has vast riches in its resources. Currently, Ecuador’s economy is sustained by exports of these resources, including oil and timber. The country also exports bananas, coffee, cocoa, shrimp, tuna, and flowers. Other exports include some fruits and vegetables as well as products of small industries such as handicrafts. Agriculture is a primary activity in most of rural Ecuador, providing the livelihood for most of its people.

spanish

What areas of Ecuador are best to visit?
Ecuador has a wide variety of places to visit, from the tropical coast to the high Sierra to the Amazon. Few countries in the world offer such a wide variety of spectacular landscapes and things to do, and nearly every corner of Ecuador has something unique to offer the traveler.

Do I need a visa to come for Spanish classes?
For most countries, a 90-day stay does not require a visa. For longer stays, your 90-day tourist visa can be renewed here (once only) for an additional 90 days at no charge. Stays longer than 180 days, including re-entry, require a visa. Check with the Ecuadorian Embassy in your home country to verify your requirements.

spanish

Is the country dangerous?
Ecuador is considered one of the safer countries in Latin America. In the big cities, such as Quito, it is necessary to exercise caution at night (we recommend not walking alone late at night) and to remain alert during the day—but this is not significantly different from many other large cities. The greatest problem is theft; violent crime is far less common. In smaller communities, the country is generally quite safe, and its kind and generous people make all tourists feel quite welcome.

Entry requirements
A U.S. passport with remaining validity of at least six months is required to enter Ecuador. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel, such as an airline ticket . U.S. citizens traveling on regular passports for tourism or business do not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or less. Those planning a longer visit must obtain a visa in advance of arrival.
EU citizens do not require a visa for a stay of 90 days or less. Only a passport is required, and this should be valid for up to six months following your return date. Since October of 2008, the extension of your stay period for an extra 90 days is no longer possible. Those who wish to remain longer than 90 days must consult the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Health
In Quito, it is only advisable to go to private health clinics. Public medical care in Ecuador is quite poor. Prior to your Spanish program, we would recommend that you acquire travel medical insurance. While in Ecuador, you should avoid consumption of tap water and ice cubes to avoid stomach problems. Also, one must exercise precaution in making sure all foods are well cooked.

Money and Prices
Ecuador adopted the US Dollar as its official currency in 2000. Average price levels in Ecuador are far below those of Europe and the United States. Since prices are relatively low, it’s not necessary to always jump on the cheapest deal. Our advice: if you really want to save money, avoid the modern commercial centers of the big cities as these places are full of brand-name items that are significantly more expensive.
A typical meal: 2-4 Euros / 2.5-5 USD
Tips: 10% to 15 %
Forms of Payment:
The official currency of the country is the US Dollar. However, large bills such as 20s or 50s are often not accepted.
Debit card (ATMs)
Credit Cards (accepted in big cities)

Transportation
For long trips, there are direct buses that are relatively comfortable. Those looking for a little more adventure can take local buses that will make various stops before arriving to your final destination. It’s preferable to avoid taking the local buses at night, as many traffic accidents occur during night hours. For very long trips, one also has the option of taking domestic flights. The bus system in Quito is very complicated for foreigners to understnad. However, the major routes of the city are connected by a simple metro system that is similar to a subway, known as the Ecovia.

Phone & Internet
In Ecuador, there are plenty of internet cafes that offer reasonable prices for phone calls via the Internet. In many internet cafes, you will be able to find Skype and MSN Messenger programs through which to make phone calls. There are good internet cafes in nearly every city and major tourist destination in Ecuador. Cell phone connectivity in Ecuador is relatively decent, although some cell phones (three frequency bands) don’t work in this country. Local cell phones can de purchased in places such as the airport and in call centers (known as “locutorios”).
Ecuador Calling Code: 00593

Time Difference
Ecuador Standard Time is GMT (UTC) -5. It coincides with the Central Standard Time Zone of the U.S. during the North American summer and the Eastern Standard Time Zone during the North American winter. Similarly; Ecuador is CET (Central European Time) minus 6 hours (minus 7 hours in European summer).

Voltage
120 V (like in the United States)
Japanese plug with two flat vertical plugs

Back to Top

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


INFORMATION ABOUT QUITO CITY:

Quito Facts
Population: 1.4 million
Elevation: 2850 meters (9300 feet). Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world
Distance from the Equator: 35 km (22 miles)
Average Daytime High Temperature: 20 Celsius (70 Fahrenheit)

spanish

High in the Ecuadorian Andes is the ancient, but thriving, city of Quito. A walk through the old center, filled with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century mansions and churches, makes the city’s historical roots quickly apparent. Those roots go back even further than the beautiful colonial buildings suggest. For hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived, Quitu people occupied the land on which Quito now sits. In the fifteenth century, the Incas arrived, and the city was subsumed into one of the largest empires the world has ever seen. In 1526, as the conquistadors approached, the Incas set the city ablaze rather than let it fall into Spanish hands.

spanish

Eight years later, with just 200 colonists, Quito was re-founded by the Spanish. In the two-hundred-and-fifty years that followed, the city grew and religious orders and wealthy settlers constructed beautiful churches and palaces, many of which still stand today. In 1809, the Quiteños issued their first declaration of independence. Spain put down the rebellion, but Quito, and later Ecuador, won its freedom when the Spanish soldiers were defeated on the slopes of Volcán Pichincha, overlooking the city. The date of the battle, May 24th, 1822, is still celebrated throughout the country. Independence did not bring stability or peace, however. As part of Gran Colombia, and later as part of an independent Ecuador, Quito fought with the coastal city of Guayaquil for dominance, before emerging early in the twentieth century as the undisputed capital. In the 1940´s, the city spread north from its historic center, and new districts like La Mariscal began to grow. Booms in the agriculture and petroleum industries funded construction of new infrastructure and modern neighborhoods, complete with shopping malls and the other comforts found in Europe and North America.

spanish

Today Quito stands as one of the most diverse and beautiful cities in the Americas. It is a place where indigenous women in traditional clothing share the sidewalk with dark-suited businesspeople, bohemian students, and tourists. The old colonial heart is still intact, its narrow streets abuzz with activity as vendors from the highlands ply their goods in traditional markets. Visitors can admire the opulent gilded interior of the La Compañía church, climb high atop the steeple of the Basilica del Voto Nacional, see re-creations of the city’s major events at the Museo de la Ciudad, and admire scores of other well-preserved colonial buildings. Downtown, La Mariscal is Ecuador’s cultural capital. Here, you’ll find the Museo del Banco Central, containing the nation’s most treasured possessions: priceless ceramics and metalwork from all of Ecuador’s pre-Colombian peoples, masterpieces of colonial art, especially from the famed Quito School, and works from Ecuador’s justifiably-lauded modern artists. La Mariscal also houses all the banks, restaurants, hotels, laundries, and bookstores that a visitor could need. North of La Mariscal lies the gigantic, leafy Parque La Carolina and several American-style shopping malls. Framing all of this are the hills that surround Quito, the most prominent of which is Rucu Pichincha, an emerald-green, extinct volcano that looms over La Mariscal at a height of nearly five thousand meters (sixteen-thousand feet).

spanish

When is the best time to visit?
The climate in Quito is comfortable but cool year round, with the wet season between November and May. Nearly every day in Quito has morning sun. In other areas of Ecuador, the rainy season varies according to the region. The oceans are warmest from December to May. But with its tropical climate, and different seasons in each region of the country, Ecuador is one of those few countries that has a pleasant climate year round.

What is the food like? Is it safe? How much can I expect to pay?
Quito has a variety of restaurants, offering international and Ecuadorian food, with prices ranging from the $1.50 “almuerzo” (lunch, including soup and main course) to expensive international restaurants in the Mariscal where prices can range up to $10-$15 for a full dinner at an upscale restaurant. Outside of Quito, food is much more basic, with rice, chicken, yucca, potatoes, and plantains being common staples in the smaller communities. Generally, the food in Quito and in Ecuador is safe, but some people can have occasional problems.

spanish

How easy is it to call home? What are the costs?
International phone calls are easy and inexpensive in the larger cities. Internet cafés offer the service for about $0.08-$0.15 per minute to most countries.

How good is public transportation in Ecuador?
Ecuador has an extensive bus system enabling you to travel nearly anywhere in the country easily and inexpensively. The local bus system in Quito is good, and taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. All are generally safe with the usual precautions.

What kind of clothing should I bring?
Travel to Ecuador usually includes a wide range of climates. Bring clothing for both warm and cold—and wet---weather. Synthetic fabrics are suggested, since they dry quickly in humid conditions and provide plenty of warmth for their weight. Jeans are fine in Quito, but in more humid areas are not recommended.

What's the best way to get money?
Quito has plenty of ATM machines that connect with nearly all international banks. Most other cities in Ecuador have several as well. Travelers checks, because of problems with forgeries, are difficult to cash and usually require a commission. For travel to smaller communities, ATM’s are not common, so you should bring sufficient cash for your stay. Avoid bringing bills larger than $20 since they can be difficult to change.

spanish

Back to Top

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Visit our Schools: