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Ecuador geography

Ecuador geography, Cotopaxi volcano

Despite its small size. Ecuador is one of the world's most varied countries. At 283,560 sq km, it is about the size of New Zealand or the US state of Nevada, and it's somewhat larger than the UK. Ecuador straddles the equator on the Pacific coast of South America and is bordered by Colombia to the north and Peru to the south and east. The country is divided three regions.

Ecuador has three main geographic regions (Costa, Sierra, Oriente), plus an insular region (Galapagos) in the Pacific Ocean.


Ecuador’s coastal region, also known as the western lowlands, is made up of fertile plains, rolling hills and rivers that run from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. All five coastal provinces have attractive beaches and plenty of hotels and resorts for tourists. The tropical beaches of Guayas, Manabí and Esmeraldas Provinces are popular with both international and local tourists.


The Andes (Sierra) are composed of two volcanic ranges separated by a central valley in which the bulk of the population lives. The highlands also contain the nation's highest mountain, Chimborazo, whose 6310m (20,700ft) peak stands out - thanks to Earth's equatorial bulge - as the farthest point from the center of the planet. Close to Quito, Mt. Cotopaxi is the tallest active volcano in the world at 5910m (19,390ft). Colonial cities, small Andean villages and dozens of Indian Markets give this region its unique cultural heritage.


The Oriente (Amazon Region) and its five provinces can be geographically divided into two sub regions: the High Amazon and the Amazon Lowlands. The Highlands is comprised of the Andean foothills which slowly descend towards the Amazon River Basin. Here, you’ll find the Napo, Galeras, Cutucú, and Cóndor ranges. The most impressive elevated regions of this area are in the north and include Volcano Sumaco. The Lowlands, found further to east, are home to some of the nation’s most beautiful and important rivers: the Putumayo, the Napo, and the Pastaza.


The Archipelago of Colón (commonly known as the Galapagos Islands) is made up of 13 main islands, 17 islets, and dozens of ancient rock formations ( table: map of the islands). The volcanically formed islands, encompassing an area of 8,000 kilometers in all, lies roughly 1,000 kilometers off the coast of the Ecuadorian mainland. Apart from its beautiful beaches and unique and varied ecosystems, the Galapagos Islands are home to towering active volcanoes that reach altitudes up to 1,600 meters.


Ecuador's climate consists of wet and dry seasons, with significant variation among the different geographical regions.

The Galapagos and the coast are influenced by ocean currents. The warm central Pacific current causes a hot, rainy, humid season from January through April, when torrential downpours often disrupt communications. Daytime high temperatures average 30°C (86°F), and this is when locals visit the beach to cool off. From May to December, cool currents from the south keep temperatures a few degrees lower, and it rarely rains, although it is often gray, damp and overcast, especially in July and August.

The highland dry season is from June through September, with another short, dry season around Christmas. It doesn't rain daily in the wet season, however. April, the wettest month, averages one rainy day in: two. Daytime temperatures in Quito aver-age a high of 21 °C (70°F) and a low of 8°C (48°F) year-round.

In the Oriente, it rains during most months, especially during the afternoon and evening. August and December through March are usually the driest months, and April through June are the wettest - with regional variations. lt's almost as hot as the coast.

Remember the Ecuadorian adage that all four seasons can be experienced in one day, and the most predictable aspect of Ecuador's weather is its unpredictability.


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