Ecuador is often described as a “South America in miniature” because this small country contains all the diverse landscapes of the continent packed together in one country: the beautiful beaches on the Pacific coast, the impressive Andes Cordillera, the diverse Galapagos Islands, and a portion of the largest jungle in the world, the Amazon Basin.
Ecuador is divided into four geographic regions: the Coast, comprising just over a quarter of the country; the Sierra, which extends in a double row of mountains and a narrow uninhabited plateau known as the inter-Andean valley; the East or Amazon region, east of the Andes; and the Insular region, aka the Galapagos.
The Coast is a region that is located to the west of the Cordillera de los Andes and is crossed from north to south by a mountainous chain of minor height, full of extensive alluvial plains. The Ecuadorian Coast is formed by three main ecosystems: the tropical rainforests of the north, the tropical savannas of the central and southwest regions; and the dry forest of the western and southern peninsula.
Along the coastal littoral are distinguished two additional ecosystems characterized by their animal and vegetable communities: the entrances of mangrove and other areas, and the beaches and cliffs known for their peculiar rock formations.
The average temperature that prevails in the Coast is of 22º C (71.6º F). The winter lasts from December to May and the summer from June to December. The warm current known as Niño Stream causes an increase in rainfall rates between January and May.
Those who have never visited Ecuador often imagine it as a jungle land that is in the middle of the world, however, the ‘’Cordillera de los Andes’’ represents a large area of the country, with volcanoes rising to the sky, the Cordillera divides the Ecuador into two wooded plains with a narrow intermediate strip bordered by the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.”
Here, one can find flora and fauna of indescribable richness that have adapted to the low temperatures, the strong winds, the intense ultraviolet radiance, the rain, the hail, the snow and the great heights.
In the Sierra, the rainy season or winter lasts from October to May, with an average annual temperature that varies from 12º C (53.6º F) to 18º C (64.4º F). However, the daily variation can be extreme, with very hot days and very cold nights. And yet, some people refer to the climate of the Sierra as an “eternal spring”.
The Ecuadorian Amazon extends over an area of 120,000 km² (74,564 miles²) of exuberant vegetation typical of tropical rainforests. The Andes Cordillera forms the western boundary of this region, while Peru and Colombia form the southern and eastern boundaries respectively. The Amazonian rivers have washed from the Andes a great amount of materials, forming alluvial soils and terraces that are used for agriculture.
The average annual temperature ranges from 24° C (75.2º F) to 25° C (77º F). Although the months of December to February are the driest, throughout the year they are evenly distributed of 300cm (118 inches) and 400cm (157 inches) of rain.
Visit the Galapagos Islands means exploring nature in its pristine, purest state. So much so that they motivated the young English naturalist Charles Darwin, who visited the islands in 1835, to write his famous book entitled The Origin of Species and the world has not been the same since.
Located at 1,000km (621 miles), far from the coast of Ecuador, this mysterious and fascinating archipelago is composed of 13 large islands, six small islands and more than 40 islets. The entire archipelago has a total length of 8,010km (4,977 miles).
A large part of the archipelago is south of the Equator, where several marine currents converge. In short, the Galapagos are the fusion of all the elements necessary to create a zoological, botanical and geological wonder at the same time.
The islands emerged from the Pacific Ocean five million years ago, as a result of underwater volcanic eruptions. It is the lava formations and the volcanic rock that gives the tourist the impression of being “in another world” when he visits the Galapagos.
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