Ecuador In Context
The flag of Ecuador - yellow, blue and red horizontal stripes with coat of arms
Blue, green and white hummingbird in flight in Ecuador
A Catholic church in Ecuador

Useful Spanish Vocabulary:
bandera: flag
Linea Equinoccial: Equator

Orchid, one of many in Ecuador
The Equator monument at Mitad del Mundo in Ecuador
Woman in traditional costume in Otavalo market, Ecuador

Ecuador In Context

Ecuador's history has resulted in a fascinating culture.  It is situated in Latin America, straddling the Equator, below Colombia and above Peru.  Though it is a relatively small country, Ecuador has an astonishingly high level of biodiversity.  For example, there are around 1600 species of birds here, approximately half of all the bird species found in South America.  This compares to around 260 bird species in the UK and about 1000 in the whole of Europe.  There are over 17,000 types of plants in Ecuador - more than in the whole of Europe - and one in every four of these plant species is an orchid. 
The population of Ecuador is around 14 million people, including several very different ethnic groups in the rainforests and the highlands, each with their own culture and traditions.  There is a steady flow of emigrants, many to Spain and the United States of America, seeking to escape from Ecuador's poverty, or at least to make some money before returning home to retire.  This is creating serious social problems with abandoned children and elderly people struggling to cope without the support of their families.  However, it does also create an inflow of money from overseas which is an important part of the Ecuadorian economy.
Spanish is the official language of Ecuador.  Many of the indigenous peoples speak dialects such as Quichua.  Quito is an ideal location to learn Spanish.  There are many Spanish schools and the local people tend to speak clearly and relatively slowly.  The accents in the coastal areas are much stronger and people speak faster, making it more difficult for beginners to understand.  Few people outside of the main tourist areas speak English, so the more Spanish you can speak and understand, the more you will enjoy your trip to Ecuador.
The history of humans in this region goes back to around 10,000 BC.  Many different early cultures including the Las Vegas, the Valdivia, the Machalilla and the La Tolita culture, waxed and waned over thousands of years.  The Inca Empire was at its most powerful early in the 16th Century, until the Spanish Conquest in 1532.  After the repression of the colonial era and a brief stint as part of Gran Colombia, the new Republic of Ecuador was declared in 1830.  The political history of the republic has been turbulent, unsurprisingly considering the wide cultural differences between the various groups who make up the population.   
See Public Holidays and Christmas & New Year in Ecuador for more about local traditions, festivals and holidays.  Discover the symbolism of the Ecuador Flag.  Find out about Ecuador's various traditional costumes.  More about Ecuador's culture, history and traditions will follow.
Ecuador In Context
Ecuador's culture, Ecuador history, social & geographic information about Ecuador.