Ecuador Geography

Looking at Ecuador Geography we see that this country is located on the northwest edge of South America.


Ecuador is bordered on the North by Colombia, on the East and South by Peru and on the West by the Pacific Ocean.

Ecuadorian territory is bisected North to South by the Andes Mountain Range which divides it into three natural regions, each with its own different characteristics.

In addition to the Coast, the Highlands and the Amazon river basin (Oriente) on the mainland, Ecuador has a fourth region: the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador geography and topography ranges from sea level up to over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) at the Andean snow caps.

Although Ecuador is located in the heart of the tropics, it is altitude not latitude that determines its temperatures.

In Ecuador's varied climate, travelers feel quiet pronounced differences moving just few minutes, either up to the chilly heights or down to the warm coastal and hot Amazon jungles.

Ecuador geography is divided into 24 provinces: 6 on the Coast, 11 in the Sierra (Highlands), 6 in the Amazon region and 1 for the Galapagos Archipelago.

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Ecuador Geography of the Coast Region

The Provinces of the Coast are: Esmeraldas, Manabi, Los Rios, Guayas, Santa Elena and El Oro. The region lies west of the Andes Mountains, under 600 Mt. (2,000 feet) above sea level.

It is 180 km (112 miles) wide at the latitude of Guayaquil, narrowing to 100 km (60 miles) north of Santo Domingo, in Manabi and Esmeraldas, and only 20-40 km (12-24 miles) in El Oro, at the south.

Its area is 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles). The coast has minor mountain ranges, Chongon and Colonche, in Guayas province, with altitudes up to 700 and 800 Mt. (2,300-2,600 feet).

One of the main features in Ecuador geography of this region is the number of deltas, canals and flood lands, formed by several rivers flowing through.

The direction of inland waterways on the Coast is unique, the only part of the Pacific Coast of South America where the rivers run parallel to the Andes (the Guayas river and its two tributaries, the Daule and Babahoyo rivers, for some 200 km (125 miles).

The main cities are: Esmeraldas, Portoviejo, Manta, Bahia, Machala and Guayaquil which is Ecuador's main port and the largest city. The average temperature in these cities range from 75 to 86 F (24 to 30 C).

Around six million people (49.91% of the country's total population) live on the coast. Approximately two million people live in Guayaquil.

The Coast currently produces almost all the country's agricultural exports as well as grains, vegetables oil and meat for the Ecuadorian market. In addition to farming, there is logging, fishing and shrimp farming. Shrimp ranks second in Ecuador's non-oil exports, after bananas only.

In 1998, the El Niño Stream affected this region. There was lots of rain and floods all over the area. Many lives, plantations, houses and animals were lost and many millions of dollars were lost as well.

But the country recovered from this natural phenomenon and everything went back to normal and prevention from future disasters was taken.

Ecuador Geography of the Andean Region (Sierra)

This region is composed by the Provinces of Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Bolivar, Chimborazo, Cañar, Azuay, Loja and Santo Domingo de Los Tsachilas (Newest).

The Sierra is Ecuador's geographical heartland, lying between the western and central ranges of the Ecuadorian Andes.

This high, rolling plateau runs north-south between the Coast and the Amazon Rain Forest at an average altitude of about 2,500 Mt. (8,000 feet), 700 km (440 miles) long, but no more than 70 km (44 miles) wide.

The Sierra is subdivided by mountainous knots that tie the two ranges together, forming small hydro-graphic basins. The main river from each basin may flow toward the Pacific Ocean or feed the Amazon, through deep gorges in the mountain range.

This region has a population of more than five million people (44.56% of the nation's total). The largest cities are Quito (the capital city), Cuenca, Ambato, Loja, Riobamba, Ibarra and all the other provincial capital cities.

The average temperature in the Sierra (Highlands) is around 60F (13-15 C). There is extensive farming and ranching.

Quito City has traditionally been an important cultural and handicrafts center. And, since the seventies local and foreign companies have developed greatly in trade and finance.

Quito is also Ecuador's second largest industrial city, with many food, textiles, wood products and consumer goods factories.

In Ecuador geography, the provinces of Imbabura, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Chimborazo and Azuay are important agricultural and crafts producers. Their native populations carry out these activities on an individual scale.

Tourism has flourished in these provinces during the last few years, although much more remains to be developed in order to do justice to the natural beauty of these provinces.

Ecuador Geography of the Amazon Region

This region is composed by the Provinces of Sucumbios, Napo, Pastaza, Morona Santiago, Orellana and Zamora Chinchipe.

The forested jungle region has been settled by farmers along the slopes of the eastern range of the Andes, where entry roadways have been built along the rivers descending form the Sierra (Highlands).

Settlement of this region has extended gradually along its rivers, especially the Napo River, where since the seventies oil companies' roads have opened the way for small farmers to homestead.

This area includes the oilfields which provide over 60% of the country's foreign exchange earnings. Additionally, there is some farming, ranching and logging.

Ecuadorian Amazon Rain Forest is a natural habitat of exceptional exuberance, inhabited for a long time only by Indian tribes, whose rights have been recognized by the Ecuadorian Government

Most of the estimated 80,000 natives live along the riverbanks, but wander throughout their jungle territory hunting, fishing and growing manioch root, bananas and a number of other different tubers and tropical fruits.

Nearly 700,000 people live in the Amazon region (4.7% of the nation's total) in an area of 130,000 square km (50,000 square miles). There are roads, airports, hotels and other facilities and thus tourism I growing rapidly.

Tours to the Amazon Jungle are organized from Quito, especially to the province of Napo and the unrivaled natural beauty of its numerous rivers.

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Ecuador Geography of the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are on the equator, 1000 km (600 miles) from Ecuador's coastline. The Archipelago enjoys a very special climate because of the ocean currents, especially the cold Humboldt current.

They were declared a National Park in 1936, to preserve the flora and fauna of the 13 large islands, 6 minor ones and more than 40 islets. The origin of the Galapagos Islands is volcanic.

The Islands appeared from lava eruptions that came from the bottom of the ocean and that rise as much as 2,600 feet above sea level.

The Galapagos Islands have grown to a population of about 18,000 inhabitants. The main Islands are San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Isabela, and the main city of the Archipelago is Port Baquerizo Moreno

There are two airports for flights to the mainland (on Baltra and San Cristobal) and another small airport for inter-island flights. See More Information About Flights to Galapagos Islands

Tourism from all over the world is controlled in order to safeguard the Islands' ecology. The "Enchanted Islands" as the Galapagos Islands are known, are a national park, and Ecuador's authorities make great efforts to preserve these natural treasures.

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If you have any questions about Ecuador Geography or if you'd like to request more information about our Galapagos Island Tours to visit this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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