Ecuador is a country of incredible biodiversity; a haven for wildlife-lovers and adventure-holiday junkies.
The Galápagos Islands – a unique archipelago – are only one example of its many important ecosystems. A living museum of evolution – the 19 Islands and surrounding marine reserves are a melting pot of different species, including the weird but wonderful land iguana and the giant tortoise. Situated in the South Pacific, approximately 1,000km from the mainland of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are not-to-be-missed.
This Andean country is also home to the world's highest active volcano – Cotopaxi – and historic colonial cities such as Quito (which has been named a UNESCO world heritage site) Cuenca and Loja. The Pacific Ocean coastline boasts popular beaches such Esmeraldas and Bahia de Caraquez.
Ecuador Essential Information:
Major cities/towns: Cuenca, Banos, Loja, Sucumbios
Time Zone: GMT -5
Language: Spanish (primarily) with Amerindian languages such as Quechua also spoken. Learn the basics of Spanish at www.bbc.co.uk
Currency: Ecuador uses the US Dollar. For up-to-date exchange rates see: www.xe.com/ucc
International dialling code: +593
British Embassy: visit the website for information