Ecuador is perhaps one of the smallest countries of the Americas but it still is the most impressive place to visit for the different biodiversity offered in its four well marked regions, Coast or lowlands, Sierra or highlands, Oriente or Amazon Rain Forest and the unique Galapagos Islands.
 
Ecuador Regions
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Ecuador Regions

The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km west of continental Ecuador. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site: wildlife is its most notable feature.

The Galápagos Islands form the Galápagos Province of Ecuador and are part of the country's national park system. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of around 40,000, which is a 40-fold expansion in 50 years.

The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

The first crude navigation chart of the islands was done by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684. He named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates or after the English noblemen who helped the privateer's cause. More recently, the Ecuadorian government gave most of the islands Spanish names. While the Spanish names are official, many users (especially ecological researchers) continue to use the older English names, particularly as those were the names used when Charles Darwin visited.

THE ANDES FOR ECUADOR

The sierra consists of the Andean and Interandean highland provinces - Azuay, Cañar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Imbabura, Loja, Pichincha, and Tungurahua. This land contains most of Ecuador's volcanoes and all of its snow-capped peaks. Agriculture is focussed on the traditional crops of potato, maize, and quinua and the population is predominantly indigenous Kichua. The largest sierran city is Quito.

The Andean region (also known as the Sierra and the Highlands) is the most visited region in the country. Its cultural and natural diversity spans grassy highlands (páramo), cloudforests, mountain lakes, active volcanoes, thermal baths, Indian markets, colonial towns and haciendas. Running the length of Ecuador and splitting the country into two from north to south the mountains and valleys of the high Andes form the heart of Ecuador. Quito, the capital of the country, is located at 2,900 meters in a valley on the western slopes of Pichincha volcano where you can find countless cities and towns to visit and stay at, as one travels north to south in the highlands.

THE COAST

The coastal region consists of the provinces to the West of the Andean range - Bolívar, Esmeraldas, Guayas, Los Ríos, Manabí, El Oro, Santa Elena and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. It is the country's most fertile and productive land, and is the seat of the large banana exportation plantations of the companies Dole and Chiquita. This region is also where most of Ecuador's rice crop is grown. The truly coastal provinces have active fisheries. The largest coastal city is Guayaquil.

If you haven't visited the coast of Ecuador, you haven't experienced Ecuador! The beautiful tropical climate combined with the energetic and vibrant people makes a completely different world than any other part of the country. This place will blow you away!
With an average temperature ranging from 24ºC (80ºF) to 32ºC (96ºF) and the ocean temperatures are perfect for swimming, making this region have a classic tropical beach atmosphere. The thatch-roof bars in the sand and shading spots of the palm trees on the beach are just some of the typical scenes here.

THE AMAZON BASIN OF ECUADOR

The Ecuadorian Amazon Basin, know as the Oriente, is without a doubt natures greatest achievement and it's great expanse contains more than 20% of the earth's vascular plant species. One Amazonian tree can host more ant species than all of the British Isles put together and in one hectare of forest there are as many frog species as all of North America. There are nine tribal groups sharing this rainforest, many of whom still live a traditional lifestyle and some of whom have avoided completely contact with out siders.

The oriente consists of the Amazon jungle provinces - Morona Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Sucumbíos, and Zamora-Chinchipe. This region is primarily made up of the huge Amazon national parks and indigenous intangible zones, which are vasts stretches of land set aside for the Amazon indigenous tribes to continue living traditionally. It is also the area with the largest reserves of petroleum in Ecuador, and parts of the upper Amazon here have been extensively exploited by petroleum companies. The population is primarily mixed indigenous Shuar, Huaorani and Kichua, although there are numerous tribes in the deep jungle which are little-contacted. The largest city in the Oriente is probably Lago Agrio in Sucumbíos, although Macas in Morona Santiago runs a close second.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

The insular region of Ecuador consists of the Galápagos Islands.

There are 13 major islands which make up the Galápagos Archipelago and lie about 970 km (600 miles) from mainland Ecuador. This incredibly unique place is home to plant and animal species which are studied and admired by the whole world.

In 1959, with the intention to preserve the original ecology and to control the introduction of new and potentially harmful species, 90% of the land surface and all of the ocean out to the national limits was designated a national park, known as the Galápagos National Park.