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Saturday 18th November
Ecuador Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of Ecuador is in South America. It is bordered by Colombia and Peru and the Pacific Ocean. Its territory includes the Galapagos Islands.

Quito is the capital city and Guayaquil is Ecuador's main port.

The terrain is varied: Pacific Coastal Region, Andes Region and Amazon Region. Rivers include the Guayas and the Napo.

The climate is tropical but cooler at higher elevations.

Environment
Ecuador has a number of national parks and natural reserves. Its most famous National Park is the Galapagos National Park, a World Heritage site. The Galapagos Islands, one thousand kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, have been called a living museum and showcase of evolution.

In 1984 the Galapagos (Archipielago de Colon) became a Man and Biosphere Reserve. Other UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Ecuador are the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve and the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve and National Park.

Sangay National Park, in the central Andes, is also on the World Heritage List. Sangay is an example of Ecuador's varied terrain: grasslands, tropical rainforests, glaciers, and active volcanoes.

Architecture
The capital city of Quito was rebuilt by the Spanish in the sixteenth century. In 1533 the Incas destroyed Quito to prevent it falling into the hands of the Spanish; the new city was constructed on the ruins.

The historic centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca, founded in 1557, is also on the World Heritage List. Cuenca, in an Andean valley, is a Spanish Colonial town. Many of the buildings were constructed using local materials such as adobe.

Not far from Quito, the Cochasqui Archaeological Complex is a reminder of the Cara people. The ruins include the foundations of structures from the Caranqui civilization, built before the arrival of the Incas.

Population
The population of Ecuador was estimated at 15,007,343 in 2011.

A significant percentage of the people are mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European descent) and around twenty-five percent are Amerindian.

Languages
Spanish is the official language. Amerindian languages, particularly Quechua, are spoken.

Religion
The majority of the people are Roman Catholics.

Food
Potatoes, tomatoes and various beans are native to South America. Yucca (cassava) and squash are also grown. Maize, originally from Mexico, has been a staple food for thousands of years and is eaten in a variety of ways. Rice is served frequently with meat dishes and vegetables.

Fish is part of Ecuadorian cuisine. Ceviche, fish or shellfish marinated in lemon or lime juice, is eaten with popcorn, sweet potato chips, corn nuts and hot sauce (aji).

Soups and stews are popular and even served at breakfast. Other favourites are fried green bananas, filled tamales steamed in corn husks, and empanadas - cheese or meat pastries.

A variety of tropical fruits are available such as bananas, citrus fruits, custard apples, mangoes, papayas and pineapples.

Fruit juices include the juice of the slightly acidic naranjilla. Local alcoholic drinks are chica (fermented corn juice) and canelazo (hot alcohol with cinnamon). Coffee and cocoa are grown.

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