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Geography

In a nutshell

The country of Ecuador is unique in its diversity of fauna and extremely rich flora.

It is composed of four distinct geographic regions: La Sierra, the mountainous central Andean belt; La Costa, the western coastal area bordering the Pacific Ocean; Oriente, the tropical Amazonian part; and the legendary Galapagos Islands.

All this diversity is concentrated in the smallest country in South America (283,560 km2, half the size of France), located between Colombia to the north and Peru to the south, with a population of 13.8 million.

However, it has the highest population density of any country in South America, with 47 people per square kilometer.

A third of the population lives in the country’s three main cities: Quito, the country’s constitutional capital located in La Sierra; Guayaquil, the economic center, located on the coast; and Cuenca. 65% of the population is urban.

According to UN-HABITAT, up to 85% of South Americans live in urban areas, but Ecuador is one of the only countries that still has a significant rural population.

However, distribution of the population is still fairly uneven throughout the country. It is concentrated in urban areas and the rural Andes mountains. Oriente is lightly populated, and part of the coastal region is deserted. Nevertheless, the population gap between La Sierra and the Andes is narrowed by the three million residents in the city of Guayaquil, versus two million in the capital.

Finally, Ecuador is subject to major natural disasters. Ecuadorians are affected by El Niño (a cyclic weather phenomenon) as well as regular volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.

In the words of an Ecuadorian

"Our territory is set, as we all know, in the middle of the planet (Equator), a tropical area. The Coast, from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the inland, is sunny and warm, and this climate generates a high-level of productivity of the land.

The Andean range does not only constitute an area in itself (called « La Sierra »), whose soils are located high in altitude: but it also shelters fertile hills where the climate is mild, situated at the foothills of huge mountains and volcanoes where it is permanently cold.

The Eastern part of the country, called « El Oriente» represents a small part of the global area of South-American Amazonia, but it contains more than 50 % of its ecological diversity.

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most important places in the world, in terms of biological and environmental research, with its specific species living on the archipelago.

Thus, the wealth of Ecuador's diversity can be found not only in its population, but also in its climates,and geographic and environmental resources." [1]

More information

Geography of Ecuador

Pictures of Ecuador

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[1] In : ECUADOR: UNIDAD EN LA DIVERSIDAD, de Enrique Ayala Mora