Information about Ecuador and Andean culture

The Country


The country can be divided into four regions: the western coastal lowlands, the central Andean highlands, the eastern jungles of the Amazon basin and - some 1000km (620mi) west of the mainland - the Galapagos Islands. The western lowlands - once thick with forests - are today blanketed by banana, palm and cacao farms. The Andean highlands - the country's backbone - are composed of two volcanic ranges separated by a central valley in which the bulk of the population lives.   


The Nature


                    Ecuador is one of the most species-rich nations on earth. Dubbed by ecologists a 'mega-diversity hotspot,' it boasts 300 species of mammal alone, including monkeys, sloths, llamas and alpacas. Birdwatchers come from all over to gawk at the famous Andean condor, but there are plenty of other bird species, and about half of the 58 species found on the Galapagos Islands are endemic. Ecuador's freshwater fish are equally exotic, though most visitors prefer to experience from a distance the amazing qualities of electric eels, stingrays, piranhas and the tiny candiru catfish - a little charmer who swims up the human urethra and lodges itself in place with the help of its sharp spines.



The people


Eleven different peoples make up Ecuador's Indigenous population. By far the largest of these is the Andean Quichua. The Amazon basin’s indigenous culture still thrives within the rainforest, despite increasing pressures from the industrialized world. In addition to the numerous native cultures, Ecuador is home to a Mestizo culture, and a sizable Afro-Ecuadorian culture, the descendants of African slaves who worked on coastal sugar plantations in the sixteenth century.



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