Straddling the equator in western South America, Ecuador has territories in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. It borders Colombia to the north and shares a border Peru to the south and to the east. The Pacific Ocean is Ecuador’s western border. Ecuador, 256,370 square kilometers in size, is geographically divided into four regions (the Amazon, the Highlands, the Coast, and the Galapagos Islands) and is politically split into 24 provinces, which, in turn, are split into 221 cantons. The coastal provinces (from north to south) are Esmeraldas, Manabí, Los Ríos, Guayas, Santa Elena, and El Oro. Highlands’s provinces are Imbabura, Pichincha, Carchi, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Chimborazo, in the north, and Bolívar, Cañar, Azuay and Loja, in the south. The Amazon is comprised of the provinces (from north to south) of Sucumbíos, Napo, Pastaza, Orellana, Morona-Santiago and Zamora-Chinchipe. Ecuador’s 24th province is the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador’s coastal region (a.k.a. the western lowlands) is made up of fertile plains, rolling hills, and sedimentary basins traversed by a plethora of rivers that rush from the heights of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. All six coastal provinces, encompassing 640 kilometers of coastline between them, have attractive beaches and plenty of hotels and resorts for tourists. Crisscrossed by an expansive network of rivers and home to the nation’s most spectacular beaches, the provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabí, and Guayas are quite impressive destinations frequented by tourists from all over the world. Geographically speaking, much of this area is part of the Guayas River Basin, which has at least twelve major tributaries located primarily near the communities of Daule, Babahoyo, Macul, Puca, Paján, and Colimes.
The Andes Mountain Range crosses the country from north to south. The Occidental and the Oriental Ranges are born from this mountain system as it divides in the province of Loja, forming plains and valleys along the Andean Corridor. Between the two ranges there is a plateau which reaches heights of three thousand meters. The Highlands Regions, commonly referred to as La Sierra, is made up of ten provinces, each of which have important peaks such as Chimborazo, the Illinizas, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Antisana. The highest peaks are found in central and northern Ecuador. From Riobamba towards the south there is a decrease in altitude and an increase in the width of the mountain range, forming a kind of plateau known as the Austro.
The Amazon Region and its five provinces can be geographically divided into two sub regions: the High Amazon and the Amazon Lowlands. The Highlands is comprised of the Andean foothills which slowly descend towards the Amazon River Basin. Here, you’ll find the Napo, Galeras, Cutucú, and Cóndor ranges. The most impressive elevated regions of this area are in the north and include Volcano Sumaco. The Lowlands, found further to the east, are home to some of the nation’s most beautiful and important rivers: the Putumayo, the Napo, and the Pastaza.
The Archipelago of Colón (commonly known as the Galapagos Islands) is made up of 13 main islands, 6 smaller islands and 107 islets. The volcanically formed islands, encompassing an area of 8,000 kilometers in all, lies roughly 1,000 kilometers off the coast of the Ecuadorian mainland. Apart from its beautiful beaches and unique and varied ecosystems, the Galapagos Islands are home to towering active volcanoes that reach altitudes up to 1,700 meters.
Here is an example of a travel through Ecuador with a combination of culture and nature, of relaxing and adventure. Travels like this take you to different regions in Ecuador, as described above, with different cultures and climates. The landscape changes quickly while driving the mountain roads and you are able to see a great diversity of flora and fauna. Therefore traveling through Ecuador is always a special experience you will never forget.
We offer various travel packages in the Andes & Amazon. Click here for more information.