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A Little About Ecuador

Ecuador, with a population of 14.5 million, is considered among the most mega-diverse countries in the world. In relation to its surface, Ecuador holds the greatest amount of species of plants and animals on Earth. It occupies fourth place in bird diversity.

Ecuador's official language is Spanish. Its capital is Quito (3 ½ hours by plane from Miami). Its government is a Democratic Republic. The predominant religion is Roman Catholic, but there is complete religious freedom. The country is divided into four different zones: Amazon Basin, Andean Highlands (where Vilcabamba is located), Pacific Lowlands and Galapagos Islands. Since it is located right on the equator, the country as a whole experiences no extreme weather changes.

The currency is the US Dollar. Ecuador's local coins are equivalent to American pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and fifty-cent pieces, all of which are legal tender in Ecuador. Ecuador is located in the same time zone as the Eastern Time Zone of the United States, and it does not have daylight savings time. Ecuador welcomes Americans who seek residency. There is no income tax and very low property taxes. There is a consumption tax (sales tax) of 12%. Foreigners are permitted to own land in Ecuador, and many have done so happily for many years.

Lonely Planet writes:

Fabulous things come in small packages. Ecuador is the most diminutive of the Andean countries, yet it offers more physical and cultural diversity than almost any country on the planet . . . a country that is both exciting and easy to travel in.

Rough Guide writes:

Sitting on the equator between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean nations, covering an area no bigger than Nevada. For all its diminutive size, however, the country is packed with startling contrasts of scenery, from steaming tropical rainforests and windswept highlands to ice-capped volcanoes and palm-fringed beaches, all within easy reach of the capital, Quito.

In this land of bold contours and bright colours, you can find yourself beneath a canopy of dripping vegetation amongst clouds of neon-coloured butterflies one day, and in the highland market mixing with scarlet-ponchoed indígenas the next. . . [M]any regard Ecuador as a microcosm of South America, offering a pocket-sized version of almost everything one could hope to find on this bewitching continent.

Maureen O'Driscoll of International Living writes:

Ecuador is an inexpensive, healthful, safe country; one of Latin America's most popular destinations, with a spring-like climate year-round; and a friendly, polite, laid-back population.