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The country of Ecuador has 22 provinces, 10 spreading out from the highlands, 6 in the Amazon region, a further 5 in the coastal areas and the Galapagos islands. Within these 22 provinces the country is divided into 3 distinct regions which are straddled with the Andes Mountain range, the backbone of Ecuador that traverses the country from north to south as well as dividing it into the Costa (western coastal lowlands); the Oriente (eastern jungles of the higher Amazon); the Sierra (Highlands, Andes) and the Archipelago of Galapagos forming the fourth region respectively.

From the map below, select the region you'd like to explore.

GalapagosOrienteSierraCosta

 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Costa (Coastline)
The pacific coastline of the Western lowlands is situated between the pacific ocean and the Andean mountain range and extends some 300 miles beginning in Esmeraldas spreading all the way down to El Oro. The latter province along with Manabi and Los Rios provinces are the major farmed areas due to their rich agricultural lands while other areas have been the home to many fishing villages throughout the entire coastline. The rest of the coastal areas have various Marshes, mangrove forests, tourist resorts along with beautiful beaches as well as major ports for exporting and importing produce.

Guayaquil
is the major port in Ecuador as well as the commercial capital and largest city in the country and in addition sports a magnificent riverfront walk called the "Malecón" which runs parallel to the Rio Guayas and houses 100s of shops, restaurants, bars and architectural delights including famous monuments encased in various greenery as well as a tree lined avenue adjacent.

The major beach resorts in the southern central area worth visiting are Montañita, famous for surfing, Salinas the jewel of the coastline, Manta, Bahía de Caráquez, Puerto López and Puerto Bolivar. Many of the beaches are sandy and Palm fringed as well as having all year round warm waters for swimming in comparison to other countries such as Peru and Chile who's waters are much cooler depending on the time of year.

Finally to the north lies the Province of Esmeraldas which is much hotter and humid and wetter and is home to a large afro-Ecuadorian culture and from their food to their Marimba dance festival along with their bamboo more rustic accommodations the ambiance is unique within the coastal lowlands and well worth a visit.

Ecuador Travel Guide More about "The Coast"

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 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Sierra (Highlands, Andes)
The sierra as well as being a bio-natural diverse region of untamable, flared volcanoes, thermal baths emanating from the former, wild animals (many endemic), serene wild landscapes, cloud forests, Paramo highlands which with its spongy terrain soaks up and distributes much of the water to the local sierra inhabitants as well as being culturally of great interest due to its wide cultures that span the Andes along with its Indian markets and colonial flavor older areas.

It is also one of the most popular and frequented areas for travelers and tourists on their checklist of places to visit in Ecuador.
The sierra is also home to Quito capital of Ecuador which is sandwiched in between the western slopes of Guagua Pichincha volcano standing at a colossal 4790m and also flanked by the canyons on the eastern side and runs north to south in a narrow valley basin which bridges both the older colonial and newer city.

Further south lies the nations third largest city of Cuenca, an architectural delight with its own unique culture while to the north of Cuenca runs another unique culture and major market town Otavalo, as well as the tourist center of Baños up from another major city Ambato, which has daily excursions via jeep, horseback rides as well as bicycle tours and beautiful treks.

The Sierra is comprised of the western and eastern ranges of the Andes spectacular mountains with the Cordillera Occidental chain to the west and the Cordillera Oriental chain to the east.

Ecuador Travel Guide More about "The Andes"

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 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Oriente (Amazon)
To the eastern foothills of the Andes mountain range lies the Amazon deep tropical rain forests who's rivers are fed and previously formed through the melting snow from the volcanoes populating the area. The vegetation along with the animal and bird life contained in this region are rich in both numbers and species.

The traveler is easily welcomed into this rich bio-diverse jungle of colorful attraction through easily accessible passages and well defined tourist logistics although the travelers will definitely flavor and respect the eco-tourism, conservation and preserving cultural ways is still forefront of those running the area.

In backing the later observation up most of the proportion of the Oriente (northern) which takes in the provinces of Sucumbíos, Orellana, Napo, and Pastaza are areas of conservation, examples being Yasuní National Park, the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve.

The Southern Oriente, made up of the provinces of Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe is in contrast not as built up in tourist infrastructures which is largely attributable to the lack of access points and is much heavier going than the northern sectors.

Ecuador Travel GuideMore about "The Amazon"

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 Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos islands in the archipelago are the most spectacular and unique islands on the face of the earth and lie approximately 970km to the west of the Ecuadorian Pacific coastline.

The six major islands where most tourism and inhabitants live are San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana. Santiago and Fernandina are completely uninhabited. In addition there are further 12 small islands namely Baltra and the uninhabited islands of Santa Fé, Pinzón, Española, Rábida, Daphne, Seymour, Genovesa, Marchena, Pinta, Darwin and Wolf and 40 other smaller islets also spread throughout the archipelago.

The islands are of course infamous for the varied and unique teeming fearless and friendly wildlife proliferating on the islands as well as the many endemic species such as the giant tortoise that have developed due to the islands remoteness during past by gone millenniums in addition to the flora and fauna that have developed independent of the more generic main land species.

The fish, sea-lions and penguins will also let you swim with them and are playful in friendship with their newly found playmates and in addition to the out of this world exotic volcanic lakes in shades of emerald green as well as live volcanic activity and spitting lava with cruises throughout the islands. This once in a life time experience is a must for visitors to Ecuador.

Ecuador Travel Guide More about Galapagos

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