Ecuador is a real sustainable paradise. Its commitment on protecting natural, cultural, and human megadiversity is the main goal of this country, which leads sustainable tourism in Latin America. In fact, the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) together with National Geographic Traveler magazine gave Ecuador the Gold Odyssey Award in the category “Travel to a better World Awards” for Ecuador’s advertising focused on sustainable tourism.
While only the size of the state of Nevada, Ecuador is considered to be among the 17 most diverse countries in the world, and its geographical, biological, and cultural diversity is unparalleled. Here, visitors can admire the snow-capped Andes mountains, explore the wonders of the Amazon rainforest, surf the waves along the sun soaked Pacific beaches, and visit the legendary Galapagos Islands.
Located in a privileged part of the planet, in the northwest of South America and on the Equator, Ecuador shares borders with Colombia to the north, and Peru to the south and east. Ecuador is divided into four different worlds, including the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific Coast, the Highlands (Northern and Southern Andes), and the Amazon. It contains 33 natural state-protected reserves and extensive tropical forests that are home to approximately 1,640 species of birds; 4,500 species of butterflies, 345 species of reptiles, 358 species of amphibians, and 258 species of mammals, amongst others. The Sangay and Galapagos National Parks, as well as the Galapagos Marine Reserve, have been declared UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites.
Ecuador is also home to a diverse assortment of people hailing from 27 different ethnic backgrounds, including 13 indigenous groups, in addition to its majority mestizo population. Colorful fiestas, fine handicrafts, and delicious traditional cuisine also attest to the rich diversity of the country.
A true example in sustainable tourism, Ecuador is committed to protecting its natural, cultural, and human mega-diversity. Through such initiatives as its “Best Management Practices” program, established in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, the country has established a sustainable tourism infrastructure that works to conserve its wildlife, environment, and protect its native cultures.
In its wildly different landscapes, small and large, unique and colorful cities have grown. Situated in an Andean Mountain valley, Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is two cities in one. Quito’s “old town” is the largest and best-preserved historic colonial center in Latin America, and its model “new city” is a bustling business and cultural center full of attractions. Cuenca, located in the Southern Andes, is home to beautiful colonial architecture, and some of the country’s most impressive art museums. It is also situated in close proximity to a number of historical pre-Colombian archaeological sites.
Both Quito and Cuenca were declared UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites for their beautiful colonial centers. Meanwhile, Guayaquil, the country’s principal port, is a thriving metropolis in which the flavor of the coast, tropical attractions, beaches, history, and the archaeology of the most ancient peoples of the Americas combine with the best urban avant-garde designs. Guayaquil has been renowned by the UN as a model for urban development for its innovative urban renewal projects which have restored many of this city’s historical neighborhoods, parks, avenues, transportation systems, ports and squares.
The city of Loja, located in Southern Ecuador, boasts numerous attractions, including its numerous cultural festivals, a quaint colonial center, the Petrified Forest of Puyango, and the indigenous community of the Saraguro. Vilcabamba, the “Valley of Longevity” is located just south of Loja, and is famous for the long lifespan enjoyed by its locals. The Podocarpus National Park is also a paradise for nature lovers and bird watchers alike.
Mountains and Snow-Capped Peaks. Jungle and Forests. Beaches and Sea. Unique islands. Cities and Towns. Culture. Thousands of species of flora and fauna…