The Leading Global Portal for Diplomats!    
    Keep in touch with the community Prepare for your new career Take care of personal affairs Chat with diplomats online      
Home > New Posting > Post Reports
Preface Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:55 PM

Ecuador is not a large country, but it offers a striking variety of climates, customs, and cultures. The high, wide Andean plateau, which dominates the country, has been both a highway and a resting place for the Incan, Spanish, and mestizo civilizations, which have shaped the nation’s history. The lowland Amazonian jungle east of the mountains, home of the Indian tribes, is also the location of rough oil boomtowns. The Pacific coastal plain to the west of the Andes is a land of tropical plantations, bustling port cities, and warm-water beaches. More than 600 miles from the coast lie the Galapagos, a chain of volcanic islands, which are home to unique species of wildlife and a small number of islanders.

Quito is a city of sun and sky, set in agricultural highlands and surrounded by high mountains and snowcapped volcanoes. With a balance of equatorial sunshine and mountain chill, the climate varies little throughout the year. Some newcomers find it difficult to adjust to the thin air and burning sun at an altitude of 9,300 feet and even the most athletic need to wait a week before undertaking any strenuous activity. Geographically and culturally, Ecuador is close to the U.S., but from time to time, almost everyone feels far removed from the rest of the world.

Guayaquil is a complete contrast to the capital. It is a busy bustling city where the natives are both more aggressive and more openhanded than the reserved inhabitants of the Sierra. Like most port cities, Guayaquil is a center of commerce, a place where the shrewd can make a fortune or can capture and direct enough of the city’s rough energy to make a successful political career.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 1/13/2004 11:19 AM

Ecuador straddles the Equator, its namesake, on the west coast of South America, almost 3,000 miles due south of Washington, D.C. It is roughly the size of Colorado. Two north-south ranges of the Andes Mountains divide the country into three distinct sections: the Costa, a belt of tropical lowlands 10–100 miles wide along the Pacific coast, where Guayaquil, the major city, is located; the Sierra, a highland plateau 3,000–10,000 feet high, where Quito is located; and the Oriente, jungle lowlands east of the Andes that make up about half the country’s area. In addition, the Galapagos Islands (Archipelago de Colon) lie 640 miles off the coast. The nine main islands are inhabited by some 15,000 people and an amazing variety of wildlife that has fascinated scientists ever since Charles Darwin visited there in 1836.

Most of Ecuador is covered by equatorial forests. The rest consists of cultivated agricultural areas, some arid scrubland near the coast, and barren mountain ranges with 22 peaks over 14,000 feet high. These peaks include Chimborazo (20,561 ft.) and Cotopaxi, which is the second highest active volcano in the world (19,347 ft.). The spectacular array of snowcapped volcanoes stretching north and south of Quito has been called the “Avenue of Volcanoes,” and on a clear day the view from an airplane is breathtaking. On the Pacific slope the principal rivers are the Esmeraldas and the Guayas. Eastern Ecuador is part of the Amazon watershed. Its principal rivers are the Napo and Pastaza Rivers. None of the Amazon tributaries in Ecuador are navigable by oceangoing vessels.

Because of variations in altitude, Ecuador has a variety of climates. The lowlands are generally hot and humid. Temperatures on the coast are moderated by the Humboldt Current to a range of 65º F to 90º F. Temperatures in the Sierra are generally cool, ranging from 35º F to 75º F. Due to the altitude and thin air, temperature in direct sunlight can reach 85º F at midday. In the evenings it can range from pleasantly cool to very chilly. The tallest mountains are always snowcapped, but it never snows in the inhabited altitudes, although it hails occasionally. During the Sierra dry season, from June through September, gusty winds are common.

In Quito the temperature pattern rarely changes from day to day or month to month. Mornings are cool and crisp, and midday is agreeably warm, unless skies are overcast. Fog and mist may occur in the mornings or evenings as low-lying clouds spill over the sides of the valley. Since Quito is such a short distance from the Equator, sunrise and sunset vary only slightly from 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Average annual rainfall in Quito is 50 inches, with 43 inches falling from October through May, and 7 inches from June through September. Relative humidity averages 75%. Occasional tremors are registered in the area; these may or may not be perceptible to residents. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are infrequent but do remain a possibility.

Population Last Updated: 1/13/2004 11:23 AM

Ecuador’s population is 12 million; it is estimated that the population is 40% mestizo, 40% Indian, 10% white, 5% black, and 5% Oriental, and others. About half of the population lives in the Costa, where the principal group is mestizo. The average annual population growth rate is currently 2.3%.

The term “mestizo” has a cultural significance in the Sierra; it is not simply a mixture of blood. An Indian who leaves his/her community, abandoning traditional dress, tribal ties, and native language, loses his/her Indian identity and is called a “mestizo.”

Spanish is the official language, but Quichua, the language of the Incas, is still spoken by Indians constituting about one-third of the inhabitants. In the Oriente, several indigenous languages and dialects survive, some having no identifiable link with any recognized language families.

Internal migrations are occurring from the highlands to the coastal area, and from the countryside to the cities. Today, the population is divided about equally between the mountainous central highland region and the coastal lowlands. The urban segment of the population is about 55%.

Most of the population is Roman Catholic, although Protestant missionaries have been active in the country since the turn of the century. Religious freedom is observed.

Primary education is compulsory, and an estimated 85% of the population is literate. Both Catholic and Protestant missionaries have worked with indigenous peoples of the Oriente in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. Public university education is free, and there is an open admissions policy. Public and private university enrollment is large, although many students do not complete their degrees.

History. As many as 50 independent pre-Colombian cultures flourished along the coast, in the Sierra, and in the Rio Napo region before the Incas conquered what is now Ecuador. Ceramics found in Valdivia date from 3200 B.C., are among the oldest in South America. Archeologists have discovered rich gold works, ceramics, weavings, and mummies in several important sites. Around the year 1200, two important nations emerged: the Caras on the coast, and the Quitus in the Andes. These merged to form the Shyris nation, which was conquered by the Incas in the 15th century.

The Inca sovereign Huayna Capac consolidated his rule over the area in the early 1500s, just a few years before the first Spaniards landed on the shores of Ecuador. After seizing the treasures at Atacames on his first expedition along the coast from his base in Panama, Francisco Pizarro returned in 1532 to conquer the Inca kingdom, by then weakened by civil war. The last Inca king, Atahualpa, was held prisoner for ransom and then killed by Pizarro.

A long period of warfare against the native population followed, and the Spanish conquest destroyed all but a few of the Inca fortresses and temples. Quito was not subdued until Sebastian de Benalcazar took possession of the area, establishing San Francisco de Quito on December 6, 1534, on the site of the ancient Quitu capital. Guayaquil was founded a year later. Gonzalo Pizarro was named governor of the colony in 1540 and organized an expedition in Quito, which resulted in the discovery of the Amazon River by Francisco de Orellana. In 1563, Quito was made a Royal Audiencia, first as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, and then the Viceroyalty of New Granada, after 1718.

Exploration, colonization, and religious conversion of the Indians continued for almost three centuries, until independence in 1822. The first schools were established by the religious orders of the Catholic Church. So many monasteries and sumptuous churches were built in Quito that it became known as “The Cloister of America.” The combination of Spanish art and Indian handicraft led to a unique production of sculpture and painting in what is known as the Quiteño School of Colonial Art, with many extraordinary native artists, such as Caspicara, Goribar, and Miguel de Santiago.

Land which had been taken from the aborigines was granted to the religious communities and to the Spaniards who had served their king. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Negro slave labor was brought from the Caribbean to work the new plantations and agriculture flourished. The colonial economy rested on three institutions: the encomienda (a system of serfdom), the mita (forced Indian labor in mines and public works), and the obraje (forced labor in textile factories). Although the land belonged to the Spanish crown legally, the encomienda was the cession of land and people to the privileged. The Indians were supposed to receive the care of the patron and be instructed in the Catholic faith, in exchange for personal services. The native population suffered greatly under this system.

Many European scientists visited Ecuador in the 18th century: Charles de La Condamine of France headed a geodetic mission to confirm measurements of the Equator, and Alexander Von Humboldt made significant discoveries in natural science. Intellectual societies flourished in the capital and became centers of liberal political thought.

Eugenio Espejo preached independence and influenced many wealthy merchants and nobles who resented Spanish oppression, taxation, and trade restrictions. In 1809, a group of citizens overthrew the Royal Audiencia, but Spanish rule was restored within 3 months. In 1820, Guayaquil again declared independence, and soon after Simon Bolivar sent Antonio José de Sucre into Ecuador to lead a decisive campaign against the Spaniards. Sucre won a great victory in a fierce battle on the slopes of Mount Pichincha overlooking Quito in 1822, liberating Ecuador and uniting it with the Federation of Greater Colombia.

The Republic of Ecuador began its separate existence in 1830, and Juan Jose Flores was elected the first President. The constitution established a presidential system of government, with a division of powers among the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches. The new government was beset from the beginning by personal and sectional rivalries between the Coast and the Sierra. For many years, political power alternated between the Liberal and Conservative Parties.

In the 19th century, political conditions were unstable, and during the first 95 years of its independence, Ecuador had a succession of 40 presidents, dictators, and juntas. In 1851, slavery was abolished, 60,000 Negroes were freed, and tribute payments by the Indians were abolished. In 1860, 15 years of authoritarian rule by President Gabriel Garcia Moreno began. After his assassination in 1875 on the steps of the Presidential Palace, a period of liberal constitutional development followed. The greatest figure of this era was Eloy Alfaro, who completed the Guayaquil-Quito Railway and created a public health system. Under his leadership, new constitutions removed religious qualifications for citizenship, re-established freedom of worship, confiscated Church estates, and secularized government education.

In the early 20th century, there was political unrest and economic distress following World War I. From 1925 until 1948, the country went through an even more troubled period, with 22 Chiefs of State. Twelve years of relative stability followed. Galo Plaza Lasso (former Secretary-General of the Organization of American States) was elected President in free elections in 1948 and was succeeded by Dr. Jose M. Velasco Ibarra who completed his presidential term, and, in turn, was succeeded by Dr. Camilo Ponce E., who also completed his presidential term. The next elected President was again Dr. Jose M. Velasco Ibarra, who was overthrown by a military junta. After almost 2 decades of military rule, a constitutional government was elected, led by Dr. Jaime Roldos A., who died in an airplane accident in 1982 and was succeeded by his Vice President Dr. Osvaldo Hurtado L. In 1984, there was an orderly transition from one democratically elected government to another when President Leon Febres Cordero took office. He, in turn, relinquished power to democratically elected Dr. Rodrigo Borja C, who served from 1988 to 1992. Sixto Duran-Ballen was President for the period from 1992 to 1996. Abdala Bucaram Ortiz was elected President in 1996 for a period of 4 years; however, his presidency was revoked in February 1997. Fabian Alarcón (February 1997–August 1998) was Interim President until new elections were rescheduled in 1998, when Jamil Mahuad was voted into office. Mahuad stepped down after an uprising led by indigenous and disaffected military in January 2000. His vice president, Gustavo Noboa, is now completing Mahuad’s term.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 1/13/2004 11:25 AM

Domestic Politics. Ecuador is politically unstable. It has had five presidents since 1996 (nine, if a triumvirate that lasted only hours and a president who was swept aside after a day are counted). Gustavo Noboa took office in January 2000 after indigenous and military rebels forced President Jamil Mahuad to resign. Under the 1998 Constitution, the executive branch is relatively weak. The current president, Lucio Gutierrez, was elected in November 2002 in free and fair elections for a 4-year term.

The 123-member Congress is fractious — none of its dozen parties has more than a fifth of the seats. It does not exercise effective oversight of the executive or judicial branches, and in opinion polls, it vies with the judiciary for the lowest spot in public esteem. The judiciary is susceptible to outside pressure and corruption. Despite efforts to depoliticize and modernize the court system, the judiciary continues to operate slowly and inconsistently. There are over 55,000 laws and regulations in force. Many of these are conflicting, and judges tend to select from archaic legislation in an arbitrary manner. The resulting lack of clear rules contributes to what is widely referred to as juridical uncertainty.

Despite its impressive wealth of natural resources and other advantages, Ecuador is impoverished as a result of years of political mismanagement and corruption. Transparency International ranks Ecuador as the second most corrupt country in Latin America. There are few effective checks or balances in place to deter corruption. Ecuador’s human rights record is on the whole good, although problems, principally involving abuse of authority and an ineffective judiciary, continue to exist.

Relations with the U.S. Bilateral relations are mixed but generally positive. In Ecuador, the U.S. seeks to promote democracy, regional stability, counter-terrorist and counter-narcotics activities, and open markets. Ecuador’s pervasive corruption and mismanagement make it a conduit for narcotics, a source of illegal migrants, and a potential haven for terrorists. The USG is working to reduce these threats to the U.S. by encouraging democratic institution-building and economic and social development.

As Ecuador’s largest trading partner and home to the greatest share of Ecuadorians living overseas, the U.S. is viewed positively. Ecuador is looking to the U.S. primarily for more trade, investment and aid, but also for assurances that it will be protected from regional conflicts. After Ecuador and Peru went to war in early 1995, the USG played a leading role in getting the two countries to sign a peace agreement that settled its century-old dispute. Ecuador’s security concerns since then have shifted from the southern border with Peru to the northern border with Colombia. There is a high level of anxiety about Plan Colombia and its spillover potential for Ecuador. Despite these fears, Ecuador has been spared major incursions of regular or irregular armed forces and large influxes of refugees.

In 1999, the USG successfully negotiated a 10-year agreement to operate a Forward Operating Location (FOL) at the Ecuadorian Air Force’s air base in Manta to support counter-narcotics surveillance flights.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 1/13/2004 11:27 AM

Quito’s artistic tradition continued through the Republican era and flourishes today. Masters such as Oswaldo Guayasamin, Eduardo Kingman, and Oswaldo Viteri are joined by a younger generation that is gaining international fame.

The National Dance Company performs modern ballet. There are two annual modern dance festivals, and groups such as Humanizarte focus on indigenous dance forms. Indigenous dance is also performed on the weekends at the Mitad del Mundo. The National Symphony performs weekly concerts in Quito and elsewhere throughout the country. Many classical concerts are offered by the Philharmonic Society, and there are several chamber music groups. Private clubs and restaurants showcase traditional Andean music, Latin pop, and even jazz. There are several theatrical groups and an annual theatre festival. Quito has one artfilm house, Ocho y Media, which features European films and U.S. independent movies.

Traditional arts and crafts are very much alive in Ecuador. Indian wool weavings and rugs woven in Incan designs have been successfully commercialized, making Otavalo world famous. Cotacachi, near Otavalo, is known for its leather goods, and San Antonio de Ibarra, just a few miles south of the city of Ibarra, is a center for wood carving. The city of Cuenca has a wide variety of art forms, including sophisticated ceramics and the famous “Panama Hats.” Tigua, a small town near Latacunga, is famous for native paintings produced on stretched cowhides and furniture. A number of indigenous communities combine colorful art forms with religious celebrations.

The government and many private organizations are working to preserve Ecuador’s historic, archaeological, and architectural heritage. Colonial Quito has been declared a “world’s cultural heritage site” city by UNESCO. Dozens of sites in Quito’s historic center have been or are being restored. The operation of the Quito electric trolley system has begun to reduce the pollution and vibration that was harming many of the architectural treasures. Ecuador is the only country to contain three UNESCO “world cultural heritage sites” — the cities of Cuenca and Old Quito and the Galapagos Islands. The Universidad Andina is a 2002 recipient of a State Department “Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation” grant to assist with the preservation of Afro-Ecuadorian oral history.

The Central Bank has long been a major player in the cultural world. The Central Bank’s museums throughout the country showcase the artistic and archaeological treasures of Ecuador. Perhaps the premier museum in Quito is the Central Bank museum at the Casa de la Cultura, directly in front of the U.S. Embassy. The museum combines a large collection of pre-Columbian ceramics and gold with a historical review of Ecuadorian sculpture, painting and furniture. Several museums are located in Old Quito, including the ethnographic Museo de la Ciudad (located in the historic San Juan de Dios hospital) and the Centro Cultural Metropolitano. These two lovely museums benefit directly from UNESCO funds based upon Old Quito’s status as a world heritage site. The Guayasamin Foundation in the northern part of the city pays homage to the work of Ecuador's best known painter.

Ecuadorian universities have lost much of its prestige over the past 25 years. Some 60 universities are officially recognized by the government, and there are 350 specialized higher institutes. The two largest universities, the Central University in Quito, and the University of Guayaquil, have launched reform projects, but it will take time for them to recoup the reputation for excellence they enjoyed 40 years ago. Most research takes place at the two technological universities, the ESPOL in Guayaquil and the National Polytechnic School in Quito. Despite its relatively small size, Ecuador attracts the third-largest number of U.S. students seeking to study Spanish abroad in all of Latin America. Among the private universities in Quito, the Catolica (known as PUCE) and San Francisco University are considered to be the best for undergraduate study. Among graduate institutions, the Andina and FLACSO are the most highly regarded.

Although Ecuador’s scientific community is small, there is much work being done in biodiversity and other environmental areas. Researchers from around the world come to Ecuador, drawn by the richness of its biodiversity (Ecuador ranks second worldwide in vertebrate density and the Galapagos Islands are second-ranked in marine biodiversity). The Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos National Park is the center for studies of the islands. It receives funds from the Ecuadorian Government as well as international organizations for its activities. New research stations opened by the Catholic University and San Francisco University in the Amazon basin are providing Ecuadorian and foreign scientists with the infrastructure to carry out projects there.

An increase in scientific activity is apparent in Ecuador. The National Atomic Energy Commission is doing more extensive research with radioisotopes, particularly in medicine and agriculture. Several experimental agricultural stations are active. The Central University and the National Polytechnic School have research labs. Other research is being conducted on cancer, pharmaceuticals, astronomy, and linguistics fields. The Amazon region provides untold opportunities for research on indigenous plants used in non-traditional medicine.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:04 PM

Oil dominates Ecuador’s economy. In 2001, oil revenues accounted for more than 40% of Ecuador’s export revenues and 34% of its fiscal revenues. Four-fifths of all inward foreign investment to Ecuador in the 1990s went to the petroleum sector. The Transandean Heavy Oil Pipeline (OCP) will only increase the economy’s reliance on petroleum revenues. The project, carried out by a consortium of five private oil producers, will generate 56,000 new jobs, inward investment of $3.5 billion (including direct project investment of $1.067 billion), and as much as $730 million in annual royalties and tax payments when the pipeline comes on line this year.

Agriculture also plays an important role in the country’s economy. Both the coastal and highland regions are rich agricultural areas. The Sierra (highland) region largely produces traditional consumption crops, but has excellent potential for export crops like flowers and vegetables. Flowers are Ecuador’s most successful nontraditional export item; over the last 10 years, exports have increased tenfold, and accounted for $212 million in 2001. The coastal lowland produces mainly export crops, including bananas, shrimp, coffee, and cocoa. Bananas are the country’s second most important export item, accounting for 18% ($827 million) of all exports in 2001.

Ecuador’s industrial sector produces largely for the domestic market, which until recently was heavily protected. Since Ecuador joined the World Trade Organization in 1996, trade policy has been liberalized, but many barriers remain. Ecuador’s average applied tariff rate is about 13% ad Valero. Manufactured and semi-manufactured goods accounted for 27% of Ecuador’s exports in 2001.

Over the past 20 years, Ecuador’s economy has grown at a modest rate (2.2%/year), especially in view of its high rate of population growth. In effect, the incomes of Ecuadorians have stagnated for 2 decades. The economy is emerging from one of the worst economic crises of its history, which came to a head at the end of the 1990s. The near-collapse of the financial system, several years of profligate spending, a promiscuous monetary policy, and low oil prices conspired to bring the economy to the point of collapse in 1999. That year, Ecuador’s economy contracted 7%; capital flight was on the order of $3 billion (almost 20% of GDP); 15 banks were taken over by the state; 20% of the country’s incorporated companies went out of business; and reserves declined 25%. Tumbling incomes provoked an exodus that has seen almost 5% of the population — 600,000 Ecuadorians — emigrate in the last 2 years. (Emigrant remittances are now Ecuador’s second most important source of hard currency from abroad.)

The crisis drove President Mahuad from office, but not before he committed Ecuador to adopt the U.S. dollar as the national currency. The Noboa government reaffirmed the move to dollarization and signed a Stand-by Agreement with the IMF. These decisions set the stage for economic recovery. Modest economic growth (1.9%) in 2000 was followed by a much better year in 2001. Ecuador’s growth rate of 5.4% was the highest in the hemisphere in 2001. Despite the recovery, many serious problems remain, including a poor investment climate, pervasive poverty and corruption, excessive state control of the economy, and a lack of external competitiveness.


Automobiles Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:06 PM

The Ecuadorian Government allows two duty-free vehicles per employee. AID contractors and other contractors may be allowed to import only one vehicle. Please check with post to determine eligibility. Both vehicles may be sold without payment of duties after 2 years in country, or after 6 months if the employee is transferred. High duties are charged on prorata basis if the vehicle has been in-country for less than 6 months when the employee is transferred. Shipping costs and insurance for additional vehicles are the responsibility of the employee. An automobile is essential at post. See the Customs, Duties, and Passage Section for further information regarding vehicle importation.

Most American and foreign cars can be serviced in Quito and Guayaquil. Dealers do not carry large inventories of spare parts (especially for American cars) and often these must be imported. Since parts are hard to come by, do not bring a car over 6 years old, though there is currently no GOE regulation regarding the age of a vehicle.

If the part is too large to come via APO, it will be subject to lengthy customs delays even though diplomatic personnel are not assessed customs duty. All American, Japanese, or Korean car manufacturers have dealers in Ecuador, but the supply of parts is limited. Although it is possible to order cars through local dealers, delays of 3–6 months are the norm for receipt.

City streets and principal intercity highways are reasonably well maintained. Many types of vehicles are used in Ecuador, from the smallest four-cylinder cars to the largest and most powerful luxury sedans. Automatic transmissions present no problems, except for replacement parts. Personnel with low-slung cars have problems when exploring remote areas. Heavy-duty shocks and suspensions are recommended. Jeeps, Blazers, and Explorers are popular among U.S. personnel for travel outside metropolitan areas and off the major highways. High road clearance and maneuverability are essential for this type of travel, and a good range of gears, heavy-duty tires, springs, shock absorbers, and a roll bar are recommended. An oversized radiator is a desirable safety feature. Four-wheel-drive vehicles may be rented locally for recreational use or while waiting for your vehicle to arrive. Bring a new car or one in good condition. People who will not be traveling to remote areas will find a sedan or minivan to be an adequate means of transportation.

Unleaded gasoline is now readily available in Ecuador in two versions. The better quality is the “Super” gasoline, which costs about $2.00 per gallon; a low-octane regular leaded gasoline is available for $1.45.

All diplomatic personnel must currently pay $15 for license plates. If you have a valid U.S. drivers license, no driving test is required. Four 1” x 1” photographs are necessary. These photographs must be submitted to the Foreign Ministry by the Embassy within 24 hours of arrival. Employees should bring photos with them. Each person obtaining a drivers license must state his/her blood type.

All Mission personnel must purchase third-party-liability insurance while in Ecuador. It is required by Ecuadorian law and Mission regulations. The Embassy offers a group insurance plan that is underwritten by a local firm. Insurance rates in Ecuador are comparable to those in the U.S. The Embassy advises everyone to maintain collision and comprehensive insurance, which may be purchased in the U.S. or Ecuador. At least two U.S. companies will provide policies that are valid in Ecuador. Some U.S. insurance plans will also cover losses sustained while the vehicle is in shipment to Ecuador.

Most city streets are paved, although they are not always in good condition. Smaller towns usually have cobblestone or dirt streets. Travel by automobile can be slow and hard; some roads outside the cities are in poor condition and are very winding. The main roads are the north-south Pan American Highway that runs through Quito, the Quito-Guayaquil Road via Santo Domingo, and the Quito-Esmeraldas Road.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:06 PM

Regular intercity bus service is available, but Mission personnel do not usually use it. Principal cities have numerous city buses. These are inexpensive, costing about $.20 but they are crowded and often in need of repair. The city of Quito is now served by an electric trolley system running from the southern to the northern areas of the city and vice versa, costing about $.30. Taxis are plentiful, and the fares are reasonable. You can hail a taxi on the street or telephone to request one. If the taxi does not have a meter, negotiate the fare before beginning the trip. A 4-mile ride from the Chancery to the airport should cost between $5 and $8. Taxis are difficult to find on the street after 10 p.m. or when it is raining in Quito, but you can always request a taxi by phone.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:07 PM

American Airlines offers regular service to Quito and Guayaquil from Miami, with at least one flight daily. Continental provides daily service from Houston, both direct and via Panama. There are several flights weekly to New York, Newark, NJ and also direct flights via Mexico or Miami to Los Angeles. Make your reservations well in advance of your trip, since all of these flights are crowded. Most are fully booked weeks in advance.

Mariscal Sucre, Quito’s international airport, is about 20 minutes from the Embassy. Ecuador has two domestic airlines (TAME and ICARO). Guayaquil is 30–45 minutes by air from Quito, depending on the aircraft. Reasonably priced scheduled flights are also available to Esmeraldas, Cuenca, Lago Agrio, Coca, Loja, Manta, Machala, Tulcan, Portoviejo, Macas, and the Galapagos.

Currently, a round-trip flight from the capital to the Galapagos Islands costs about $390 for persons who are not permanent residents of Ecuador. U.S. Mission personnel holding diplomatic visas are considered residents and are eligible for a reduced rate of $228.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:08 PM

The per-minute rate for calls to the U.S. is currently around $0.50. There is no time period with reduced rates. Most phones are touch-tone and direct dial to the U.S. is readily available. Calls placed from the U.S. to Ecuador are considerably less expensive than those placed from Ecuador. Companies such as AT&T, Sprint, and MCI offer service in Ecuador. You should check with each company to find out about their services in Ecuador. Billing for phone service in Ecuador is unusual. Rather than the local phone company, Andinatel, providing a monthly invoice the customer must call Andinatel monthly to obtain the amount due. Failure to call and pay the monthly bill on time will result in suspension of service. The Employee Association of the Embassy provides, at a nominal cost, a bill paying service for phone and other local bills for employees of the Mission.

Visitors and new arrivals to post should inquire with their hotel regarding local telephone surcharges. Some hotels add a surcharge of as much as $0.37 per minute for local and long-distance calls. This includes calls to AT&T, MCI, Sprint, and the Internet.

Wireless Service Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:08 PM
Cellular phones have become very popular within the country and sometimes are more reliable than the regular phone system. Phones purchased in the U.S. may not be able to be programmed for use within Ecuador, or it may cost up to U.S.$100 to reprogram them. The price of cellular telephones is competitive with that of the U.S. Cellular coverage does not encompass the entire country, but is improving. Coverage of most urban areas is sufficient; however, many rural areas suffer blind spots.

Internet Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:09 PM

There are dozens of companies that provide internet service, with costs for unlimited service ranging from $25 to $50. As local phone connections are often poor and local calls are billed by the minute, heavy internet usage can easily double the amount paid for unlimited service in phone bills. Internet cafes are found in all major cities, with costs ranging from $1–$2 per hour.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:10 PM

Both the Embassy and the Consulate General are served by an Army Post Office (APO). The APO offers all the services of a post office in the U.S., except next day express services, registered mail, and money orders. Use of these facilities is limited to U.S. Government employees and their families. Mail is dispatched and received daily in Quito and Guayaquil. APO letter mail takes about 7–10 days to most destinations in the continental U.S. Priority mail packages take about the same amount of time. Space Available Mail (SAM), commonly known as parcel post, may take 3–4 weeks to arrive. Parcel size for both Priority and SAM packages is limited to 70 pounds maximum. Length and girth combined cannot exceed 108”. You can obtain your Unit No. from your sponsor or your admin officer. Address letters and parcels sent to the APO as follows:

To Quito:
AmEmbassy Quito
Unit No.– (or Section)
APO AA 34039

To Guayaquil:
U.S. CONGEN Guayaquil
APO AA 34039–5350

International airmail is not as dependable or inexpensive as APO. Due to security concerns, international mail is not accepted directly at the Embassy. All international mail is directed to a post office box and routed through the Embassy’s primary screening facility before delivery. Any items sent by international mail should be addressed to U.S. Embassy, Casilla 17–17–1538, Quito, Ecuador, or to the U.S. Consulate General, 9 de Octubre y Garcia Moreno, Guayaquil, Ecuador. Please ensure that a return address is included on all items mailed through the international post; the local post offices for both the Embassy and Consulate General have been directed not to deliver items without a return address.

Packages arriving by international parcel post and unaccompanied airfreight will be inspected and charged a duty. Although diplomats accredited to Ecuador can be exempted from these duties, the procedure for obtaining a free-entry decree routinely takes up to 1 month.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:11 PM

Quito has a wide range of AM radio stations presenting primarily Latin American and American popular music. Good FM radio stations operate here, with most broadcasting in stereo. The FM service of HCJB, a missionary-run broadcasting organization, features light classical music and offers nightly news broadcasts in English. Short-wave reception is usually good. Both Voice of America and BBC can be received clearly. HAM radio operators should bring their own equipment; the Ecuadorian Government issues licenses to those with a valid American license.

Quito and Guayaquil are served by a cable TV service that provides 50 channels, with several in English, from the U.S. These vary as stations are added and dropped, but generally the three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS), Discovery, Fox, Warner Brothers, CNN, ESPN, and a few rerun stations are available. The cost for full service is about $55 monthly. Local stations broadcast in Spanish and include shows from all over Latin America, dubbed versions of many U.S. series and a variety of motion pictures.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:12 PM

Quito has two independent morning newspapers, El Comercio and Hoy, and two afternoon tabloids, Ultimas Noticias and La Hora. Newspapers from Guayaquil, such as El Universo and El Expreso, are also sold in Quito. Newspapers are sold on the streets and in neighborhood stores and can be delivered to the home.

The Latin American edition of the Miami Herald is printed daily in Quito, using a direct satellite link, and is currently available by subscription for around $150 per year. U.S. magazines and newspapers sent to the APO address arrive about 1 month late.

The English-language editions of Time and Newsweek magazines are available locally at about $3 per copy. Other popular magazines from the U.S., France, Spain, and Germany are also available, but there is a limited selection. The Bi- National Centers in Guayaquil and Cuenca subscribe to numerous English-language periodicals and have libraries with fiction and nonfiction English-language books. The Embassy has a Public Affairs Section reference library, which is noncirculating. The Damas Norteamericanas y Britanicas Club operates a small rental library. Major hotels carry some paperback books. Several bookstores have limited stocks of books in English, but they are expensive. Many members of the Embassy community find it advantageous to belong to book clubs and to continue subscriptions to their favorite magazines, newspapers, and periodicals via APO.

Recordings of U.S. and European popular music are increasingly available. Those produced under license in Ecuador are relatively inexpensive (about $10), but imported recordings are costly. Selections of classical music are limited; recordings of Ecuadorian and Latin American popular and folk music are abundant, inexpensive, and of relatively good quality.

There are several video clubs, including the U.S. chain “Blockbusters,” offering a wide variety of VHS tapes comparable to what would be found in the U.S.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:14 PM

A Foreign Service nurse practitioner is assigned to the Embassy and is assisted by a full-time Foreign Service national nurse and a part-time Amcit nurse. They maintain a well-equipped medical office. The regional medical officer is assigned to Lima, Perú, and usually visits both Quito and Guayaquil every 6 months. The regional psychiatrist is assigned to Lima, Perú, and visits every 6 months.

The Medical Unit offers a wide range of services, including consultation with the health care providers, immunizations, and laboratory services. The medical staff works closely with the local physicians and medical facilities to maintain the highest level of medical care available.

The Medical Unit has a limited supply of medications and does not supply medicine cabinet items or daily medications. Bring a year’s supply of all routine medications taken on a regular basis. It is especially important to bring any and all contact lens material. Purchase such medicine cabinet supplies as aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), cold and cough medications, vitamins, sunscreen, insect repellant, and Band-aids before arrival and send to post.

The commissary does stock many medicine cabinet items and most of these items can also be purchased at local pharmacies. Handcarry at least a 30-day supply of all prescription drugs with you when you come to post, just in case your airfreight is delayed in arriving. Prescriptions can be obtained from the RMO during his visits and should be requested 3 months before your medicine supply is gone.

A detailed health information briefing is done within a week of your arrival at post. A health information booklet is given to each family at the orientation meeting. It explains the recommended health precautions, the most common health problems and a list of the physicians and facilities available in Quito. There are several good hospitals used by Embassy personnel for medical care and hospitalization. The choice of facility is left to the patient and his/her physician at the time of treatment and/or hospitalization. Some Ecuadorian physicians and dentists are trained in the U.S. or Europe and hospitals meet all American standards. Though the local physicians and facilities are adequate, there are occasions when individuals are evacuated to Miami for medical treatment.

Quito has good dentists and orthodontists. Hygiene and quality of work is similar to the U.S. Major dental problems such as root canal and crowns can be adequately accommodated here. Eye examinations and glasses are readily available in Quito. Contact lenses can also be fitted. German and American contact solutions are available on the local market, but bring your own supplies if you prefer a specific brand. Contact lenses can be difficult to use due to the altitude and dryness of the climate. Bring a pair of prescription glasses as a backup. Most people find that the altitude and ultra-violet sunrays make sunglasses necessary. The sunlight is bright and sunglasses reduce the eye glare. Good dark sunglasses are difficult to find in Quito; bring a couple of pairs.

Guayaquil Medical Information. The Consulate General in Guayaquil has a small medical unit under the direction of a part-time contract nurse. She is available for consultations on a regular basis during working hours and after-hours as necessary. The Foreign Service nurse practitioner makes regular regional visits to Guayaquil for consultations and administrative support. A small pharmacy is maintained at the medical unit, but limited medications are available. As advised for Quito, personnel coming to Guayaquil should bring with them a year’s supply of all routine medications, vitamins, and medicine cabinet supplies. The local market does carry most of the medications available in the U.S., but the availability at local pharmacies vary from month to month. The regional medical officer visits Guayaquil every 6 months and can write prescriptions as needed.

Local medical facilities are less adequate than Quito. Well-trained physicians are available for consultation. The Clinica Kennedy is a small private hospital used when necessary by Consulate General personnel, but evacuation to Quito and/or Miami is another option used by the personnel. Dental facilities are limited, and personnel are urged to have dental care done in the U.S. before arrival at post.

Due to the high humidity and temperature in Guayaquil, bring insect repellant and insecticides. Due to the risk of contracting malaria, insect repellant should be used when outside in the evenings. Insects are a problem, and U.S. brand insecticides (or bug sprays) are more effective in controlling them. Antiseptic and antibiotic ointments are useful in prevention of bacterial skin infections.

Community Health Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:15 PM

Quito and Guayaquil have central sewage systems, and garbage is collected regularly in most areas of the cities. However, sanitation facilities and public health controls are well below U.S. standards. Since the water system is subject to leaks and corrosion in the pipes, tapwater is not safe. The Embassy and Consulate General operate a water filtering and purification plant from which many personnel get their potable water. If water from the Embassy or Consulate General facility is not used, the tapwater should be boiled for 20 minutes.

The altitude can be a problem in Quito. Located at 9,300 feet, it is the second highest Foreign Service post in the world. During the first couple of days, most people experience some minor discomforts associated with high altitude. These symptoms include shortness of breath, upset stomach, headaches, difficulty sleeping (including sleeping more than normal), dizziness, and loss of energy. After a period of adjustment, most individuals have no difficulty with the altitude. Colds and respiratory infections do require a longer convalescent period than at sea level.

Because of the thinness of the air and closer proximity to the sun, the equatorial sun is very intense. Skin irritation and sunburn can occur with short exposure to the sun. Use tanning products and sunscreens when outdoors. Bring a supply of sunblock with an SPF level of at least eight but preferably higher. A wide assortment of brimmed hats can be bought locally, including the “Panama” hats (which are really made in Ecuador).

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:17 PM

Numerous diseases are endemic to Ecuador, including cholera and rabies. Among the most common problems within the American community are intestinal parasites, hepatitis, viral infections and colds. Malaria is a problem below 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) in all areas of Ecuador, with the exception of the Galapagos Islands. Antimalarial medication should be taken by all persons living in or traveling to malaria areas, including Guayaquil. Chloroquine-resistant malaria has been reported in parts of Ecuador, but neither Quito nor Guayaquil is in these areas. Medication and additional instructions are available at the Medical Units.

Vaccinations are a strong line of defense against diseases and illnesses while living in Ecuador. Yellow fever injections are strongly recommended for Ecuador. Yellow fever injections are given at the local public health centers, therefore, all personnel above the age of 1 year should obtain their yellow fever injection before arriving at post. Oral typhoid vaccine is another highly recommended vaccination for Ecuador. Hepatitis A vaccine is strongly recommended. Gamma globulin is no longer given at the Health Units in Quito and Guayaquil. Routine childhood immunization, including Hepatitis A and B, DPT, polio, MMR, and HIB are maintained at post. Yearly TB tests are done, because tuberculosis is endemic in the country. It is advisable that immunization cards (the yellow shot cards) be reviewed in the U.S. before departing for post. Chickenpox vaccine is currently not available at post.

Obtain potable water from the Embassy’s or Consulate’s General water plant or boil tapwater for 20 minutes. Soak fruits and vegetables in chlorine (Clorox) water for 20 minutes before eaten raw. Wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water to remove dirt and pesticides before cooking.

Local milk is not considered to be pasteurized adequately for consumption without further boiling. Long-life milk and powdered milk can be purchased locally or in the commissary. Cheese and ice cream are processed adequately for consumption. All meat, including beef and pork, should be cooked well-done to prevent intestinal parasites. Do not eat mayonnaise-based food because of risks of food poisoning. Food bought at the local supermarkets are safe and usually of good quality.

Have pre-employment medical examinations for domestic household staff members, especially if they will be cooking or caring for children. The Medical Staff does routine hygiene and simple first aid classes for domestic household staff members. Establish strict standards for food handling and storage with your household staff.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:18 PM

Current employment opportunities within the Mission in Quito include the Community Liaison Office coordinator, part-time APO mail supervisor, RSO secretary, consular associate, nurse, residential security coordinator/inventory clerk, DAO OMS, DEA clerk, and GSO Assistant Security Escort (when actually employed) positions are always available, once dependent has applied and the security clearance has been obtained. Short-term positions become available from time to time.

The CLO and the HRO run a summer employment program for teenagers at post when funding permits; teens are given the opportunity to work in various Mission sections.

Family members have worked as teachers, substitute teachers, and staff at Cotopaxi and Alliance Academies, Colegio Americano and Colegio Menor. Teaching credentials are required for fulltime teaching positions. However, substitute positions require only a bachelor’s degree.

A bilateral work agreement with the Government of Ecuador is in place. However, good opportunities for work are scarce and do not pay as well as jobs in the U.S.

American Embassy - Quito

Post City Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:19 PM

When Spanish expeditions overwhelmed the Inca Empire, the Inca leader Rumiñahui destroyed the city of Quito rather than surrender it to the conquerors. The Spanish built their own settlement, San Francisco de Quito, on the same site, at the southern end of the Pichincha Valley. It was an easily defensible location bordered by deep ravines and dominated by the smooth round hill now called the Panecillo.

Nestled in a high mountain valley surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes, Quito will literally take your breath away with its natural beauty and altitude. The Andean setting, Spanish colonial architecture, Indian costumes, palm trees and bougainvillea, and steep hillsides with checkerboard patterns in vivid greens and yellows rising into the clouds a short distance from the sprawling city-all make Quito unique.

The colonial center of Quito has been declared a human heritage (“Patrimonio de la Humanidad”) by UNESCO. This heritage is preserved today by zoning laws that forbid the demolition or exterior remodeling of the low, whitewashed buildings in the center of the city. The old town, cut into squares by narrow streets with steep flights of steps, contains many colonial ecclesiastic monuments: La Compañia, with its carved facade and gold-leafed interior; San Francisco, the first spiritual center in South America, with a museum crowded with sculptures and paintings by Caspicara and Miguel de Santiago; San Agustin, a quiet convent with treasures in its ceilings and altars; the Cathedral, famous for art works of the Quiteño school; Santo Domingo monastery, with another museum of priceless paintings and sculpture, and many others.

The narrow streets of colonial Quito are a pleasure for an unhurried stroll on weekends when the city seems to shut down completely. During the week, the heavy traffic makes a walk through the center of town something of a struggle, and it is unwise to venture through the colorful Ipiales street market with important documents or valuables. A respite from the bustling throngs of shoppers, vendors, and noisy traffic can be found in the broad plazas with meticulously kept parks bordered by churches and public buildings.

In the mid-20th century, Quito grew quickly. Industrial areas and crowded popular barrios developed to the south of the city. To the north, Quito spread up a wide valley bordering the dormant Pichincha Volcano. Originally, farmland dotted with villas built in fanciful Spanish, Moorish, or 1930s modern architecture, this area is rapidly becoming Quito’s modern center. The U.S. Embassy is located here, close to El Ejido Park and the Hotel Hilton Colon. The Rio Amazonas shopping district runs from the park through a modern business center of high-rise office buildings that offer a variety of restaurants, shops, banks, and sidewalk cafes. Avenida Gonzales Suarez, Bella Vista, Quito Tenis and El Bosque are the areas where most of the diplomatic community lives.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:22 PM

Organization of the U.S. agencies in Quito is typical of the arrangements at most posts. The Embassy provides administrative support for Peace Corps, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the U.S. Commercial Service (CS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Defense Attaché Office (DAO), Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Military Group (USMILGP) and the office of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provides its own administrative services. The workweek is Monday to Friday, 8 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 5 pm, for all U.S. Government agencies.

The Chancery is a four-story building at the corner of Avenida Patria and 12 de Octubre (telephone 593-2-2562-890, 593-2-2561-623, fax 593-2-2502-052) within easy walking distance of Catholic University, the Hotel Hilton Colon, El Elijido Park, and the busy Amazonas shopping district. It has a snackbar, a bank, a travel agency, health unit, conference room, and auditorium. The Consular Section is located on the Chancery grounds.

The Political Section is responsible for advising the Ambassador on political developments in Ecuador and on foreign policy issues affecting U.S.-Ecuadorian relations. The Section also reports to Washington on Ecuadorian internal developments and presents U.S. views on international issues to the Ecuadorian Government agencies.

The Economic Section is responsible for bilateral trade and investment negotiations and policy issues, intellectual property issues, financial and debt issues, and bilateral environmental, petroleum, mining and civil aviation issues. In addition, the Section is responsible for advising the Ambassador on economic policy issues in Ecuador and for reporting to Washington on economic developments.

The Administrative Section is headed by an administrative counselor and provides administrative and management guidance to all American and Ecuadorian employees of the Mission. Administration sub-units include the APO, Community Liaison Office (CLO), Health Unit (HU), General Services Office (GSO), Financial Management (FMO), Human Resources (HR), and Information Management offices. The administrative counselor serves as the Ambassador’s representative on the American Employee’s Recreation Association Board (AERA) and is the primary liaison with the FSN employee’s association.

The Financial Management Office handles all vouchers, accounting, and payroll in the Embassy. It services all agencies at post, except USAID, which does its own accounting. It is supported by the Financial Service Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Community Liaison Office is responsible for community morale and newcomer programs. The duties range from welcoming and orientation, liaison with schools and community groups, counseling and referral, security liaison, to information and resource management, family member employment, and program management.

The General Services Office has approximately 30 employees and is responsible for travel, customs clearances, arranging HHE packing and unpacking, clearance and registration of vehicles, maintenance, contracts, and procurement and supply.

The Health Unit is responsible for the basic health of the U.S. Mission employees authorized to use the health facilities. The average patient visits per month vary between 250 and 300. The local medical facilities in Quito are very good, with an excellent hospital and a large selection of qualified physicians.

The Information Management Office is responsible for communications (telephones, telegrams, phones, fax, radios) management, information systems, and pouch/mail services. Its key objectives are to provide reliable information systems and to find and exploit opportunities to improve telecommunications service to all U.S. Government agencies resident in Ecuador. This section provides communication links with the Department of State in Washington, D.C., and a network of government agencies, embassies, consulates, and missions worldwide.

The Human Resources Office handles personnel matters for American and Foreign Service employees for all agencies at post. The support for USAID is limited to certain matters only.
The Regional Security Office (RSO) is the State Department’s professional Security Office serving the Mission’s security needs in Ecuador. The assigned officer is responsible for security matters of Mission interest throughout Ecuador. The RSO function is supported by an assistant RSO, secretary, residential security coordinator a seven-person U.S. Marine Security Guard Detachment, local police, and contract guard force.

The Consular Section reports a total of approximately 20,000 registered American citizens in Ecuador. Over the last 3 years, the Embassy and Consulate General in Guayaquil together have processed between 60,000 to 65,000 nonimmigrant visa applications from Ecuadorians each year. They also provide a wide array of services to Americans residing in or visiting Ecuador.

The Public Affairs Section (PAS) offices are on the second floor of the Chancery (telephone 593-2-2561-059). PAS provides information to the Ecuadorian press; furnishes supplies, tapes, materials, and VOA broadcasts to radio stations; provides programs and information to TV stations; organizes cultural programs of various kinds to promote intercultural understanding; and arranges educational exchanges. The PAS/IRC Center and Fulbright Office is located on Almagro 961 and Colon and can be reached through at 593-2-254-9570 (IRC) or at 593-2-2222-103/4 (Fulbright).

The Narcotics Affairs Section is located on Avenida Colombia 1573 and Queseras del Medio (telephone 593-2- 290-3107). The section has nine employees in Quito and two employees in Guayaquil and provides assistance to Ecuadorian institutions in their fight against trafficking in drugs, precursor chemicals, persons, and weapons. The Fiscal Year 2002 budget for NAS was $15.7 million. Agency for International Development (AID) offices are located on Avenida Colombia l573 and Queseras del Medio (telephone 593-2-2232-100 and 593-2- 2232-101). USAID cooperates with the Government of Ecuador in the areas of strengthening Democracy, Southern Border Integration, Southern Border Development, Poverty Reduction, and Biodiversity Conservation.

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office is located on Avenida Colombia 1573 and Queseras del Medio (telephone 593-2-2529-088). In addition to reporting on the agricultural situation in Ecuador and promoting the sale of U.S. agricultural products, the regional agricultural attaché stationed in Lima, Peru, provides information on U.S. import regulations affecting pets, foods, and other plant and animals going to the U.S.

Commercial Service (CS) office is located on Avenida Colombia 1573 and Queseras del Medio (telephone 593-2-2561-404) as part of the Business Assistance Center, and in the Consulate General in Guayaquil (telephone 593-4- 2530-908). Both offices support U.S. business through trade counseling, export promotion services, investment assistance, and tourism development.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office is in the Embassy in Quito (telephone 593-2-2556-505) on the second floor of the Chancery, and in the Consulate General in Guayaquil (telephone 593-4-2516-500). INS is responsible for enforcing U.S. immigration laws and regulations, covering a wide range of activities from criminal investigations to adjudication of applications for benefits.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (telephone 593-2-2230-053) is located in the Banco de los Andes building, Amazonas and Roca. DEA provides technical assistance and coordinates training for several enforcement agencies of the Ecuadorian Government. Similar assistance is provided to other government institutions dealing with drug abuse prevention.

Defense Attaché Office (DAO) is a subordinate element of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The USDAO in Quito has three principal missions:

observing and reporting military developments of interest to national security;

representing the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Service Secretaries, and the respective military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard) in Ecuador; and

advising the Ambassador on military matters.
U.S. Military Group (USMILGP) office, located at Colina 1488 and San Ignacio, coordinates and administers U.S. programs of military assistance (telephone 593-2-2520-146).

Peace Corps (PC) office is located at Ave. Granda Centeno 734 y Barón de Carondellet (telephone 593-2-2459-695/2248-807). The Peace Corps has been in Ecuador since 1962. Some 165 volunteers work every year throughout the country on a variety of projects, such as agribusiness, agricultural extension, animal production, public health, youth development, and natural resources. The Peace Corps contingent here in Ecuador is the second largest in the Western Hemisphere.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:22 PM

Near the Embassy are a variety of excellent hotels, which often accommodate new arrivals. The Swissotel, Hotel Hilton Colon, Radisson Hotel, and Marriott Hotel are international chain hotels. New arrivals should expect to stay in hotels for 6–8 weeks while locating permanent housing. For those families wishing to move into permanent quarters before their household goods arrive, GSO has a limited amount of furniture and household supplies (linens, kitchen equipment, etc.) available for temporary loan.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:23 PM

Government-owned quarters are available for the Ambassador and the USAID Director. The Ambassador’s residence is a 19-room Spanish-style home with traditional furniture. Located on 9 acres of land with tennis court and swimming pool on the edge of a ridge in east Quito, it has a view of the broad Tumbaco Valley and snow-capped Cayambe Volcano. A modern multilevel five-bedroom government-leased house is available for the DCM. All other personnel are on living quarters allowance and are allowed to go out on the local market and find their own homes within certain restrictions, including a preference for apartments over single-family homes due to security concerns.

Quito has houses and apartments, ranging in style from colonial to ultramodern. The Embassy recommends that you consider apartments over houses since they are inherently more secure. Rents are higher than in the U.S. The GSO maintains a list of approved real estate agents who will assist you in locating suitable housing.

Houses ordinarily have three or four bedrooms, a family room, two or more bathrooms, and a room and bath for a live-in maid. They usually have small yards. Virtually, all of Quito’s newer houses are split-level or multilevel. Duplexes and apartments typically have three or four bedrooms and domestic employees quarters. Apartments are newer than detached houses. Most houses have walls or fences around the property, and lower windows often have protective metal grillwork. Apartment buildings usually have porters or guards. The Embassy General Services Office surveys new quarters and will suggest modifications to improve maintenance and security. Many people who live in houses share the cost of a security guard with their neighbors.

Furnishings Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:25 PM

Furnished houses and apartments are difficult to find, and the furniture is not always suited to American taste. Quito is an unfurnished post for State and most other agencies. A stove, refrigerator, freezer, water distiller or purifier, up to three space heaters, and washer and dryer are provided to all State personnel as well as employees of most other agencies.

Do not bring any major appliances. Bring small appliances, kitchenware, and household gadgets, as they are more expensive than in the U.S. Anyone who enjoys fresh fruit juice will find an electric juice extractor or blender helpful.

Full government furnishings are provided to USAID direct-hire personnel. They normally receive a full household set of government-owned furniture and furnishings in keeping with the size limitations specified in the housing standards. The following appliances are included in the household furniture sets: refrigerator, freezer, stove, washer, dryer, and two electric heaters. USAID personnel are also provided with an adequate drapery and curtain allowance. Consult the executive officer for more information.

Personnel of other agencies should write their respective offices for information. GSO has a limited supply of furniture and appliances (such as beds, chairs, dining tables, chests of drawers, night tables, lamps) available for temporary loan to furnish quarters until personal household goods arrive. Several hospitality kits are available and contain dishes, glassware, cutlery, pots and pans, bed and bath linens, and an iron. GSO will lend out card tables and chairs. The post will not otherwise provide supplemental furnishings to those who have received authorization for a full shipment of household effects (HHE).

You will generally be able to use whatever furniture you might have in the U.S. The cool nights in Quito make one or two space heaters desirable. Curtains and rugs do not usually come with houses or apartments. Good wool and cotton rugs are available locally, most of them handmade, and they can be made to order relatively inexpensively. Bring family room and den furniture (not applicable for AID employees).

Large windows of irregular size are common. Sheer curtains are widely used here. This fabric is available locally, but it is less expensive in the U.S.

Furniture can be made to order in Ecuador, but it takes a long time and may be subject to cracks and drying out. Rattan and wicker are available at reasonable prices. Inexpensive recovering and reupholstering is done here, and expert furniture repair is available. Good quality fabrics are expensive, and the selection is limited.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:26 PM

Most homes have reservoir tanks, pumps, and small electric water heaters. Houses and apartments have modern plumbing for the most part. Due to long waits for new phones, rent a house or apartment with a telephone already installed.

Residences are not normally equipped with kitchen appliances. Personnel who are not authorized to receive stoves, refrigerators, washers, and dryers from their agencies should bring them. Many homes have parquet floors, and a floor-polisher is nice, although you can contract someone at a reasonable price to polish your floor.

Electric current is the same as in the U.S.: 110v, 60 cycles, with 220v available for stoves and dryers. Do not rent a home without 220v triple-phase current available for appliances. Some new homes have either no light fixtures or inadequate fixtures, and the tenant may have to purchase and install lighting. Although available, all types of electrical fixtures are expensive locally; you may want to consider purchasing lamps or other electrical lighting and have them shipped.

Homes in Quito have no central heating, and evenings can be quite chilly. Some houses are colder than others; those with eastern and western exposure benefit from the strong equatorial sunshine and are warmer than those with north-south exposure. Most houses have fireplaces, and some have electric baseboard head. Apartments usually do not have fireplaces or other electric heat. Many people have found space heaters and electric blankets useful. Most residences have fireplaces, and some have electric baseboard heat. The cost of electricity is higher than in the U.S.

Lawn furniture is useful during the day for houses, but in the evenings it is usually too cold to sit outdoors. If you like to garden, bring your own equipment. Gardeners do not charge high prices (about $20 per visit), and generally provide their own equipment, except for a water hose.

At times in the past, Ecuador has experienced electricity shortages due to lack of rainfall in the southern part of the country. Extended power rationing has often occurred during winter months. The rationing has not occurred recently. However, post does have many portable generators and LPG cooking units that may be installed in approved quarters. Incoming employees are strongly encouraged, however, to choose housing that already includes an emergency generator.

Food Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:28 PM

Ecuador has a plentiful supply of tropical fruits and vegetables all year, with varieties not seen in North America. Avocados, artichokes, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, pineapples, and papaya can be purchased all year, and peaches, apples, pears and other fruit can be found in season. Several markets in Quito have fresh produce, seafood, chicken and meat, cut flowers, and potted plants.

Beef, pork, lamb, and veal can be bought in supermarkets and butcher shops. Filet mignon costs about half the U.S. price. Chicken is more expensive, and turkey costs about twice as much as in the U.S. Both American and European cuts of meat are available, though the beef here is usually un-aged, and may be tough. Some families use meat tenderizers or marinade. A pressure cooker is very useful for cooking at altitude.

Although a wide variety of food items are available in Ecuador, including items imported from the U.S. and Europe, certain American foods are difficult to find or are very expensive. The Embassy commissary (AERA) is open to all personnel who have “cupo,” a yearly importation allowance granted by the Ecuadorian Government to Mission employees with diplomatic titles or their equivalent. AERA stocks wine, liquor, cigarettes, a limited supply of frozen and canned food items, and paper goods. Turkeys are brought in for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Personnel should bring any nonperishable special food requirements in their household effects. Supplies can also be mailed via APO.

Milk is pasteurized, though quality control is irregular, and comes in disposable paper cartons or plastic bags. Heavy cream is available in the supermarkets, and sour cream can be found in some stores. A variety of cheeses are available, though not of the same quality or variation as can be found in the U.S. Several brands of ice cream are considered safe, and several brands of good yogurt are available. Excellent pastry and a variety of breads can be purchased in Quito and the surrounding small towns.

Quito has two large supermarket chains (Supermaxi and Mi Comisariato) which are well stocked with groceries, dry goods, and fresh products at very reasonable prices. U.S. goods are available, but at somewhat higher prices than in the U.S. Comparable Ecuadorian and Latin American products are less expensive. Many small shops and delicatessens offer excellent quality foodstuffs, such as ham, sausages, cold cuts, pickles, olives, and pastas. In general, the cook who can use the local foods with imagination will find it economical to do without processed, packaged, and imported goods.

Ecuadorian cuisine depends heavily on corn, potatoes, and pork. Wonderful soups are made with the great assortment of vegetables. One local specialty is locro, a potato soup with cheese and avocado; another is llapingachos, a potato and cheese pancake. Delicious cebiche (marinated seafood), humitas (baked corn cakes), and empanadas (pastries filled with meat or cheese) are standard fare.

Clothing Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:29 PM

Light-to-medium-weight clothing is used throughout the year in Quito. Due to varying temperatures during the course of the day, you may need sweaters, jackets, or raincoats, and an umbrella. In general, you can use almost anything in your wardrobe, except heavy winter clothing. Bring summer clothing for trips to the beach and the jungle, and swimsuits for the heated pools in Quito. Warmup suits are a must for joggers and tennis players in Quito. Bathrobes and warm pajamas will be a comfort. Hats are useful for protection from the sun. A wide assortment of brimmed hats in beautiful colors and styles can be bought in Ecuador for much less than in the U.S. A lightweight coat will be welcomed on some of Quito’s chilliest evenings. Bring a winter coat in case a trip to Washington in January comes up. A down parka, hat, and gloves also come in handy when visiting the volcanoes.

Many boutiques offer stylish clothing, dresses, and suits imported from the U.S. and Europe, but prices are high. Locally made sweaters are inexpensive. Leather and suede coats for men and women can be made to order. Fashionable knitwear may be bought readymade or made to order at reasonable prices. Drycleaning is inexpensive, and the quality is good.

Boots and shoes of good quality leather can be made to order. In women’s shoes, U.S. sizes above 8½ are hard to find in ready to wear. In men’s shoes, U.S. sizes above 9½ are also hard to find.

Men Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:30 PM

Light-to-medium-weight suits are worn all year. Sport coats, sweaters, slacks, and long-sleeved sports shirts are useful for informal and casual gatherings. A raincoat with a zip-in lining is welcome on chilly evenings. Business and professional men do not wear hats, except when watching sports events or other outdoor activities. Equestrians should bring riding hats. Good tailoring is available at reasonable prices. Tuxedoes are occasionally needed; white dinner jackets are not worn.

Women Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:30 PM

Blouses, skirts, sweaters, slacks, and jackets are standard daily wear in Quito. Because mornings and evenings are cool and temperatures at noon quite warm, a cardigan or blazer is usually worn or carried. Lightweight wool is the most practical material. Informal and casual clothes are worn at social gatherings outside the city on the weekends, but simple cocktail dresses are needed for dinner parties and Embassy receptions during the week in town. Long-sleeved dresses with jackets and dinner suits are good choices for chilly evenings.

Rainwear and a light or medium weight coat, stole, or cape for evenings are necessary. Hats are worn for protection against the equatorial sun. Embroidered capes and stoles, different kinds of sweaters, and ponchos are available locally. Dressmakers are available and fabric can be purchased locally or sent via APO. A formal gown is recommended for the Marine Ball held each November.

Children Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:31 PM

Light- to medium-weight clothes are the rule. Warm, inexpensive sweaters can be bought locally. Bring raincoats, boots, and shoes. You should bring with you any special sporting attire or equipment. Warm pajamas or nightgowns, bathrobes, and slippers are recommended. Teenagers of both sexes seem to live in jeans and tennis shoes, but those who like discotheques and parties will need more formal clothing, especially if invited to a Quince Años party. Young men will probably want at least one sports coat and girls a nice dress, skirt, or pantsuit.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:32 PM

The Embassy Health Unit has a limited supply of drugs. Local pharmacies carry most medicines and drugs but availability of items varies from month to month. Special medicines and normal medicine cabinet medications should be brought in quantity. These items may include: vitamins, birth control supplies, feminine hygiene, aspirin, acetaminophen, cough syrups, cold medicines, antibiotic ointments, Band-aids, hair dye, contact lens medication, sunscreens, insect and any daily medications (i.e., prescription drugs or medicines). The commissary does carry aspirin, Tylenol, and some cold medications. Most U.S. and European toiletries and cosmetics are available in local stores. Cosmetic brands are limited, so you may prefer to bring an adequate supply of makeup and nail polish.

If you plan to sew or use a dressmaker’s services, bring a supply of sewing accessories, especially thread and zippers. A wide range of fabrics is available at varying prices, but imported fabrics are expensive. Good quality woolens and synthetics are manufactured locally. Bring basic tools, as well as any hobby and do-it-yourself equipment. Batteries of all sizes are available.

School supplies, stationery, quality envelopes, greeting cards, wrapping paper, and ribbon can be scarce and expensive. Bring a supply of English-language greeting cards. Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, waxed paper, toilet paper, and disposable diapers are available locally. Plain paper napkins can be bought, but the quality is only fair. Candles are sold in different sizes and colors at U.S. prices, but the dripless variety are not available. Artists should bring all supplies.

Children’s toys are expensive. Bring toys for your children and for gifts. Bring lunch boxes for kindergarten and elementary school-age children. Items may also be mail-ordered and shipped via APO.

Basic Services Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:33 PM

Parts for common electrical appliances, electronic products, and cars are often available, but expensive. Parts ordered from the U.S. take a long time to arrive, and if sent airfreight they will spend 1–2 months awaiting customs clearance. Local mechanics are good. The cost of service on cars and appliances is lower than in the U.S. Painting is inexpensive. Radio, phonograph, and TV repairs can be done by Embassy technicians on their own time or by local shops. Employees should note that currently, most ATMs in Quito do not accept ATM cards issued by the State Department Federal Credit Union. Cards using CIRRUS or PLUS are accepted by teller machines throughout Quito.

Quito has many excellent hairdressers and barbershops, and prices are lower than in the U.S. Hairdressers, masseuses, and manicurists will come to your home at a reasonable cost. Several cosmetologists offer good service at low prices. Many reputable local artisans make and repair jewelry for much less than in the U.S. Good catering services are available in the city, and prices are reasonable. Several good tailors and dressmakers are available at a range of prices.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:34 PM

Domestic maids and gardeners are available for reasonable wages. Personnel sometimes prefer live-in maids for babysitting duties and for security reasons; however, live-in maids are becoming harder to find. There are few trained nannies, although some maids handle childcare responsibilities well. Many maids can cook, but it is hard to find cooks who will handle other household duties or who are trained for representational duties. Good caterers are available. Many people in houses share the cost of a security guard with their neighbors.

A combination maid-cook is generally desirable for a single person or a couple without children. Large families often hire more than one domestic employee. Domestic employees who live out generally earn between $150 and $200 (including their transportation allowance) per month. Workers who come in by the day generally earn about $10 a day.

Under Ecuadorian law and Embassy regulations, domestic employees must be covered by Ecuadorian Social Security. Stringent laws cover employment and termination. These regulations are included in orientation material for new arrivals and should be read and followed carefully.

In addition to an annual salary, the domestic employee receives (per Ecuadorian law) a 13th- and 14th-month salary plus a supplementary compensation. Live-out maids are also entitled to a transportation allowance. Although the employee and the employer are required to pay a portion of the employee’s income to the Social Security system, most employers in Ecuador pay the entire amount for their domestic employees. By law, domestic employees are entitled to 1 day off every 2 weeks, but in practice they receive 1 day off each week. Domestics are entitled to 15 days paid vacation annually, but are not entitled to any holidays. Employers are required by law to provide uniforms for their domestic help.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:35 PM

Ecuador is primarily a Catholic country, and Quito is the seat of an Archbishop. About 70 Catholic churches in the city serve Spanish-speaking congregations. An English-language service is held in the Dominican Chapel each Sunday morning, and confessions may be heard.

Traditional Jewish services in Spanish and Hebrew are offered each Friday evening and Saturday morning at the “Communidad Judea de Ecuador” in Carcelén, a small town outside Quito.

The community has many Protestant activities and services in English. The Advent-St. Nicholas Church (Lutheran and Anglican) offers a worship service and adult discussion group every Sunday morning at Isabel La Catolica 1431. The First Baptist Church has Sunday school classes and worship services. The Interdenominational English Fellowship Church, sponsored by the World Radio Missionary Fellowship (which runs radio stations HCJB and Voz Andes Hospital), offers Bible school and services on Sunday and a teen group program.

The Seventh-day Adventists offer services on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings and operates the Clinica Americana. Jehovah’s Witnesses also have weekly services. The Church of the Latter-day Saints has Sunday services in Spanish.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:36 PM

Quito has many public and private primary and secondary schools. Cotopaxi Academy, Alliance Academy, the British School, and Evergreen are private schools usually preferred by Americans in Quito. Cotopaxi Academy receives limited grant support from the U.S. Government. The educational allowance covers the costs at any of these schools.

Cotopaxi Academy was founded in 1959 as a private, cooperative, American nonsectarian school offering classes from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 (and has a playgroup for children aged 3 to 4). The school year runs from mid-August to mid-June. Some 500 students attend the school. About 20% are Americans, 40% are Ecuadorians, and 40% other nationalities. Instruction is in English, and both Spanish and English are taught as second languages. The teachers are certified in the U.S., and classes are limited to 20 students. An International Baccalaureate Diploma is offered for qualified students going on to universities around the world. It is located in the northern part of the city.

Cotopaxi is affiliated with the Universities of Alabama, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania for student teaching internship programs. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the International Baccalaureate Office in Geneva. In addition to the traditional academic subjects, classes are offered in art, band, physical education, computers, and drama. There is an extensive after-school program, especially at the elementary level. Standard U.S. texts, teaching materials, and tests are used. Extracurricular activities include a yearbook, newspaper, National Honor Society, Student Council, and several sports. Three guidance counselors are on the staff.

Programs for children with learning disabilities are limited, but available from prekindergarten through grade 8, although previous screening is necessary. For children in higher grades who have special disabilities, consult the school and post prior to arrival.

Alliance Academy, founded in 1929 for the children of missionaries, is a privately supported college preparatory school. The school provides educational facilities to the children of Protestant missionaries from Quito, as well as those from other parts of Latin America. It has pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The school year runs from early August to late May. Of some 530 students, 60% are children of missionaries from many different missions, and 40% are children of diplomatic and international business families. Fifty percent are U.S and Canadian citizens, 25% are host country nationals, and 25% are third-country nationals. Children from other international families are accepted on a space-available basis. The Christian Philosophy of Education is the focus of the school. Daily Bible classes and weekly chapels are a required part of the curriculum. Students of all faiths are accepted.

Classes are taught in English, and Spanish classes are required for all students. The basic subjects resemble those in most U.S. schools. Electives include woodworking, art, typing, home economics, photography, shorthand, and yearbook publication. Advanced placement courses are offered in math, English, and Spanish. Computer math and programming are also offered. The school is well supplied with learning materials, including three fully equipped science laboratories, elementary and secondary school libraries, and an audiovisual center. The library holds about 35,000 volumes, 800 films, 2,000 filmstrips, and videotaping facilities. Spanish and English are taught as second languages. Programs are available for the gifted as well as for the mentally handicapped. The school conducts a full and varied sports and extracurricular program, including chorus, band, and orchestra.

Alliance Academy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and belongs to the Southern Association of Independent Schools, the Association of Christian Schools International, and the Association of American Schools of South America.

Preschools. Embassy families have used several good preschools. There is at least one English-speaking preschool. Some accept children from age 18 months. A list can be provided by the CLO upon arrival.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:38 PM

Special Educational Opportunities Universidad San Francisco, Catholic University and the National Polytechnic School offer academic instruction at the university level in Quito. San Francisco and Catholic Universities have faculties of Law, Economics, Engineering, and Philosophy. The Polytechnic School offers courses in electrical and chemical engineering and nuclear science. All classes are taught in Spanish. The admissions process is lengthy and difficult.

Catholic University offers special 6-week intensive courses in Spanish for about $350. The course consists of 3 hours of class 5 days a week. Many Americans take this course. You can also find many schools in the city offering Spanish lessons at very reasonable rates (private lessons between $5 and $8/hour). Tutors will also come to your house if requested.

Various well-known local artists accept students of all ages for private classes, and several resident Americans also give art lessons.

The National Conservatory of Music accepts students for voice training and instruction in musical instruments, especially piano and violin. Students attending the schools normally used by the American community may receive instruction in a variety of instruments. Students must have their own musical instruments, although the schools do rent smaller instruments.

The University of Alabama College of Education offers graduate studies in education in Quito. Visiting professors offer courses in secondary education, elementary and early childhood education, and administration and planning. Four-week courses are offered in the fall and spring and during the summer to fulfill credit requirements toward a master’s degree or Ph.D.

Several museums in Quito have impressive collections of paintings, archeological objects, and historical manuscripts. The National Museum of History has a noteworthy manuscript collection. The Casa de la Cultura often sponsors exhibits and performances of local artists. The National Museum of Colonial Art has an outstanding collection of sculpture and paintings.

The premier museum in Quito is in the Central Bank Museum, which is located at the Casa de la Cultura, across the street from the Embassy. Divided into separate archeological and colonial exhibits, the museum shows carefully selected pieces in a well-designed arrangement. Tours are conducted in several languages, and the museum shows an English-language film describing the country’s history and archeology. Another interesting ethnographic museum is located several miles north of Quito at the Mitad del Mundo monument on the Equator. Nearby are the partially excavated ruins of an Inca fortress with guides on weekends.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:41 PM

Soccer is Ecuador’s most popular sport, and games are played in Quito year round at the Olympic Stadium. Bullfights are also popular. In December, a series of bullfights are held to celebrate Quito Day and some of the world’s leading bullfighters perform then.

Those interested in outdoor and indoor sports will not lack for opportunity in Ecuador. A tennis court at the Ambassador’s residence is available to all Mission personnel. Also, a children’s playground is located on the grounds of the Ambassador’s residence for the children of all Mission personnel. Local parks are widely used on weekends. There are tennis, racquetball, basketball, and squash courts but memberships are high, as well as bowling alleys. Volleyball is very popular. Bicycling is possible in the parks, but dangerous on the road. Flying lessons are available, and there is a small hang-gliding group.

Health facilities and clubs are available in Quito, but range quite a bit in price and services offered. Most offer aerobics classes, weight lifting machines, and swimming pools. Memberships are available at the Hotel Hilton Colon, Swissotel, Hotel Quito and Elan Gym. Prices range from $800 to $3,000 per year, for single membership.

Both Academia Cotopaxi and Alliance Academy offer evening intramural sports programs for adults, including basketball and volleyball. Academia Cotopaxi has an Olympic-sized swimming pool that can be used by the family members of their alumni.

There are opportunities for horseback riding in the Los Chillos valley. Buying and maintaining a horse is much less expensive than in the U.S. Lessons are available at different clubs, and riding competitions are held monthly. Polo players will find a small but enthusiastic group of colleagues in Quito.

The Los Chillos valley, located about 45 minutes south of Quito, has several beautiful country clubs that offer dining facilities, tennis courts, golf courses, and stables. You can often join these clubs at transient membership costs of approximately $3,000 down and $300 a month.

Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy excellent freshwater and deep-sea fishing in Ecuador. Off the coast, deep-sea tackle is needed for the abundant marlin, tuna, dorado, and other species. Areas close to Quito have good stream and lake fishing for bass and trout. The best trout waters are located high in the mountains, in cold and rainy areas where parkas and waterproof pants are essential. A license to fish anywhere in Ecuador is required.

Good dove hunting can be found near Quito, partridge may be hunted in areas several hours away by car, and duck hunting is good on the coast. The Hunting and Fishing Club has a new clubhouse and excellent shooting range at Lago San Pablo. An overnight trip by car and horseback takes the hunter into good deer hunting country. Guns must be registered. Advice and assistance in registration may be obtained from the Embassy. (See also Firearms and Ammunition.)

Mountain climbing, hiking, camping, and kayaking are popular. Most of the mountains are not technically difficult, but the altitude, ranging from 14,000 to 20,000 feet, can cause problems. There are several climbing clubs. Mules and guides can be hired in villages near Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Tungurahua. Crude “refugios” on these mountains offer shelter and cooking facilities. No one skis in Ecuador. The snow-covered peaks are steep and laced with crevasses. The Hash House Harriers has an active branch in Quito. This group sponsors runs twice a month and regularly organizes outings.

Ecuador is a paradise for the amateur photographer. Black-and-white, Kodachrome, and Ektachrome color film can be processed locally. Making pictures from slides is expensive. Although local processing is readily available, for between $5 and $12, some Mission personnel have film processed in the U.S. via APO. Film can be purchased locally but it may be a good idea to bring extra film with you or order through APO for better prices.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:46 PM

Almost every corner of the country offers opportunities for interesting exploration. Anyone planning to take advantage of all possibilities will want to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Most sightseeing can be done on long weekends.

Half an hour drive to the north of Quito is the equatorial monument at “Mitad del Mundo,” marking the division between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Two hours from Quito is Otavalo, home of indigenous people known throughout the continent for their weaving. Their colorful Saturday morning market is a must for tourists, although you can now find a smaller version of the market on any day of the week. The towns of Cotacachi and San Antonio de Ibarra, near Otavalo, are known for leatherwork and woodcarving, respectively.

About 3 hours by car south of Quito on the Pan American Highway is Ambato, Ecuador’s fourth-largest city, which has an annual Festival of Fruits and Flowers held during Carnival. The region is known for its rug factories. Southeast of Ambato is the secluded and peaceful town of Baños, perched on the eastern edge of the Andean plateau at the foot of the Tungurahua volcano. Like many other resort towns in the mountains, Baños is known for its thermal springs. Metropolitan Touring offers an interesting trip by bus from Quito to the colonial city of Riobamba, continuing through this area by monorail to the Nariz del Diablo, and from there by bus on to Cuenca, with stops at the local indigenous markets.

In the southern part of the country, continuing on from Riobamba is Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest and perhaps most picturesque city, known for its artisan work and hand-woven rugs and woolens. Many factories that do the finish work on the Panama hats, which are made in small towns close to the coast. The ruins of an ancient Inca fortress are nearby. The province of Loja, in the southernmost part of Ecuador, is famous for the town of Vilcabamba, whose residents are known for their longevity.

Trips can be made by road or air into the Oriente and the jungle. The low-lying tropics are a pleasant contrast to Quito’s cool climate. Metropolitan Touring offers excursions into the jungle, and dugout canoe rides.

West of Quito, 3 hours by car down the Andean slope, is Santo Domingo de Los Colorados, home of indigenous people who traditionally color their hair and skin with natural pigments. The area offers a wide variety of tropical fruits and other products. Further down the road, 6–8 hours by car from Quito, is Guayaquil, the nation’s largest city. Up and down the coast are beaches, some deserted, some dirty, some beautiful, and some highly urbanized, that offer a pleasant reprieve from Quito’s altitude. The Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast, are famous for their wildlife. In recent years, Ecuador has taken great care to preserve the flora and fauna of the islands, strictly licensing and controlling the tourist industry that flourishes there. A proper tour of the islands takes at least a week. Ships operating in the tourist trade range from converted fishing sloops with room for no more than six passengers to luxurious cruise vessels offering all the comforts of a large hotel.

Entertainment Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:47 PM

Quito has some comfortable cinemas that show films in English with Spanish subtitles. Most of the movies considered “children’s” movies are dubbed in Spanish with no English subtitles. Well over half the films are American, and major releases usually arrive in Quito within four months of their premiere in the U.S. The Casa de la Cultura offers foreign film series in conjunction with various embassies. Various art galleries with frequent exhibits are well advertised. The Mexican Cultural Center and the Alianza Francaise are among the many international centers offering monthly programs.

The National Symphony Orchestra offers an annual series of concerts, often with guest artists and conductors.

Many talented groups of Ecuadorian musicians offer concerts and perform in the folk and jazz music houses. The music of the Andes is especially known for its use of pipes, guitars, percussion instruments, and the “charango,” a mandolinlike instrument fashioned from the body of an armadillo. For those who prefer a different kind of popular music, several good discotheques are located in town.

Quito has a growing number of nightclubs, most of which are small. Casinos in the major hotels have slot machines, roulette, blackjack, and dice tables.

The city has a variety of restaurants featuring Ecuadorian and international cuisine. Prices are reasonable except for wine, which is imported. Many U.S.-style fast food restaurants offer hamburgers, pizza, and fried chicken for those suffering from culture shock.

Social Activities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:48 PM

No formal organizations exist exclusively for Americans. There are many opportunities for U.S. citizens to meet and work with Ecuadorians and other foreign nationals. Quito has 36 resident and 37 nonresident embassies, plus several international organizations. A Consular Corps group and Diplomatic Association meet monthly. Within the U.S. Mission, the Mission Community Group is quite active with monthly luncheons, children’s activities, and fund-raising events. Any American employee or family member can join the activities this group sponsors. Membership in private clubs facilitates contact with influential Quito residents. The Damas Norteamericanas y Britanicas runs a small library and supplies funds for many local charities through profits made at its Thrift Shop and annual Christmas bazaar. Women officers or wives of officers on the diplomatic list may join the Damas Diplomaticas as active members. The Women’s Christian Fellowship Group holds monthly meetings, weekly Bible study groups, and occasionally sponsors trips and seminars.

American employees are welcome to join the Ecuadorian nationals as members of the Asociacion de Empleados del Gobierno Americano (ADEGA).

The Ecuadorian-American Chamber of Commerce has a large and growing membership, including many prominent Ecuadorian and U.S. resident business representatives. Each month the organization sponsors a luncheon with a wellknown speaker.

The Rotary and Lions Clubs are active. The Ecuadorian Canine Association sponsors dog shows, registers purebreds, and is involved in other activities. Quito has Cub Scouts, and several Embassy family members have volunteered their time as Troop Leaders. All personnel and family members can participate in cultural activities such as art exhibits, folk dancing, archeological tours, lectures, concerts, and many other events.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:54 PM

Senior personnel on the diplomatic list are involved in the usual number and types of diplomatic functions. Other personnel are involved less often. The custom in Ecuador for National Day celebrations is a midday reception for the diplomatic corps and government officials.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:55 PM

Newcomers and spouses are introduced to the Ambassador and DCM within a few days of arrival, usually by their immediate supervisors. Appointments may be made through their secretaries.

Mission personnel should consult with their supervisors concerning current policy on other formal calls. Diplomatic and consular officers are announced to the Foreign Ministry by note. Officers may use from 100 to 200 business/calling cards per year, and spouses may need a small supply. Cards of acceptable quality are printed or engraved in Ecuador at a reasonable cost. It is the custom in Ecuador for high-ranking officials to send flowers when invited to someone’s house for the first time, and cards are needed on these occasions.

The CLO distributes Social Usage, a useful guide to protocol at post and in Ecuador.

Special Information Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:56 PM

Military Personnel. General information about Quito in this report applies in all respects to officers and enlisted personnel assigned to the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) and the U.S. Military Office (USMILGP). Military personnel will need summer uniforms. For specific uniform requirements, consult the office to which you are assigned. DAO has some appliances and furniture available to assigned personnel. Correspond with DAO for details.

Contract Personnel. U.S. contract personnel are normally eligible for such Mission services as APO, AERA membership, check cashing, snackbar, library, and Chancery purified water. They are not eligible for Health Unit privileges. Third-country national contract personnel are given a courtesy identity card and have the same privileges as U.S. contract personnel, with the exception that they are not usually eligible for APO facilities.

Insurance. The high incidence of theft in households and on shipping docks has made personal property insurance an important consideration for newly assigned personnel. Arrange for insurance before leaving the U.S. The Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act of 1964, as amended, provides basic protection.

Post Orientation Program

New arrivals and their family members are introduced to the Embassy’s functions by the Community Liaison Office and their individual sponsors. Newcomers are shown around to each office and agency of the Mission by their sponsors and receive a comprehensive Welcome Packet, which includes policies and notices, a map, a city guide, and other helpful information. Medical, Security, and GSO briefings are scheduled as part of the orientation process, and you will receive additional information at each of these briefings. Immediate supervisors also help newcomers settle into life in Quito.

Consulate General - Guayaquil

Post City Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:57 PM

This sea level city, formally named Santiago de Guayaquil, was founded in 1538. Tropical, bustling and noisy, Guayaquil is located on the Guayas River and boasts a large deepwater seaport on the saltwater estuary 8 miles south of the center of town. The city is located 50 miles upriver from the Pacific Ocean. A few small hills rise abruptly in the northern residential section; the rest of the city is flat. With a population approaching 2,500,000, the city is growing rapidly, with extensive slums expanding on stilts over tidal estuaries. The city also has modern residential areas of attractive walled homes and gardens and many multi-story apartment and condominium buildings. Temperatures are generally pleasant during the dry season from June to December, and no worse than Washington, D.C. in midsummer during the remainder of the year. Mosquitoes are common during the rainy season from January to May.

The business center is becoming increasingly modern, although unpainted cane buildings still exist side by side with modern high-rise structures on some streets. Many of the streets are in deplorable condition during most of the year despite patchwork repairs. Guayaquil’s vital commercial activity and frequently turbulent political life can help make for an interesting tour, although street crime and burglaries have become a serious problem. The American community of several thousand new and long-time residents is well integrated with a much larger number of dual nationals, third-country citizens, and Ecuadorians who were educated or worked in the U.S. Post personnel who speak good Spanish have little difficulty in expanding their friendships into the open and hospitable community at large.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:58 PM

The Consulate General, located on the corner of 9 de Octubre and Garcia Moreno on the fringe of the downtown area (telephone 323–570), is open 5 days a week from 8 am to 5 pm. The air-conditioned building has two TDY apartments on the upper floors for American personnel. Personnel also have access to an apartment converted into an Employees Recreation Center with bar, billiards, video room and terrace, which can be used for parties. The Consulate General occupies a 5-story building, which also houses DEA, INS, CS, TAT, and OSI/AF.

The international airport is about 2 miles from the Consulate General. American and Continental Airlines are the only American flag lines serving Guayaquil. Taxis are readily available, but new personnel will be met if advance notification is received at the post.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:58 PM

If their permanent quarters are not available for immediate occupancy, personnel are housed in one of the Consulate General’s TDY apartments.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:58 PM

The principal officer’s residence lies on a 2,000 sq. mt. plot of land. Living quarters occupy 750 sq. mt. The residence has 5 bedrooms, 5½ baths, 2 living rooms, dining room, family room, study, kitchen, laundry area, maids room, guard room, and a covered garage for 6 cars. It also has an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, marble floor in the social areas and corridors, carpet in all bedrooms and central air-conditioning.

Housing for State Department personnel is government furnished, leased quarters, so only a limited shipment of household effects is authorized. Quarters for other agency personnel are government leased, government furnished. Consult with your receiving office for more details.

Hospitality kits are available for personnel in transient status. These kits include such items as dinnerware, stainless flatware, cookware, iron and ironing board, blankets, sheets, pillows and pillowcases, and towels. These items are normally available only until the arrival of your unaccompanied airfreight. Ship airfreight to arrive as soon as possible after your arrival.

Furnishings Last Updated: 1/13/2004 1:59 PM

As indicated, all State Department housing and all apartments in the Consulate General building have government furnishings. It is not necessary for State personnel to bring any furniture, except small appliances, items that are needed for decoration, or other items as required by personal taste. The principal officer’s home also has china, silverware, cooking utensils, and linens.

Furnishings provided for State Department personnel occupying government-leased quarters include major appliances: stove, refrigerator, freezer, washer, and dryer. Air-conditioners are normally provided for the living room, dining room area, and occupied bedrooms. Furniture is provided for the living room and dining room. Master bedrooms have queen-sized bedroom sets; all other occupied bedrooms have twin beds. A limited number of den sets are available. Curtains and draperies are provided within budget limitations. Towels and linens are not provided. Post does not currently provide microwave ovens or vacuum cleaners. Water distillers are installed in each home.

DEA personnel are provided with furniture, furnishings and major appliances, including stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer, and window air-conditioning units. Personnel are urged to check with their parent agency or contact the post administrative officer for further details.

Overstuffed items, leather, and books may mildew if they are not in air-conditioned rooms during the wet season. Termites, moths, and crickets can also be a problem. Wrought iron, marble, wicker, and hardwood furniture can be made to order, but often expensive. Furthermore, workers are not always dependable, and quality is frequently inferior. The buyer must beware of wooden items bought here, since wood may not be properly dried and tends to crack when moved to a different climate.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:01 PM

City water piped to houses is chlorinated and pure when it leaves the plant but is considered contaminated, because of the old pipes and their proximity to sewer lines. Drinking water for those living outside the Consulate General building is generally boiled, brought from the Consulate General (which has its own purification system), or purchased from local distributors of bottled water. The landlord usually provides an electric water heater in rented houses and apartments. Some areas of the city have frequent low pressure or water shortages because of distribution problems.

Standard two-wire, 110v, 60-cycle current is available for lights and appliances, including refrigerators and freezers. Water heaters, electric stoves, and some air-conditioners require U.S. standard three-wire, 220v–240v, 60-cycle current, which is also available. Voltage regulators or surge protectors are highly recommended to protect specialized electronic equipment such as stereos, home minicomputers, and microwave ovens against voltage fluctuations.

Post provides the following appliances to all eligible personnel: electric stove, refrigerator, automatic washer, electric dryer, freezer, and sufficient room air-conditioners for the living room and all occupied bedrooms. In addition to the appliances furnished by post, at least one electric fan for the kitchen would be useful to ship or purchase locally.

Food Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:02 PM

Many tropical fruits and vegetables are available year round, and others in season. Some Temperate Zone fruits and vegetables are brought to Guayaquil from the cool mountain valleys. Prices are reasonable, but may rise during the rainy season.

Seafood, including fresh tuna, shrimp, crab, and oysters, is in good supply most of the time and is less expensive than in the U.S., but quality varies. Beef, chicken, and pork are almost always available at prices similar to those in the U.S. Butter and cheese are of satisfactory quality. All imported foods are expensive. Soft drinks and beer are inexpensive once the bottles are purchased. As a rule of thumb, bring in quantity anything nonperishable that you use often, such as Baker’s chocolate, peanut butter, spices, or special cleaning aids.

Upon payment of a membership deposit, U.S. Government personnel assigned to Guayaquil can join the Embassy AERA. Orders are shipped by plane from Quito. The AERA is continually expanding its range of items and can provide caselot special orders.

Guayaquil has many good restaurants, fast food eateries and ice cream shops with prices similar to those in Washington, D.C. Sanitation is almost never up to U.S. standards, therefore, salads, raw seafood, and ice can cause stomach and intestinal problems.


Men Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:02 PM

Bring a dinner jacket (generally a dark jacket is used) only if you already have one. Men’s clothing can be made here from local or imported material and tailors range from very reasonable to expensive. Lightweight suits, sport coats and slacks are worn in Guayaquil. A few dark conservative suits and some sporty outfits will fill most needs. Officers dealing constantly with the public, such as the principal officer and visa officers, wear coat and tie at work. Other officers and support staff often wear the local “guayabera” sport shirts to the office.

Women Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:03 PM

You will need all your summer clothing here. Officers dealing constantly with the public, such as the principal officer and visa officers, wear dresses, suits, blouses and skirts. For cocktail parties, dinners, and dances, the latest fashions are worn. Short-sleeved cocktail dresses for evening are comfortable most of the year.

Hats are worn to protect against the strong equatorial sun. Sundresses and sandals are standard. Bring washable cottons, synthetics, and cotton blends. Tailors here make all types of clothing. Bring fabric and notions from the U.S. Cotton is more comfortable than synthetic material in this hot climate. Bring an ample supply of underwear and socks for everyone in the family.

Stoles, light sweaters, and scarves are used at night during the cooler season. Bring one or two autumn or winter outfits and party clothes for visits to Quito, Cuenca, and other mountain areas. Jackets and woolens are needed at that altitude, and warm slacks are useful. A great variety of stoles and ponchos are sold here at low prices.

Children Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:03 PM

Bring a good supply of cotton clothing, shoes, and sneakers. Blue jeans, warm jackets, rainwear, and sweaters will also be needed.

The Inter-American Academy requires school uniforms. Girls wear dark blue jeans, slacks, or skirts with white shirts with the school logo, and a blue jacket or sweater in cool weather. Shoes may be either leather or blue sneakers; sandals are not permitted. Boys wear blue jeans, white polo shirts with the school logo, sneakers, and a blue jacket or sweater. The polo shirts can be purchased from the school for a reasonable price. The PE uniform for both boys and girls is white shorts with the school logo, and a blue T-shirt with the school logo, both of which can be purchased from the school for a reasonable price, and sneakers. Reasonably priced blue jeans are available locally.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:04 PM

Most U.S. and European toiletries, cosmetics, cigarettes, and medicines are available, sometimes at less cost than in the U.S. Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, waxed paper, and other paper products are more expensive than in the U.S., and are of inferior quality. Bring an extra supply of toys and gifts for children. A charcoal grill is useful. Bring entertainment equipment. Video clubs abound in Guayaquil, with tape rentals from $1 to $2. An ice chest and beach supplies, particularly suntan lotion, are recommended.

Basic Services Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:04 PM

The city has adequate shoe repair and drycleaning, radio, phonograph, and TV repair shops. Mechanics can repair most makes of automobiles, but service is from fair to unreliable and generally slow. Automobile parts are readily available, but expensive.

Many good tailors are available to make or alter clothing. Local hairdressers are good and reasonably priced.

Single persons usually find they need at least a part-time maid, and many families have more than one domestic employee. Domestic employees’ wages will run from $100 a month for a general maid to $140 a month for a cook, plus food and uniforms. Live-in domestic help is a bit cheaper. (For details see Domestic Help-Quito.)

Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:05 PM

The prevalent faith is Roman Catholic. Several Protestant denominations are represented in Guayaquil, but only the Guayaquil English Fellowship, an interdenominational group, offers services in English. Several branches of the Mormon Church are here, with services in Spanish.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:05 PM

Educational facilities through grade 12 are generally adequate.

Inter-American Academy was formed in 1978 when the former International Section split off from the Colegio Americano. It is located in Port Azul near the river, only 5 minutes from the homes of the Americans assigned to the Consulate General. The Academy has kindergarten through grade 12 and is the only English-speaking school in Guayaquil at the high school level. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools, and offers an International Baccalaureate diploma. The Academy’s diploma and credits are not recognized by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education, because it does not follow the Ministry’s curriculum or calendar. The school year for the Academy starts in mid-August. The total 2001 student population is about 240. The school has limited athletic and laboratory facilities.

In addition to these schools, several Roman Catholic private schools have good reputations, but classes are taught entirely in Spanish. An excellent local German school is available for U.S. dependents who speak German.

Several nursery schools and Spanish-language universities are available, but the largest (University of Guayaquil) is frequently disrupted by political demonstrations, including occasional gun battles between rival groups of students.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:06 PM

Swimming, tennis, basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, jogging, bowling, and golf are enjoyed in the Guayaquil area. Lessons are available. The Tennis Club and the Country Club have swimming pools, but membership is expensive. The Oro Verde Hotel and the Hilton Hotel both have health clubs, although both are expensive. A municipal Olympic-sized public pool with adjacent running track is located nearby. The clubs, Nacional and Garibaldi, are moderately priced alternatives with tennis and swimming facilities. All houses occupied by official Americans have small private pools. Hunting in Ecuador, particularly bird hunting can be excellent. In the coastal region around Guayaquil, dove and duck hunting can be spectacular, since there are more than six species of dove and three major species of non-migrating ducks. The rice growing regions are home to the large Muscovy duck and wintering grounds for blue teal. White-tailed deer and collared peccary are game animals hunted locally. Other game includes the jaguar, but hunting is difficult in the thick swamps and rugged hills. Ecuador has no specified hunting season or bag limit. Hunters should bring all their equipment, including ammunition. Please see the Firearms and Ammunition section.

The Mountain Climbing Association in Quito draws members from Guayaquil. See also Sports—Quito.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:07 PM

Two beaches, Playas and Salinas, offer a cooler climate and swimming, fishing, and boating. Playas is 50 miles southwest of Guayaquil. A small, marginally adequate hotel is situated on a wide, sandy beach with a sheltered picnic ground. Furnished houses are sometimes available for rent on or near the beach. Beaches are generally uncrowded from May to December. The sun and the ocean currents should be treated with respect. The strong sunshine can cause severe sunburn even after short exposure. Ocean currents are very strong in the area and bathers must exercise caution.

Salinas, a resort town 85 miles west of Guayaquil, can be reached by asphalt road in 2 hours. There are more hotels, restaurants, and clubs than in Playas. Sailing and boating facilities are good. There are good beaches along the coast to the north, and a modern hotel nearby on the south coast. Salinas offers some of the best sport fishing (marlin and sailfish) in the world. Charters are expensive, but many fishing enthusiasts find it reasonable to go in groups. Good snorkeling is found among the coral formations in bays north of Salinas. The water is calm and generally warm, though small jellyfish can often be a problem.

Over a long weekend, an excursion to the mountains becomes practical and offers a pleasant change in both climate and culture. The nearest city in the Sierra is Cuenca, about a 4- or 5-hour drive from Guayaquil. The road is subject to occasional landslides (especially during the rainy season) and fog banks, but the trip offers spectacular views. The train trip to Quito was a widely known tourist attraction, but service was suspended in early 1983 due to floods, and it is uncertain if service will ever be resumed.

Entertainment Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:08 PM

Guayaquil has many movie theaters, some air-conditioned, that show fairly recent movies in English, with Spanish subtitles. Films considered for children, however, will be dubbed in Spanish without English subtitles. Concerts and plays are occasionally given by traveling American, Asian, or European groups. A Bi-National Center (Centro Ecuatoriano-Norteamericano), has an air-conditioned auditorium for public gatherings and cultural presentations, and a lending library with more than 4,000 volumes. Its small membership fee offers access to special programs, including movies, speakers, courses, and other activities. The Guayaquil Players, an English language amateur theater group, stages productions two or three times a year.

Small but good collections of archeological antiquities are located in the Casa de la Cultura, the Municipal Museum, and the Museum of the Banco del Pacifico. Several small art galleries have weekly exhibits of artists from Ecuador and other Latin American countries.

Guayaquil’s Independence Day, October 9th, is the most important local holiday. Indigenous festivals and markets can be seen all year by driving into the Andes. Horseraces with pari-mutuel betting are held on Sundays throughout the year. Polo games and soccer games are held in season. Several hotels operate casinos. Bullfights are held twice a year.

Social Activities Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:08 PM

About 2,500 U.S. citizens live in Guayaquil, providing a good opportunity for socializing with other Americans. The International Society has monthly dinners and several dances during the year. Numerous opportunities exist to meet and work with Ecuadorians and foreign nationals. The American-British Club is now the ABC International Women’s Club. The Consular Corps is open to all consuls and vice consuls for a $60 initiation fee and a $15 monthly fee. The club also has a women’s auxiliary. Many Ecuadorians have attended schools in the U.S. and welcome association with Americans. Guayaquileños are especially open and hospitable.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:09 PM

Most consular personnel are invited to some official functions. Dark business suit or appropriate dress is customary for such occasions, unless other attire is specified. For weddings after 10 p.m. (a traditional hour), tuxedos for men and formal dresses for women are customary.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:09 PM

After arrival, personnel will be able to get practical advice from other Consulate General employees on formal calls and social customs. The consul general may need about 500 cards for each tour; most other officers need about 200 each. The Chief of the Consular Section should bring 300–400 cards. Calling cards and invitation cards of an acceptable quality can be printed locally at reasonable prices. Engraved cards are not necessary.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:10 PM

Several important guidelines must be followed when shipping cars, unaccompanied baggage, household effects, and airfreight to Ecuador. All shipments should be declared as Diplomatic Shipments! Surface shipments should be consigned as follows:

UAB should be sent direct to Quito and marked on all four sides as follows:

Employee’s name
c/o American Embassy
Quito, Ecuador
Diplomatic Shipment

HHE and POVs should be sent via the Miami Despatch Agent, telephone: (305) 640–4574 and Fax number (305) 715–3502. The Despatch Agent will then forward the shipment to either the port facilities in Manta or Guayaquil, Ecuador. Any deviations from this other than for military personnel should be cleared through the GSO Office in Quito beforehand. HHE and POV shipments should be marked as follows:

Employee’s name
c/o American Embassy
Quito, Ecuador
Diplomatic Shipment

All shippers should waterproof shipments thoroughly. All HHE containers should be waterproofed as much as is practical, including lining the liftvan inside with plastic and building a protective tin or other waterproof roof on the top. Shipments insufficiently protected could suffer water damage, as liftvans can remain outdoors awaiting customs clearance.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:27 PM

Customs officials normally do not inspect the luggage of diplomats arriving in Ecuador. Your sponsor, who will help you with immigration and customs formalities, will meet you.

AirFreight and Household Effects

Free entry of “used HHE” is permitted during the first 120 days after arrival only. Employees planning to take deferred home leave some time after arrival at post should keep in mind the 120-day restriction on free importation of unaccompanied effects. Please check with the General Service Office (GSO) if you are planning to do a supplemental shipment.

Shipments of all sizes, including large steel or wooden liftvans, can be accommodated at all points of entry. Wooden boxes used for small shipments should be heavily lined with waterproof paper. Plastic and wooden liftvans should be plastic lined and have well-protected roofs in case the vans are left uncovered. For the same reason, individual items should also be wrapped in plastic. On very rare occasions shipments of household effects and of airfreight have suffered water damage while awaiting transshipment or customs clearance. Water damage has occurred because the Customs Service sometimes stores shipments outside the crowded Ecuadorian customs warehouses. At other times, damage appears to have occurred in other ports, including Miami.

Ecuadorian law and Mission regulations require that duty-free imports brought into Ecuador be for personal use only and that they not exceed reasonable needs. Whenever possible, packing lists and bills of lading should carry the heading “Used Household Effects.” Major appliances and electronic equipment, such as stereos, are regarded with particular sensitivity by Ecuadorian authorities. These items are limited by the Law on Diplomatic Privileges to one of each per family. Those receiving appliances on loan should not bring these items to post. To obtain a duty-free decree for employees’ personal possessions — both unaccompanied airfreight and household effects — the Mission must submit a request to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finances. Approval of this request now takes a couple of weeks, during which the effects remain in storage at Customs facilities. Ecuadorian regulations require that this request include complete details concerning the shipment, including consignor, consignee, weight, means of shipment, date of arrival, commercial invoices for any newly purchased items, and a detailed list of contents. You should hand-carry these original documents to post. The Foreign Ministry will not accept requests for clearance before your actual arrival in Ecuador.

In addition to the duty-free importation of used HHE for the employee’s initial settling in, the Ecuadorian Government grants a yearly importation allowance (“cupo”) to those Mission employees with diplomatic titles or their equivalents (in the case of USAID employees). The dollar value of allowable duty-free importation varies according to the employee’s rank and may be used to import items not brought as used household effects within the first 120 days at post. As of the date of this report, cupo allowances for the first 12 months at post are as indicated below.

Category Title/Rank 1st/2nd yr.Cupo

I Ambassador $13,500/6,000

II Accredited Charge d’Affaires, Military Attachés and Members of Military Missions with rank of General $11,925/5,250

III Counselors, Military Attachés, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Consuls General $10,350/4,500

IV First Secretaries, Majors, First Class Consuls $9,000/3,750

V Second Secretaries, Captains, Consuls $7,650/3,000

VI Third Secretaries, Civil, Commercial, Cultural and Press Attachés and other Specialists, Lieutenants, Second Lieutenants, Assistants to Military Attachés, and Vice Consuls $6,300/2,700

VII Foreign Assistants to Military Attachés ranking below a Second Lieutenant $5,400/1,800

For the second and each succeeding year, cupo allowances are approximately one-half of the dollar amounts listed above. Cupo may not be accumulated from year to year. The allowances are adjusted from time to time to allow for inflation.

Personnel who do not have cupo privileges must bring all belongings with their initial shipments of HHE or pay duty on items arriving more than 120 days after their entrance on duty. Duty can be more than 100% of CIF value (purchase price plus freight).

The AERA at the Embassy uses the cupo system to import food, liquor, and cigarettes. All American employees may join the AERA by depositing a refundable fee of $100 for single employees and $200 for families. Members with diplomatic cupo share part of their duty-free allowances with AERA, so that stock may be imported in their names.

Personal vehicles. The Government of Ecuador (GOE) currently permits employees to import two duty-free vehicles during their tour of duty. Third vehicles and above are taxed at a rate which is currently 47.5%. Please remember that most USG agencies only pay to ship one vehicle per employee. All vehicles imported duty-free must be within the dollar limits established by the GOE according to rank and title. Locally manufactured or assembled vehicles may be purchased in Quito, but they are not duty-free. This means you will have to pay the 12% value (I.V.A.) added tax on top of the regular price. Remember that locally purchased cars quite often lack many amenities that cars purchased in the U.S. normally have. Almost all makes and models can be easily serviced in Quito, but there may be a brief wait for parts. Unleaded gasoline is readily available in all but the most remote parts of Ecuador.

Currently, one or both of your duty-free vehicles may be sold without payment of duties after being in the country for 2 years, or after 6 months if the employee is transferred. High duties are charged on a prorated basis if the vehicle has been in-country for less than 2 years when sold. Each employee is allowed no more than two duty-free vehicles for their whole tour in Ecuador.

Ecuadorian law and Mission regulations require personnel to maintain third-party liability insurance for personal vehicles, and the Mission offers a group plan underwritten by a local firm. Comprehensive and collision insurance may be obtained locally, although at least two U.S. companies will provide policies that are valid in Ecuador.

If departing employees wish to sell their cars in country, they must obtain permission from the Foreign Ministry. The GSO will assist in this procedure.

As of the date of this report, the following duty-free allowances are in effect for the importation of vehicles for the use of Mission employees: (The categories below correspond to the same title/rank as given in the previous “cupo” table. This is the maximum price allowed per vehicle imported)


I No limit; may import three
II $36,000
III $33,400
IV $31,000
V $29,000
VI $27,000
VII $24,000

Note: The Foreign Ministry is currently reviewing an increase in the above limitations. Nondiplomatic personnel are accorded Category VII for the importation of personally owned vehicles on the basis of reciprocity between the U.S. and the Ecuadorian Governments.

Duty will be payable on any portion of a vehicle’s value that exceeds the duty-free allowance. Current duties are around 50%. Each incoming employee will be notified of the current value limitation in the travel message (TM-2) cable sent from post.

To complete the customs procedures for vehicle importation, the post must have an original bill of sale or a dealer’s invoice listing all options and giving the total value of the vehicle. This invoice, along with the certificate of origin and the ocean bill of lading, must be submitted to the authorities. If the U.S. Despatch Agent handles the shipment, he or she will obtain the certificate and the bill of lading, and forward them automatically to post. The bill of sale should be hand-carried to post, not sent with effects. The Ecuadorian authorities will not accept a title registration in lieu of the bill of sale.

Cars are often shipped unboxed and may be driven to Quito from Guayaquil by the employee, although most employees find it more convenient to have them delivered by truck. All easily removable parts, such as floor mats, cigarette lighters, and outside mirrors, should be sent in HHE to avoid pilferage. Surface shipment of vehicles from the U.S. takes about 2 weeks. Normally, vehicles can be cleared and delivered within 2 weeks after arrival in port.

When a U.S. Despatch Agent undertakes to ship a vehicle, full details about shipment (dates, countries, shipping companies involved, travel order number, and appropriation number) should be provided, and copies should be sent to the Embassy or to USAID, as appropriate. Employees should specify that vehicles be shipped and consigned to Guayaquil, not to Manta.

Passage Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:27 PM

American Airlines has daily direct flights to Quito and Guayaquil from Miami. Continental Airlines has daily flights from Houston and Newark. Some flights are nonstop and others may stop en route in Panama or Bogota. Bookings on all airlines should be made well in advance of travel. Personnel should have a valid passport and visa before arriving in country.

Immigration officials keep the international arrival card on file and return a carbon copy with the traveler’s passport. Since you will have to surrender this copy upon leaving Ecuador, staple it to the last page of your passport. If you lose it, you may face a delay of 24 hours or more in obtaining a duplicate.

Pets Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:27 PM

Pets are generally well accepted in Ecuador and relatively easy to bring into the country. Dogs and cats should have an up-to-date health certificate certified by your veterinarian. The certificate should include name of pet, age, sex, breed, color, and an up-to-date certification of rabies vaccination. You should carry these papers with you and make at least one copy to put in the animal’s cage. For any other type of animal, please contact the GSO. Please note that pets greatly limit the choices for temporary quarters upon arrival, since many of the better hotels do not allow pets.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:28 PM

The Chief of Mission and ONLY the Chief of Mission may authorize Mission employees to carry USG-issued weapons and/or authorize the importation or acquisition of personal firearms (rifles, shotguns, handguns, and airguns). Because the possession, bearing or use of firearms in Ecuador involves serious personal, diplomatic, and legal responsibilities and dangers, there are rules and restrictions that apply to all those who wish to bring weapons to Ecuador. It is the responsibility of EACH employee to contact the Regional Security Office (RSO) for information prior to shipping any weapon to Ecuador.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:28 PM

Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar as its national currency in 2000. It mints coins in the same denominations found in the U.S. (These coins are not legal tender in the U.S.) U.S.-minted coins are also accepted in Ecuador.

The metric system is used for both weights and measures, although food is often measured in “libras” (pounds). The ounce and the yard may be used in commerce. In hardware stores, gauges of pipes and fittings are often listed in U.S. measurements, as well as metric.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:29 PM

Ecuador has a direct sales tax (I.V.A.) of 12% that is collected on sales of goods and services, except for food items. Employees are currently reimbursed for VAT payments only for single purchases over $300. A 12% service charge (tip) is included on most restaurant bills, along with the direct sales tax of 10%. It is not necessary to tip further, although an extra 5% is always appreciated when service has been excellent.

An airport departure fee of U.S. $25 is charged to all persons leaving Ecuador from Quito. The tax for passengers leaving from Guayaquil is $10. A tax of 12% is charged on the purchase of airline tickets when travel originates in Ecuador.

There are no currency controls in Ecuador. All personnel should maintain accounts in U.S. banks. Banco de Guayaquil maintain banking services in the Chancery, including cashing of personal checks and issuance of cashier’s checks. ATMs exist in cities but are neither ubiquitous nor always safe to use. MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Diner’s Club credit cards are honored in most shops and restaurants.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:33 PM

These titles are provided as a general introduction to the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

General Interest
Alban, Veronica, with photographs by Jean Claude Constant. Los Andes Ecuatorianos. Macalban Editores: Guayaquil, 1976. Parallel English text.

American University Foreign Area Studies. Area Handbook for Ecuador. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C. 1976. Gives general background and covers all areas.

Anhalzer, Jorge. Through the Andes of Ecuador. Ed. Campo Abierto: Quito, 1983. Mountaineering and snowcapped peaks with beautiful photographs.

Blanksten, George I. Ecuador: Constitution and Caudillos. Russell and Russell: New York, 1964. A detailed study of Ecuadorian Government and politics.

Bork, Albert William, and George Maier. Historical Dictionary of Ecuador. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1973. A panoramic view of the country from pre-Colombian days with the general political and social organization, the principal zones of archeological investigation, and similar matters of general interest presented in a dictionary format with concise informative paragraphs.

Brooks, Rhoda and Earle. The Barrios of Manta. New American Library: New York, 1965. Written by and about Peace Corps volunteers and conditions under which they worked in an Ecuadorian city.

Colloredo-Mansfield, Rudi. The Native Leisure Class: Consumption and Cultural Creativity in the Andes. University of Chicago Press, 1999. A study of the thriving Otavaleno ethnic group.

Corral, Pablo and Loup Langton. Discovering Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Imprenta Mariscal, 1994. An excellent photographic overview of the country produced by 38 international photographers.

Crowder, Nicholas B. Culture Shock!: Ecuador. Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company, 2002. Highly rated new series that seeks to lay the groundwork for understanding the history, culture, and traditions of the country.

Cueva, Juan. Ecuador. Ediciones Libri Mundi: Quito, 1980. Color photographs with captions in Spanish, French, English, and German.

Elliot, Elizabeth. The Savage, My Kinsman. Harper and Brothers: New York, 1961. Deals with the primitive Auca tribe in the Oriente.

Fitch, John S. The Military Coup d’Etat as a Political Process: Ecuador1966. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 1977. General consideration of factors leading to coups and specific details on post-war Ecuadorian politics.

Handelsman, Michael. Culture and Customs of Ecuador. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. Written by a U.S. Fulbright scholar.

Hassaurek, Fredrick. Four Years Among the Ecuadorians. Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, 1967. Edited from the 1867 edition written by an American Consul in Quito: an interesting commentary on Ecuador 100 years ago.

Hickman, John. The Enchanted Islands: The Galapagos Discovered. Anthony Nelson Ltd.: England 1985. History and Science with beautiful photographs.

Hurtado, Osvaldo. The Political Power in Ecuador. 2nd English ed. Westview Press: Boulder, 1985. Analysis is made by Dr. Hurtado before his election to the vice presidency in 1979 and his ascension to the presidency of Ecuador in 1981. This edition contains updated information on the period since 1979.

Inter-American Development Bank. Economic and Social Progress in Latin America. Washington, D.C., 1976.

Linke, Lilo. Ecuador. Country of Contrasts. Third edition. Royal Institute of International Affairs: London, 1960. A broad study of Ecuador and an excellent basic reference.

MacDonald, Theodor J. Ethnicity and Culture Amidst New “Neighbors”: The Runa of Ecuador’s Amazon Region. Allyn & Bacon, 1998. One of the few studies of an Ecuadorian Amazon tribe.

Martz, John D. Ecuador: Conflicting Political Culture and the Quest for Progress. Allyn and Bacon: Boston, 1972. An overview of political developments in the contemporary period.

Meggers, Betty. Ecuador. Thomas and Hudson: London, 1966. An archeological study of the country and its people.

Miller, Tom. The Panama Hat Trail. National Geographic Society, 2nd. Edition, 2001. Reprinted with limited financial assistance from the U.S. Embassy/Quito.

Oxandaberro, Roura. Ecuador: Art/Folklore and Landscape. Su Libreria: Quito, 1965.

Striffler, Steve. In the Shadows of State and Capital: The United Fruit Company, Popular Struggle and Agrarian Restructuring in Ecuador, 1900–1995. Duke University Press, 2002. Award winning study of the banana industry in Ecuador.

Thomsen, Moritz. Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. University of Washington Press: Seattle, 1969. An excellent book written about the author’s experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rio Verde, Ecuador.

Weismantel, Mary J. Food, Gender and Poverty in the Ecuadorian Andes. Waveland Press, 2001. A highly rated anthropological monograph by an author of several such works on Ecuadorian tribes/ethnic groups.

Zendegui, Guillermo de, ed. Image of Ecuador. Organization of American States: Washington, D.C., September: 1972. A well-written, 24-page summary of Ecuador and its people.

General-In Spanish
Ayala, Enrique. Resumen de la Historic del Ecuador. Corporation Editora National, 1995. A good overview of Ecuador’s history in Spanish.

Bustamante, Edgar, ed. Maravilloso Ecuador. Circulo de Lectores: Quito. 1978. Essays by contemporary Ecuadorian writers, covering the country region by region. Color photographs.

Histografia Ecuatoriana. Banco Central del Ecuador, Corporaci6n Editora National: Quito, 1985.

Mills, Nick. Crisis, Conflicto y Consenso: Ecuador, 1979–84. Corporation Editora National; Quito, 1984. An analysis of political relationship during the administrations of Jaime Roldos and Osvaldo Hurtado.

Porras, Pedro. Arqueologia del Ecuador 3d ed. Pontificia Universidac Catolica del Ecuador: Quito, 1984 The most up-to-date guide to archaeological finds in Ecuador.

Reyes, Oscar. Breve Historic General de Ecuador. 3 vols. 14th ed. Quito 1981. A general but not brief, history of the country.

Salvat, Juan, and Eduardo Crespo, ed. Arte Contemporaneo de Ecuador, and Arte Precolombino de Ecuador. Salvat Editores Ecuatoriana S.A: Quito, 1977. Amply illustrated text treating painting, sculpture, and handicrafts.

Guide Books/Travel
Brooks, John, ed. The South American Handbook. Trade and Travel Publications: England. Handy guide to all Latin American countries. Updated annually and fun to read.

Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia: The Backpacker’s Manual. Bradt Publications, 2000.

Eichler, Arthur. Ecuador: A Land, A People, A Culture. Ediciones Libri Mundi: Quito, 1982. A small general guidebook.

Gartelmann, K.D. Ecuador. Imprenta Mariscal: Quito, 1975; rev. ed., 1979. Photographs. Text in Spanish, English, and German.

Insight Guide to Ecuador. APA Productions, 1998.

Kunstaettar, Robert. Trekking in Ecuador. Mountaineers Books, 2002. Newly released book by a husband and wife team on hikes in Ecuador.

Let’s Go Ecuador and the Galapagos, 2001.

Lonely Planet Ecuador and the Galapagos, 2001.

Rachowiecki, Rob. Climbing and Hiking in Ecuador. Bradt Publications, 1998. Highly rated.

Rough Guide to Ecuador. Rough Guides, 2000. Very highly rated.

Youman, Becky. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands Guide. Open Road Publications, 2000. Highly rated.

Field Guides (all very highly rated, except as noted)
Bejar, Ezra. Herbs of Southern Ecuador: A Field Guide to the Medicinal Plants of Trilcabamba. LH Press, 2002.

Emmons, Louise H. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide. University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Gentry, Alwy. A Field Guide to the Families and Genera of Woody Plants in Northwest South America. Conservation International, 1996.

Pearson, David L. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: The Ecotravellers’ Wildlife Guide. Academic Press, 1999. This work received mixed reviews, with some hailing it as a good introductory work on conservation of the Galapagos, now a World Heritage site, and others finding it not comprehensive enough.

Ridgley, Robert S. The Birds of Ecuador: A Field Guide. Comstock Press Associates, 2001.

Also: Ecuador Atlas Map, Treaty Oak Publishers, March, 2001.

Ecuador Guide Map, Treaty Oak, 2000. (by Nelson Gaomez).

Local Holidays Last Updated: 1/13/2004 2:38 PM

The following days have been designated public holidays by the Government of Ecuador:

January 1 New Year’s Day
March/April Good Friday[MGI][MG2]
May 1 Labor Day
May 24 Battle of Pichiricha
July 25 Founding of Guayaquil (Guayaquil only)
August 10 Independence Day
October 9 Independence of Guayaquil
November 2 All Souls Day
November 3 Independence of Cuenca
December 6 Founding of Quito (Quito only)
December 25 Christmas Day

Holy Thursday, Carnival days (Monday and Tuesday) December 24 and December 31 are not official holidays in Ecuador. However, since these holidays are customarily observed each year by Government Decree, the Ambassador usually designates these days also as holidays for U.S. Government personnel.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
Share |