|Preface Last Updated: 1/13/2004
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
Unit No.– (or Section)
APO AA 34039
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
observing and reporting military developments of interest to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
c/o American Embassy
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
c/o American Embassy
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
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)
CATEGORY POV LIMITATION
I No limit; may import three
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
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
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
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
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.
Alban, Veronica, with photographs by Jean Claude Constant. Los Andes
Ecuatorianos. Macalban Editores: Guayaquil, 1976. Parallel English
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
Ayala, Enrique. Resumen de la Historic del Ecuador. Corporation
Editora National, 1995. A good overview of Ecuador’s history in
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
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.
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
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
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.