Terrain shapes and bedrock
As a topographic backbone, the Andes mountain ranges
extend throughout Ecuador in the north-south direction. The
narrower southern part of the country is completely met by
the mountains, while the middle and northern parts have
broad lowland areas in both the west and the east.
North of the deeply invading Guayaquil Bay in the south,
with the island of Puná, stretches the coastal plain,
La Costa, in the form of a 160–190 km wide topographic
region, which is lower than 500 m above sea level. The
lowland is mostly built up of young sedimentary rocks,
covered by a fertile soil layer. The drainage of the area is
mainly south to the Guayas basin, which is flooded by the
Daule and Babahojo rivers. In the northern lowlands
Esmeralda's is the largest river.
The high and fairly narrow mountain region, La
Sierra, is bounded by the low areas to the west and east
respectively by the two main chains of the Andes, the West
and East Cordillera. About thirty peaks are volcanoes,
including the world's highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, at
5,897 m above sea level. Other high peaks are the
extinguished volcano Chimborazo (6,310m above sea level),
Cayambe (5,790m above sea level), Antisana (5,704m above sea
level), Sangay (5,230m above sea level) and Altar (5,266m
asl). Through transverse mountain ridges of volcanic origin,
the 625 km long and 70 km wide high plateau is divided into
ten intermittent streams, hoyas. They are located
at an altitude of 1,800–2,600 m above sea level. and houses
the greater part of Ecuador's highland population.
COUNTRYAAH, a third landform region in Ecuador, as well as the
largest, is located in the northeast and forms part of the
upper Amazon basin, El Oriente. Foothills from the
mountain range divide this forested, sparsely populated area
into different parts. Most of Ecuador's rivers are located
here, flow east to the Amazon River and are the most
navigable. Most important is Napo, with the tributaries Coca
and Aguarico, which flows through a part of Peru, where it
is then united with the Amazon River.
Despite Ecuador's location at the equator, the climate is
not uniformly tropical, as it is strongly influenced by the
country's varying altitude conditions and by the cold,
northbound Humboldt stream. The coastal plain has a hot
climate, where the temperature shows little annual
variation. Inland the temperatures are raised and are
between 23 °C and 25 °C. The precipitation falls during
January to May and amounts to 2,000 mm per year, while the
coastal distance to the farthest south only receives 275 mm
In the mountain region, the climate varies from tropical
in some low basin areas to arctic with constant snow in the
highest parts. The rainfall here falls from October to May
and amounts to between 300 and 1,500 mm per year. Some areas
of the mountainous regions have an extremely pleasant and
healthy climate with temperatures during the year of 17-20 °C.
The eastern lowland area is the warmest and humid in all
of Ecuador. The average temperature is 23–27 °C, and the
rainfall is 5 900 mm per year. The humidity there can rise
to 90% over several months.
Plant-and animal life
The country is very rich in both plants and animals.
There are 18,000–20,000 species of vascular plants, about
1,450 species of birds (including winterers and occasional
visitors), probably over 150 species of each amphibian, and
in particular a very species-rich fish and insect fauna.
In the coastal (up to 50–100 km from the sea) areas from
2 ° south latitude to the Peruvian border, vegetation is
mostly desert or savanna. Here, scattered bushes or small
trees dominate the genera of acacias, Cordia,
Capparis, Erythrina, Croton and
others. and some grass. Many of the trees on the savannah
belong to the family monkey plants, e.g. Ceiʹba
trischistaʹndra. Around estuaries and protected bays
are mangrove forests with the species Rhizophora mangleas
dominant trees. East of the dry area, a belt of lush monsoon
forests takes place, where the trees cut their leaves during
the dry season. Significant parts are woody during the rainy
season. In recent decades, at least the drier forests have
been almost completely destroyed and cultivated.
In northern Ecuador, west of the Andes and throughout the
lowland area east of the Andes, the vegetation is tropical
rainforest. The richness of the species is very large. The
trees mainly belong to the families pea plants, mulberries,
stock plants, nutmeg plants and mahogany plants.
Furthermore, there are plenty of palm trees, Heliconia
species, winding cold plants and epiphytic pineapple plants.
Here the fauna is also the richest. One encounters on the
skull monkey, capuchin monkeys, mantle monkey (Alouaʹtta
palliaʹta), spider monkeys, tamarins, jaguars,
ocelot, lowland tapestries, sloths, navel pigs, giant chicks
and kapybara. Eye-catching birds include toucans,
hummingbirds, kingfishers, macaws and other parrots. The
amphibian fauna and fauna are rich and include. poison
frogs, deciduous frogs, the flat, aquatic frog (Piʹpa
piʹpa), which hatches the eggs in skin pockets on the
back, as well as American land snakes, many snakes, boa
worms and two species of caiman.
On the slopes on either side of the Andes, between about
700 and 2,500 meters above, a low-mounted rainforest with
many epiphytic pineapple plants, orchids, ferns and mosses.
Between about 2,500 and 3,400 meters above sea level. there
are cloud forests, where the tree's branches are covered
with mosses, ferns and leafy plants. There are also plenty
of tree worms growing here. In the mountain forests there
are, among other things, glasses bear, mountain snare bear
and mountain tapestry.
On the lower plateaus of the Andes, especially between
2,000 and 3,000 m above sea level, there was originally a
sparse forest or shrub vegetation. It has long been largely
cultivated or replaced during the 19th century with
eucalyptus (ie the species Eucalyptus globulus)
from Australia. On the plateaus around 3,400-4,000 m above
sea level. you will find so-called paramos, open fields
dominated by tough grasses of the genus Pipes (Calamagrostis),
spring grass (Stipa) and swings (Festuca).
There are also some species of puyas, which have flowers in
beautiful ears. These areas are heavily influenced by man,
so the populations of the mountain animals found here are
now much reduced. Between 4,000 and 4,500 meters above sea
level. grow dwarf bushes and pillow-shaped plants. Above,
the vegetation is desert with only a few veneerogams.
See also the Galápagos Islands.
In 2010, there were 24 national parks in Ecuador. The
Galápagos Islands were mostly a national park (6,937 km2),
and the waters around the islands were marine reserve.
On the mainland, the rainforest area of Yasuní was the
largest with 9 820 km2. However, this national
park, which has the world's largest registered biodiversity,
is threatened by oil recovery plans. Several of the
country's high mountains are protected. Cotopaxi (National
Park) and Chimborazo (Fauna Reserve). Among the rainforest
areas that are protected can be mentioned Cuyabeno and a
larger area around Rio Napo.