What is the terrain and geography like in Ecuador?
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 65°F to 90°F. Temperatures in the Sierra are generally cool, ranging from 35°F to 75°F. Due to the altitude and thin air, temperature in direct sunlight can reach 85°F at midday. In the evenings it can range from pleasantly cool to very chilly. The tallest mountains are always snowcapped, but it never snows in the inhabited altitudes, although it hails occasionally. During the Sierra dry season, from June through September, gusty winds are common.
In Quito the temperature pattern rarely changes from day to day or month to month. Mornings are cool and crisp, and midday is agreeably warm, unless skies are overcast. Fog and mist may occur in the mornings or evenings as low-lying clouds spill over the sides of the valley. Since Quito is such a short distance from the Equator, sunrise and sunset vary only slightly from 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Average annual rainfall in Quito is 50 inches, with 43 inches falling from October through May, and 7 inches from June through September. Relative humidity averages 75%. Occasional tremors are registered in the area; these may or may not be perceptible to residents. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are infrequent but do remain a possibility.