Why study Spanish in Ecuador?
If you are a nature and a culture lover, Ecuador is possibly the best option for your Spanish program in South America! Ecuador is situated in the northwest of South America and is considered to be the most geographically diverse country in the world. Ecuador is home to stunning flora and fauna, including the largest otter species (the Giant Otter) and the world-famous Galapagos Tortoise. Furthermore, Ecuador is a melting pot of cultures, values and ethnicities. Throughout the country, there are remnants of its long history such as Indian markets, colonial buildings and Inca ruins. All in all, Ecuador is a megadiverse country with friendly inhabitants who speak Spanish clear, calm and easy – the perfect place for learning Spanish and travelling.
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Highlights of Ecuador
QuitoThe capital city is one of the most beautiful and oldest cities in South America. Quito lies inland at 2850 meters above the sea level, framed by the majestic peaks of the Andes Mountains and embedded in a beautiful valley.
CuencaSituated high up in the Sierra, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers an abundance of museums based in old colonial buildings.
MontanitaThis laid back surf town attracts people from all over the world. Experience a great vibe with street performers and artisans and possibly the best nightlife and surfing opportunities in Ecuador.
Galapagos IslandsWell known for its unique wildlife and beautiful nature, the Galapagos Archipelago is undoubtedly the most famous tourist attraction of Ecuador, an absolute bucket list destination.
OtavaloA visit to Otavalo is not to be missed when studying Spanish in Ecuador, not least due to its delightful market and the nearby Peguche waterfall.
BañosBanos is a hotspot for adventure lovers, a perfect destination for rafting, horse riding, rappelling, mountain biking, paragliding, and bungee jumping beside the looming backdrop of the Tungurahua Volcano.
The Spanish language in Ecuador
Spanish is the official language in Ecuador - although 2 million people speak the native language Quichua. Amazonian Spanish in Ecuador is strongly influenced by the indigenous languages of the region, while Ecuadorian Andean Spanish is similar to the Spanish spoken in Peru and Bolivia. Voseo (the substitution of tú for vos) is common in informal conversations. In coastal regions of Ecuador, there is a lot of Ceceo; you will hear people pronouncing the letters ‘s’ and ‘z’ like ‘th’, as in the English word ‘thanks’.
Ecuador is a great place to learn Spanish because spoken Spanish is very clear and easy to understand. Especially Quito and Cuenca are seen as excellent places to learn Spanish. Common expressions and slang words in Ecuador include Vamos de chupa (let’s go partying /drinking) and ¡Qué huevada! (what a load of nonsense!).
Food and drinks from Ecuador
The food in Ecuador varies with the location, although in general a typical Ecuadorian meal is usually composed of vegetables, rice, potatoes and meat. In the highlands, a range of meats are available including pork, chicken, or “cuy” (guinea pig) and are generally served with potato or rice. It is common for street vendors to sell roast pig (“hornado”) and potatoes. On the coastal lowlands, seafood is abundant, including prawns, shrimp and lobster. There is also a range of fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown on the coastal plains. “Fanesca” is a local soup made from 12 different types of beans including lima beans, lupini beans, green beans, etc. and is usually served with seafood and rice. Typical Ecuadorian drinks include Canelazo, chicha morada, chicha de pina and horchata tea.
Useful Information for Ecuador
MoneyThe official currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar – the bills and coins are the same as in the US. It is recommended to take about USD$100 with you in cash and withdraw money with your bank card once in Ecuador. Check with your bank that all your (debit and credit) cards work in Ecuador and make sure you know what your daily limit is. Withdrawing money is not a problem in most of the bigger cities in Ecuador (Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Baños, Otavalo). Keep in mind that most shops and restaurants will not accept bills over USD$20, so it is worth having small currency denominations on you.
WeatherEcuador is a tropical country with the equator running through it. Therefore the weather is generally warm all year round with only two seasons: the wet season from December to May, and the dry season from May to October. The temperature in the Andes region depends on the altitude. Generally, the higher the altitude, the colder it gets. In Quito, the weather can change quickly as the altitude of 2,800m can cause drastic shifts. It is possible to wake up to a bright blue sky with a burning sun, have a hailstorm in the afternoon and finally a fresh autumn breeze in the evening. If you plan to travel to the Amazon basin, choose the dry season! It can still rain, but usually just for a couple of hours. The weather in the Galapagos varies between warm and very warm; the coldest months of the year here are July and August.
What to bringBefore starting packing for your Spanish course in Ecuador, consider which regions of Ecuador you will visit, as each part of the country has a different climate. However, wherever you go, a good sunscreen is always essential. For the Andes, be prepared for cold nights and cold rain, so pack plenty of warm clothing. If you are heading to the Ecuadorian jungle, do not forget to take several layers of quick-drying clothing, a light raincoat, and lots of insect repellent. For Galapagos Islands, your swimsuit and beach towels are an absolute must!
Learn more about Ecuador
as a destination to learn Spanish
The distribution of incomes in Ecuador is known to be unfair. In the rural areas of Ecuador, about 60% of the population lives in poverty and has an average income of $200 a month. Many of the native people are subsistence farmers and only grow enough food for their family. Despite the struggle for survival for this big part of the population, Ecuadorians are known to be very friendly, generous and open. Ecuadorians are very proud of their country and independence. There is a friendly rivalry between the different regions, which is most obvious between the cities of Quito (in the mountains) and Guayaquil (on the coast). The national sport of Ecuador is football (soccer). The national league games are played every weekend, and when the national team plays the whole country practically comes to a standstill. Volleyball and basketball are also popular sports.
Ecuador lies in the northwestern corner of South America, bordered by Colombia and Peru. It is the smallest country in South America, but one of the most diverse countries in the world. It has four main geographic regions: the Costa; the Sierra; the Oriente (Amazon) and the Galápagos Islands. The coast of Ecuador is filled with banana, cacao and coffee plantations. It borders the Pacific Ocean to the west and rises to the foothills of the Andes Mountains to the east. In the highlands (Sierra), you will find volcanoes and mountains. The tropical part of Ecuador is situated in the jungle or “Oriente” and is rich in oil. It contains beautiful rainforests and rivers and is home to many of the indigenous population that resides in Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands are located 1000 kilometres off of the coast.
Ecuador is one of the most diverse areas of the world and therefore, a nature lover’s paradise. There are 25,000 plant species, 300 mammal species and over 1,600 known bird species. Hummingbird populations are abundant. The most diverse of the mammal species are bats: more than 100 different species all over Ecuador. Monkeys are also very common in Ecuador. In the lowlands, there are many deer and rabbits, while llamas and vicuña live in the Andes. There are over thirty protected areas in Ecuador, including national parks, national ecological reserves, national wildlife refuges and national biological reserves. Undoubtedly the most famous wildlife destination in Ecuador is the Galápagos Islands. These 18 islands are home to the most amazing creatures, including the Galápagos tortoise, Galápagos penguin, blue-footed booby, and iguanas. Here, Charles Darwin noticed the diversity of species and began to study evolution.
The History of Ecuador extends over 9,000 years. During this time, a variety of cultures and territories influenced in what has become the Republic of Ecuador. Before Ecuador became a Spanish colony, it was part of the Inca-empire, which covered both Ecuador and Peru. When the Spanish conquerors were about to take up Quito, Inca general Rumiñahui destroyed the city and escaped with the remaining Inca-population. The Spanish conquered Quito easily, and for three hundred years, they controlled Ecuador. In 1830 Ecuador became an independent republic. In the late 19th/early 20th century, Ecuador's economy flourished. For most of the 21st century, Ecuador was a ‘banana republic,’ with bananas being the country’s single most important export product. When oil was discovered in 1967, it soon became Ecuador's main export. However, in the 1980s, the price of oil fell dramatically, and Ecuador was gripped by recession. Nowadays, the population of Ecuador is 16 million. The economy is growing, although it is still heavily dependent on the oil industry.
Almost all people in Ecuador has a mixed-race background, which has resulted in a huge cultural diversity and unique customs and traditions across the whole country. About 25 per cent of the population belongs to indigenous or native cultures, and the remainder is of mixed ethnicity; mostly a combination of indigenous and Spanish blood. The majority of the Ecuadorians are Catholics. In the rural parts of Ecuador, indigenous beliefs and Catholicism are sometimes mixed. Most festivals and annual parades are based on religious celebrations, many incorporating a mixture of rites and icons.
Ecuadorian culture is the result of many influences, including indigenous groups and Spanish colonialism. These influences show up in the music, architecture, literature and the visual arts. Indigenous artwork can be found in markets. It mostly consists of tapestries and clothing, but you will also see jewellery, woodcarvings and leatherwork. The Panama hat is the most notable indigenous handicraft in Ecuador and was originally made by indigenous groups in the 16th century using native plants. People across the country use those hats. The preferred music among the locals in Ecuador is Cumbia. It is played everywhere, all day long. Salsa is also popular, as well as Marimba music. Traditional Andean music is characterized by the extensive use of flutes and percussion. The best place to hear traditional Andean music is at local folk-music venues called peñas.