Squeezed between Colombia in the north and Peru in the south, Ecuador is named for its location on the Equator. It has some of the highest and most active volcanoes in the world; steamy Amazon jungles in the east; a Pacific coast dotted with fishing villages and beach resorts; and, out to sea, the jewel in the country’s crown—the fabled Galápagos Islands.
Its multiethnic population reflects a unique blend of cultures, from traditionally dressed mountain peoples whose ancestors inhabited their highland villages before the arrival of the Incas to the Afro–Ecuadorians of Esmeraldas, and the tribal peoples of the Amazonian rainforest.
Ecuadorians are proud, friendly, hospitable, and hardworking, but to understand the culture in any depth you need to know the complex historical divisions between the highlands and the coast, and the rigid class and racial discrimination that has dominated the country’s history.
Culture Smart! Ecuador takes you beyond the usual descriptions of where to go and digs deeply into the heart of this multilayered, multiethnic nation to provide you with an insider’s view of the people, the history, the food, the culture, and an understanding of Ecuadorian social and business life.
Tipping at upscale eateries which usually add a 10 percent service charge is unnecessary. At less formal places however, most wait staff are low earners, so if you’ve had good service you can show your appreciation in the form of a dollar or two. Tip the person directly; don’t leave money on the table.