The Andes mountains were formed in the Mesozoic era as a result
of over a million years of the collision of two tectonic plates. The
lighter Nazca plate in the Pacific ocean converged under the heavier
American Plate in a geological process known as subduction. All of
Ecuador's major peaks are stratovolcanoes. These type of volcanoes
are a product of subduction. Stratovolcanoes are known to have sudden
and violent eruptions with long periods of dormancy. The more dangerous
part of those eruptions are the combined flow of lava, mud and ice,
The Galapagos Islands are not considered to be part of the Ring
of Fire. Rather, these islands are the top of gigantic underwater
volcanoes that form over a "hot spot' where two tectonic plates
are seperating. These volcanoes are much younger than the Andes.
Language & Religion
The official languages of Ecuador are Spanish and the indigenous language,
Quechua. The importance of Quechua in Ecuador and in other Andean
countries such as Peru is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that
Microsoft is planning to release its popular Office software
in Quechua in 2006.
Ecuador's principal religion is Roman Catholicism.
Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of native belief-systems
as the indigenous people reclaim their identity and voice. Native
"religions" revere Pacha mama (Mother Earth) and
emphasize the harmonious coexistence with nature. Socially, indigenous
traditions value community over the individual (community-ism).
There are 13.2 million people living in Ecuador. The majority of the
population is mestizo (mixed blood) (65%), followed by Amerindians
(25%), black (3%), and Spanish and other ethnic groups (7%). Similar
to many developing countries, the majority of Ecuador's population
is under 25. The population growth rate is currently estimated at
The most populous city in Ecuador is the port city of Guayaquil
with a population of 2.5 million. Quito is the second most populous
with 1.5 million people.