The cobblestoned streets of colonial Quito, capital of Ecuador, are a living museum of Latin American history. Ecuador’s diverse ecosystems — from the lush jungle, humid coastal zones, high Andean Sierra and world-heralded Galapagos Islands — are fascinating laboratories of ecological variety. Ethnic diversity abounds with the myriad native languages of the indigenous groups rolling off tongues in shared time with Spanish, English, German, and more.
Geography & Demographics
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a large, bustling metropolis just a few miles from the Mitad del Mundo, the Center of the World monument on the Equador. With its fair share of shops, restaurants, and nightlife, Quito is a central hub if you’re going to travel around other parts of the region. Another of Ecuador’s larger cities, Guayaquil, has a thriving riverfront and interesting sights like the Parque de las Iguanas, a small city park in the middle of a busy town square that has a large and friendly population of wild iguanas.
Things to Do
Beyond keeping your brain busy with Ecuador's innovative study programs, both on the mainland and in the Galapagos, your body and soul will never be bored in this country. Many undeclared majors dedicate themselves to the study of salsa, ceviche, andinismo in the snow-peaked mountains, surf off white sandy beaches, or engage in impromptu primate studies, performed while howling back at monkeys in the jungle. For active history fanatics, treks along the Inca Trail often end up at the spectacular ruins of Ingapirca, an ancient Inca palace and temple site.
Studying in Ecuador
If you choose to study abroad in Ecuador, you will enter both an eye-opening and mind-blowing classroom as the entire country becomes your learning platform. Many anthropological and international relations majors are drawn to Ecuador’s thriving scene of social and political action. There is a plethora of biologically diverse ecosystems to explore in the ocean, mountains, and Amazon jungle, hence biology majors will have plenty to examine in Ecuador.
The stunning array of natural wonders in Ecuador lures geologists, biologists, botanists, and birders from all over the world. Everyone’s inner science nerd tends to come out in full force in the presence of such a tantalizing array of flora and fauna. After all, it was off the coast of Ecuador, on the Galapagos Islands, where the famed naturalist Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution after studying the incredible array of bird, plant, and reptile life on the islands.
For archaeology or history majors, Ecuador is a treasure trove of Inca ruins, including the tomb of the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, and Incan fortresses along the extinct Pambamarca volcano. The Lost Pyramid of Puñay, which predates the Inca, is the oldest and largest temple of its kind in the Americas, and the highest pyramid in the world.
Ecuador is a natural place to study Spanish. Living with a local family in a homestay is recommended. This type of immersion will accelerate your knowledge of Spanish, and spark your curiosity into learning more about this warm and welcoming culture — not to mention continuously clearing your plate and topping off the refills on fresh juice. Ecuador is also a renowned venue for studying Spanish, because its kind and patient population speaks clearly and slowly. You are less likely to twist your tongue while picking up the local lingo.