I loved my experience. Ecuador was amazing. The classes and internship helped me realize that international affairs is a career I will find most rewarding. Everyone at KEI helped me come closer to achieving my future goals. Claudia (KEI Onsite Director) was wonderful, like a mom. She made me feel at home. If anything were to happen, I had someone to call for assistance.
Guayaquil was founded in 1538 by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana.
However, the city traces its origin even further as an indigenous village of the Incas.
Today, Guayaquil serves as the financial, manufacturing and commercial center of Ecuador.
In recent years, tourism has been emerging as a prominent industry, expediting the restoration of cultural and ecological sites.
Despite its size, the city feels at ease with its natural surroundings.
Guayaquil is uniquely positioned at the crossroads of mangrove swamp, tropical dry forest, desert and marine ecosystems.
With easy access to tropical beaches, the Amazon basin and other ecological destinations, Guayaquil is destined to become one of the top tourist destinations in Latin America.
Republic of Ecuador
The Republic of Ecuador is characterized by geographic and cultural diversity.
Bordered by Colombia, Peru and Pacific Ocean, the country spans the Northern and Southern hemispheres with the equator running through the center.
The richness of its environment and people make Ecuador an ideal country to study in Latin America.
Ecuador is one of the megadiverse countries in the world with four geographic regions:
The coast in the western part of the country.
Andes mountain range.
The Amazon rainforest areas in the eastern part of the country.
Galapagos Islands, some 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) west of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean.
Ecuador has 1600 species of birds, 25,000 species of plants, 106 endemic species of reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly.
The Galapagos Islands are well known as a region of distinct fauna, famous as the place of birth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ecuador's population is ethnically diverse.
The largest ethnic group (62%) is the Mestizos, who are the mixed descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous Indians.
Amerindians account for 25%; criollos, the unmixed descendants of early Spanish colonists, account for about 10%; and the Afro-Ecuadorian community, including Mulattos and zambos, make up 5% of the population.
The majority of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic. Mormon, Protestant, Muslim and Jewish are also represented. In rural areas, Indigenous beliefs and Christianity are sometimes syncretized.
Evidence of human cultures in Ecuador exists from 3500 B.C. Many civilizations rose throughout Ecuador, eventually being integrated in the Inca Empire.
When the Spanish conquistadors, under Francisco Pizarro, arrived in 1531 the indigenous population was decimated by disease and war.
It was not until October 9, 1820 that Guayaquil became the first city in Ecuador to gain its independence from Spain.
On May 24, 1822 (the Glorious May Revolution) the rest of Ecuador gained its independence and joined Simon Bolívar's Republic of Gran Colombia. Eight years later, in 1830, Ecuador became an independent nation.