Quito, Ecuador: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
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Quito is the capital of Ecuador and is the highest official capital city in the world since it is located at a height of 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha which is an active strato volcano in the Andes mountains. Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador, with Guayaquil being the first one.
Quito is the first historic site to be declared as World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978. The historic centers in Quito have been well maintained and preserved with the least possible alterations. The city of Quito is within 1 kilometer distance from the equator with its central square being located at a distance of approximately 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of the equator.
Tourists need to be careful about pick-pocketing, purse snatching, robbery, bag slashing and hotel room theft which are the most common crimes against U.S. citizens in Quito.
Quito is the largest contributor to the national GDP and the second highest in terms of per capita income. Quito is the most important economic region with the highest level of tax collection in Ecuador.
The headquarters of TAME which is one of the airlines in Ecuador is based in Quito.
Petroecuador which is the largest company in Ecuador and one of the largest in Latin America is also headquartered in Quito.
Apart from that, the headquarters and regional offices of several national and international financial institutions, oil corporations and international businesses are also located in Quito. This makes Quito a world class business city.
Quito is a Beta city and an important world class metropolis.
Quito is governed by a mayor and a 15-member city council. The main divisions of Ecuador which are called cantons are further subdivided into urban and rural parishes in Ecuador depending on their proximity to the main seat in the canton. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quito divides the city into 167 ecclesiastical parishes, which are grouped into 17 zones.
Quito has a fairly cool climate all year round due to its high altitude and its closeness to the equator, The summer season lasts for 4 months from June to September and it is usually dry. The winter season lasts for 8 months October to May. It is usually wet during the winter and there is year round precipitation, depending on the location.
Because of its high altitude, Quito receives maximum solar radiation as compared to the rest of the world which sometimes reaches 24 as per the UV Index.
The origins of Quito date back to the first millennium. Quito was initially inhabited by the Quitu tribe and gradually, over a period of time, it developed into a commercial center. Prior to the development, the Quitus were conquered by the Caras tribe and was ruled by kings who were called shyris. Later, it became part of the Incan Empire after the Caras rulers lost the battle against Túpac Inca who was the son of the Incan Emperor. For some time, Quito was also a part of the Spanish colonies after the Spanish invasion. El Belén church, San Francisco Convent as well as several other churches and convents were constructed during the colonial period. The Spanish converted the inhabitants and made them follow Roman Catholicism. The residents were also forced to serve as laborers for the construction work. This continued until Quito finally became an independent city at the end of the freedom movement.
Since its freedom, the city has worked on development which can be seen in the eco friendly buses and the Mariscal Sucre International Airport that has replaced the old airport. The new airport is located at a 45 minutes distance from central Quito and bus lines of the Metrobus (Ecovia) traverse the city from the north to the south. The roads and avenues have been significantly improved to cater to the heavy flow of traffic. A new subway system is currently under construction.
Quito is built on a long plateau and is located in the northern highlands of Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin. The valley of the Guayllabamba River is flanked by volcanoes, some of which are snow-capped. The closest volcano is Pichincha which looms over the western side of of Quito making it the only capital in the world that faces the risk of damage due to an active volcano. Wawa Pichincha is the active volcano which is a part of the various summits of Pichincha volcano.
However activity in other nearby volcanoes can also affect the city as in the case of an eruption in the volcano Reventador in November 2002, when the city was showered with a layer of fine ash particles that accumulated to form a heap of several centimeters.
Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Antisana and Cayambe are some volcanoes towards the east of Quito, on the Central (Royal) Cordillera surrounding the Guayllabamba valley. Apart from Pichincha, Illiniza, Atacazo, and Pululahua (which has the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve) are some of the volcanoes that are in the Western Cordillera, towards the west of the Guayllabamba valley.
Topographically Quito is divided into three broad zones that are separated by hills:
The central zone houses the old colonial city.
The southern zone is mainly industrial and also serves as a working-class residential area.
The northern zone which is more developed and modernized has high-rise buildings, shopping centers, the financial district and upper-class residential areas as well as some working-class housing areas.
Quito has seven renowned football clubs in Ecuador of which the top three clubs namely, LDU Quito, El Nacional and Deportivo Quito have won a number of national championships.
The professional teams in the city are:
- América de Quito
- Deportivo Quito
- El Nacional
- LDU Quito
- Universidad Católica