Ecuador Country Report
Public and private labour strikes are likely to increase in frequency in 2019 as a result of the government’s commitment to reduce the public wage bill by USD1 billion and pass reforms to make the labour market more flexible. However, trade unions are relatively weak and are prohibited from engaging in strikes in ‘strategic sectors’ including hydrocarbons, electricity, and telecommunications. Corruption remains a significant risk at all levels of the government and civil service, although bribery solicitation risks have reduced due to a high-profile government crackdown on such illicit practices has brought greater political attention to the issue.
There is an isolated risk of terrorism incidents along the Colombian border in 2019. Dissidents of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – considered criminals in Colombia but described as terrorists by the Ecuadorian government – continue to operate in the Esmeraldas, and to a lesser extent, Sucumbíos provinces. In 2018, the dissident "Oliver Sinisterra front", of about 80 people, kidnapped and killed three Ecuadorian journalists in Esmeraldas. The group has also been responsible for several improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against state security forces. In response, the Ecuadorian and Colombian governments have increased military co-operation along the border, killing the alleged leader of the group in December 2018.
There is a strong organised crime presence in Ecuador. The lack of visa requirements, a dollarised economy, and proximity to the world’s two largest cocaine-producing countries altogether create a favourable environment for organised crime. Ecuador is an drug-trafficking hub; Over 97 tonnes of drugs, mainly cocaine, were sized in 2018 and a further 119 tonnes in 2017, up from 18.9 tonnes in 2010. Despite the presence of local and international organised crime groups, including Colombian and Mexican cartels, levels of violence remain relatively limited. Organised crime-related violence is highest in the port of Guayaquil and along the Colombian border.
Civil and interstate war risks will remain low in 2019. Troop deployments are likely to be limited to addressing violent protests and frustrating the activities of illegal armed groups operating along the Colombian border, including Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents. Since early 2018 the government has deployed additional military personnel to the Colombian border following several improvised explosive device attacks against state security forces in Esmeraldas province by FARC dissidents. Relations with Peru remain cordial despite the temporary recall of Peru’s ambassador in objection to the building of a border wall in 2017.
Vaccines required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Vaccines recommended for all travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines recommended for most travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines recommended for some travelers
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers to the following regions: areas over 2300 m (7500 ft) in elevation east of the Andes Mountains in the provinces of Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Sucumbios, and Zamora-Chinchipe. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.
Ecuador is vulnerable to a number of natural disasters due to its location along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a highly active seismic zone. Some 24 "active" or "potentially active" volcanoes are present in the country, in particular Cotopaxi, Sangay, Tungurahua, and Reventador, all of which erupt relatively often. Always heed instructions issued by local authorities when in the vicinity of volcanoes.
Similarly, earthquakes are common and can cause largescale damage and transportation disruptions, especially if landslides occur. In April 2016, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the northwest of the country, killing hundreds of people and leaving major material and infrastructural damages in its wake. More than a year later, the region is still in recovery. Offshore earthquakes also create the risk of tsunamis in coastal regions; in the event of such an earthquake, follow all instructions issued by local authorities (such as evacuation orders).
Flooding can occur year round but is particularly frequent during the rainy season, which begins in October and lasts until April/May, although this varies slightly by region.
When using taxis, use only licensed companies and avoid hailing taxis off the street. Drive with doors locked and windows rolled up.
Criminals frequently target intra- and inter-city buses, many of which are overcrowded and poorly maintained. Use secured buses, identifiable by a sticker placed on the sides and the windshield of the vehicle; these buses are equipped with surveillance cameras and a GPS system that allows local authorities to respond quickly in the event of a problem.
In any case, be vigilant when on buses, on which theft and other more serious crimes are regularly reported. It is advisable to avoid taking buses after sundown, particularly in the regions of Manabí and Guayas.
Ecuador's climate is, unsurprisingly, largely equatorial. Along the coast temperatures and humidity levels are high throughout the year. Rain is more abundant in the period between December and April as well as in the north as compared to the south. Days are generally hot and nights cool, with little variation in temperatures from season to season.
Voltage: 120-127 V ~ 60 Hz