Ecuador Country Report
President Lenín Moreno took office on 24 May 2017 after securing little over 51% of votes in a run-off election on 2 April. He has effectively lost his legislative majority following the defection of dozens of PAIS Alliance (Alianza PAIS: AP) members loyal to his predecessor, Rafael Correa, who opposes the new government. Moreno's policy priorities are tax reform; privatisations to reduce debt; securing investment in the hydrocarbon and mining sectors, and the maintenance of dollarisation. IHS Markit anticipates GDP growth of 1.8 in 2018, but high debt levels are likely to restrain policy options. The government's support for extractive-sector development is likely to be moderated by higher social and environmental regulation to appease indigenous unrest in the Amazon and thecountry's southern provinces.
Labour strikes are unlikely to pose major operational disruption in the next year. Trade unions are relatively weak and are prohibited from engaging in strikes in strategic sectors including hydrocarbons, electricity, and telecommunications. Risks of disruptive protests, strikes and demonstrations have also been falling as a result of overtures to labour movements and indigenous organisations by the administration of President Lenín Moreno, who assumed office in mid-2017. Corruption remains a significant risk at all levels of government and civil service, although a high-profile government crackdown on such illicit practices has brought greater political attention to the issue, helping to reduce bribery solicitation risks.
Terrorist threats are rising in Ecuador and come mainly from external rather than internal sources. The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) has traditionally held a presence in the border provinces of Carchi, Esmeraldas, and Sucumbíos and dissidents continue to operate in Esmeraldas. In April 2018, the dissident "Oliver Sinisterra front", of about 80 people, kidnapped and killed three Ecuadorian journalists in Esmeraldas. The group has also bee responsible for several improvised explosive device attacks against state security forces in the province. In response, the Ecuadorian and Colombian governments have increased military co-operation along the border.
Civil and interstate war risks remain low in 2018. In 2015, violent protests for and against then president Rafael Correa, required police to separate protestors in Quito and protect government buildings. Since President Lenín Moreno's election, further protests of this scale are unlikely. The government has deployed additional military personnel to the border since early 2018 and is co-ordinating anti-insurgent operations with its neighbour following FARC dissident attacks on state security forces in Esmerladas province. Relations with Peru remain cordial despite the temporary recall of Peru's ambassador in objection to the building of a border wall in 2017.
Plans to increase investment in hydrocarbons and mining-related projects bring ongoing risks of social protests. However, such risks have declined under the Moreno administration, which seeks support of indigenous organisations by through greater engagement with indigenous lobby CONAIE and restricting extractive-sector developments on community land. A February 2018 referendum promised new restrictions on mining and hydrocarbons activities. Ongoing austerity measures, including public-sector redundancies, the closure of five ministries planned through 2018 and a rise in gasoline (petrol) prices will continue to be met by protests, causing transport disruption in major cities.
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