Ecuador is located in the northwestern part of South America and borders Colombia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean. The country has a total area of 248,513 km2 and a population of over 13.6 million inhabitants. Ecuador is highly exposed to El Niño events, floods and associated landslides. The country faces numerous environmental and socioeconomic challenges, such as erosion and unregulated land use, desertification, deforestation, overexploitation of resources, pollution, poverty, health problems, and high population density in the coastal and mountain regions, which make it extremely vulnerable to a changing climate.
Within Ecuador, vulnerability across ethnic groups differs considerably. According to the 2001 Census, about 77 percent of the population considers itself mestizo, 10 percent white, 7 percent indigenous, 5 percent Afroecuatorian. Ecuador has a GDP of US$ 57.2 million. The poverty rates, however, are disproportionately higher in the indigenous group: 87 percent for the entire ethnic group and 96 percent in the rural highlands, while for non-indigenous people the poverty rate is 61 percent. Poverty is greater in rural areas where the population has limited access to health, education, and sanitation. However, in the last decades, significant migration flows to the cities have changed the demographic dynamics of the country, increasing urban poverty rates as well.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities