An image of Ecuador Where Ecuador is in the world.

Ecuador is the smallest country in South America and is named after the equator* which passes right through it.

*The equator is an imaginary line that circles the earth, dividing it into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

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Compassion’s work in Ecuador started in 1974.


Spanish and Amerindian languages are spoken.

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Chao/ Hasta luego

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The tapir

Tapirs are related to rhinos, but have long, fleshy noses.

Natural materials such as palm, mangrove, bamboo, eucalyptus and earth are often used to build houses in rural areas.

Living conditions

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15.4 million

Compassion currently has 224 projects across Ecuador.

Farming was the main occupation of Bolivians from many years, until the discovery of oil in the 1970s. This brought money to the country and health, education and housing all got much better for some people. Sadly, the wealth wasn’t shared by everyone and people who had lived in Ecuador for hundreds of years stayed poor.

The government has tried to stop the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, but there are many poor people still living in Ecuador.

Nearly 70 per cent of Ecuador’s children live in poverty and a quarter of all children under the age of five are ill because they don’t have enough of the right foods to eat.

Many people have left Ecuador to find work in the United States or Europe, as there are so few jobs in Ecuador. This has caused problems as families are separated and children are left with neighbours or relatives.

Eight-year-old Melisa lives in Anchayacu, a small town in northern Ecuador. She goes to a Compassion project run by the local church. Melisa is shy, but she loves to sing.

Watch this video and read Melisa's story to find out how your letters can encourage your sponsored child.

The project is like her second home. “I like going to the project,” she says excitedly.

The project is a particularly special place for Melisa as she comes from a broken home. Her parents separated a couple of years ago and she rarely sees them anymore. She and her brothers and sisters live with their grandmother and Aunt Doris.

Doris used to work as a cook at the project, and is so glad that Melisa comes. “Children come in three times a week,” Doris explains. “They play, have fun, learn, get their meal, are provided with school supplies and the tutors help them with their school homework.”

For Melisa, the help that she gets through the project is especially important as no-one at home can read or write to help her with her homework.

Doris has seen the difference that sponsors of the children at the project have made. “It is so beautiful that people from another country have shown interest in my Melisa. In addition to her own family, someone else is concerned about her.”

The best thing for Melisa is when she receives letters from her sponsor. She says, “I love getting letters from my sponsor. She wrote to me on my birthday and told me that I am pretty, and that makes me feel great and happy.” Receiving words of friendship, encouragement and advice in her letters helps her to have hope, even when days are tough.

That the children in Compassion projects in Ecuador would know how loved they are by God.

That the government can help provide jobs so families can stay together.

That children would have enough of the right foods to eat so that they won’t be malnourished.

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US Dollar

The US dollar became currency in Ecuador in March 2000.

Over 65,180 Ecuadorian children are registered through Compassion.

How can you encourage your sponsored child?

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Why not write to them and mention some of the facts you’ve found here. Ask them questions about what it’s like to live in Ecuador.

Food varies depending on where you live in Ecuador. If you live in the rainforest, cassava is used for all kinds of things. It can be mashed, stewed and made into chips. If you live by the sea, seafood is an everyday favourite. Why not try out this Ecuadorian coastal recipe:

Recipe: Shrimp ceviche

Shrimp ceviche Ingredients (adult help needed)
  • 2-3 cups of cooked, unshelled and veined shrimps or prawns
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 cup of fresh corn kernels
  1. Cut the onion into the thinnest possible slices and place in a bowl of cold salted water. Soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Cook the corn kernels in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Drain the onions and rinse with cold water. Add the onions and corn to bowl with the shrimps or prawns.
  4. Whisk together lime juice, orange juice, ketchup, sugar and vinegar. Mix with the shrimps or prawns, corn and onions. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

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The Galapagos Islands, famous for their amazing wildlife, are part of Ecuador.

What do you call a tapir on a roundabout?

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Information sources: The CIA World Fact Book 2011, Compassion International, Human Development Report, BBC, BBC Nature, Wikipedia