What you need to know about Quito

Quito formally San Francisco de Quito, is the capital city of Ecuador, and at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level, it is the highest official capital city in the world. It is located in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains. With a population of 2,671,191 according to the last census (2014), Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil. It is also the capital of the Pichincha province and the seat of the Metropolitan District of Quito. The canton recorded a population of 2,239,191 residents in the 2010 national census. In 2008, the city was designated as the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations. The historic center of Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centers in the Americas. Quito, along with Kraków, were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978.  The central square of Quito is located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the equator; the city itself extends to within about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of zero latitude. A monument and museum marking the general location of the equator is known locally as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the world), to avoid confusion, as the word ecuador is Spanish for equator.

Area: 324 km²
Population: 2,671,191


Spanish is spoken in Quito



  • The sucre lost 67% of its foreign exchange value during 1999, then in one week nosedived 17%, ending at 25,000/US$1 on January 7, 2000. On January 9, President Jamil Mahuad announced that the US dollarwould be adopted as Ecuador’s official currency


The U.S. Department of State notes that petty theft is the most common crime issue facing tourists in Quito, stating in 2015: “Pickpocketing, purse snatching, robbery, bag slashing, and hotel room theft are the most common types of crimes committed against U.S. citizens.”


Quito is the largest city in contribution to national GDP, and the second highest in per capital income after Cuenca. Quito has the highest level of tax collection in Ecuador, exceeding the national 57% per year 2009, currently being the most important economic region of the country, 63 as the latest “study” conducted by the Central Bank of Ecuador. TAME, an airline of Ecuador, has its headquarters in Quito. Petroecuador, the largest company in the country and one of the largest in Latin America is headquartered in Quito. Headquarters and regional offices of many national and international financial institutions, oil corporations and international businesses are also located in Quito, making it a world class business city. In “The World according to GaWC global cities report which measures a city’s integration into the world city network, Quito is ranked as a Beta city, as an important world class metropolis which is instrumental in linking it’s region or state into the world economy. 


Quito is governed by a mayor and a 15-member city council. The mayor is elected to a five-year term and can be re-elected. The position also doubles as Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Quito (the canton). The current mayor is Mauricio Rodas.


Quito is located in the northern highlands of Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin. The city is built on a long plateau lying on the east flanks of the Pichincha volcano. The valley of Guayllabamba River where Quito lies is flanked by volcanoes, some of them snow-capped, and visible from the city on a clear day. Quito is the closest capital city to the equator.

 Health and security

  • The Ministry of Public Health (Ministerio de Salud Publica del Ecuador) is responsible for the regulation and creation of public health policies and health care plans. The Minister of Public Health is appointed directly by the President of the republic. David Chiriboga, a specialist and researcher in community medicine, was appointed Minister in April 2010 but resigned in January 2012, and was replaced by Carina Vance.
  • The National Police of Ecuador is the national police force and the main civil law enforcement agency of Ecuador. It is commanded by the Commanding General (Comandante General) and subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior.


Quito has many ways of getting in and around the city. 

  • Bikes are becoming their main form of transportation. More and more locals and tourists are starting to use
  • You can rent a car in Quito, but it’s not recommended for getting around the city.
  • City Tours: A variety of tour operators offer half-a-day to full-day city tours to get you orientated, see the main museums, plazas, churches and palaces.
  • Private bus companies also have hundreds of lines that go all around the city.

Under the Köppen climate classification, Quito has a subtropical highland climate (Cfb). Because of its elevation and its closeness to the equator, Quito has a fairly constant cool climate. The average temperature at noon is 18.7 °C (65.7 °F) with a normal night-time low of 9.3 °C (48.7 °F).The annual average temperature is 14 °C (57 °F). The city has only two seasons: dry and wet. The dry season, June through September (4 months), is referred to as summer; the wet season, October through May (8 months), is referred to as winter. Annual precipitation, depending on location, is about 1,000 mm (39 in).,Quito receives some of the greatest solar radiation in the world, sometimes reaching 24 in the UV Index. The fact that Quito lies almost on the equator means that high pressure systems are extremely rare. Pressure is stable, so very low pressure systems are also rare. From July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, the lowest pressure recorded was 998.2 hpa, and the highest was 1015.2 hpa. Despite the absence of high pressure, Quito can still experience settled weather. Generally, the highest pressure is around midnight and the lowest in the mid-afternoon. Sometimes Quito experiences mild nights and cool days, for example, a maximum temperature of just 8.7 °C on April 24, 2013 or a minimum of 14 °C on February 7, 2014. These are random, can occur at any time of the year, and are hard to predict.