Rainforest and the tropical vegetation of the Amazon is located on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador. The rainforest in Ecuador is home to the indigenous people who work in agriculture, livestock breeding, hunting, fishing, and wood harvesting. The rainforest ecosystem has lush vegetation and is noted for its wide variety of trees and medicinal plants, as well as gold, silver and oil.

Ecuador Amazon Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • The children of Compassion’s Tena City program gather in front of their church. “Cristo, el Unico Camino” is Spanish for “Christ, the Only Way.” Ecuador Large Group of Children
  • Indigenous families in the Amazon region live in huts made of untreated wood and straw. Most indigenous families are large, with six or more members living together. Ecuador Round Huts in Trees
  • An indigenous woman and her daughter drink chicha, a traditional beverage made from chewed and fermented cassava. Chicha is often used as a substitute when food is scarce. Ecuador Mother and Daughter Drinking Chicha
  • Single-parent households are all too common in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Many fathers have abandoned their families to search for work. Ecuador Boy and His Mother
  • Children learn valuable relationship skills while playing games. In Compassion’s program, many kids find the attention, companionship and affection they lack at home. Ecuador Children Playing Soccer
  • The personal attention, tutoring, and spiritual mentoring children receive through Compassion’s programs are paying tremendous dividends in their lives. Ecuador Girls Reading a Book

Overview: Amazon Region of Ecuador

Ecuador is divided into three continental regions — the coast, the Andes Mountains and the east, which is part of South America’s Amazon Basin — and one insular region, the Galápagos Islands. The Amazon Basin also spreads into Brazil, Peru and several other countries. Covering 2.7 million square miles, it is the largest rainforest in the world.

Only a quarter of the people who live in the jungle region live in urban areas; the rest, who are mostly indigenous, live in rural areas. Most people work in agriculture, livestock breeding, hunting, fishing and wood harvesting. Others are employed in commerce, manufacturing, construction and transportation.

The Amazon rainforest region of Ecuador is located on the eastern side of the Andes, a chain of mountains that runs the length of the country from north to south. This area is further divided into the Lower Oriental Zone, virgin jungle with abundant forests and swamps; and the Upper Oriental Zone, an area with milder weather and a larger population. The average temperature of the region is the mid-70s.

The region has the typical lush vegetation associated with the rainforest ecosystem, and it is noted for its wide variety of trees and medicinal plants, as well as gold, silver and oil. The area holds a staggering array of flora and fauna, with 4,500 species of orchids and butterflies, monkeys, macaws, parrots and pink river dolphins.

This region is divided into six provinces: Pastaza, Napo, Morona Santiago, Zamora Chinchipe, Orellana and Sucumbíos. This area of Ecuador is home to 694,000 inhabitants; nearly 60 percent are mestizo (a blend of indigenous Amerindian and white), and 34 percent comprise seven main groups of indigenous people.


Culture Corner


Prepare maito, a typical Ecuadorian dish.


  • 5 pounds tilapia
  • Salt
  • Banana tree or calathea leaves
  • Cooked green plantain or manioc
  • 2 onions
  • 1 pound tomatoes


Wash and scale the fish. Make small cuts throughout the fish and add salt.

Wrap the fish with at least three banana or calathea leaves. The leaves must look like a bag wrapping the fish.

Tie the top of “the bag” up with a heat-resistant cord.

Once you’ve wrapped all the fish, place them on the grill at low heat for 30 to 40 minutes; check and turn them over from time to time to keep them from burning.

You know the maitos are ready if you deflate the banana or calathea leaf wrapping with a fork and very little clear water comes out. Another sign is a noticeable weight loss for each maito compared with when you put them on the grill.

Serve each maito with a portion of plantain or manioc cooked with salt, and a simple onion and chopped tomato salad, dressed with lemon juice and salt.

Life in the Amazon Region

Ecuador’s Amazon region lies in the eastern part of the country. The climate is tropical – warm and humid, with a lot of rain. Though the Amazon territory is easily as large as Ecuador’s other two regions, its inhabitants account for only 5 percent of the country’s total population. The region has many rivers and three active volcanoes. An estimated 10 percent of all plant species on Earth are found in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Most people in the region – especially the indigenous – make their living from agriculture. Others hunt, fish, and make handicrafts to sell to tourists. Unfortunately, many have found that this way of life can no longer sustain their families. Unemployment and poverty are becoming distressingly common, as are related problems such as alcoholism and parental neglect.

Children at Home

Families in this region usually live in houses with cement walls, wooden floors and metal roofs, although some homes are made of bamboo with thatch roofs. A typical house is 30 by 30 feet, and often holds up to five family members. More than three-fourths of the houses in this region need repairs or updating.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Ecuador

Oil production represents more than half of Ecuador’s exports, and much of that production occurs in the amazon region. As oil production facilities have grown, indigenous people have been forced to evacuate their homes and have seen their habitat and health destroyed. The oil production pollutes the water, soil and air, causing skin and respiratory tract infections, anemia, amnesia, congenital malformations and cancer. Social problems include violence, prostitution and alcoholism.

Improper use of pesticides is also a problem, and it has caused skin and stomach infections and even is linked to a significant number of suicides related to a high rate of depression.

As a result of unemployment and under-employment, nearly three-fourths of the region’s population lives in poverty, earning less than the minimum wage of $7 a day.

Local Needs and Challenges

Alcohol abuse is rising at an alarming rate among people in the Amazon region. Many children in Compassion’s child development centers live with alcoholic parents. Some have suffered physical abuse at their parents’ hands. All have suffered neglect. Their parents’ addiction means they do not receive the food, clothing and education they need at home.

The lack of amenities such as running water and sewage systems contributes to serious health problems in the community. Many children suffer from chronic illnesses.


Schools and Education Education in Ecuador

Although about three-fourths of the region’s children finish elementary school, only one-fourth graduate from high school, and only one in 10 goes on to further education. The indigenous people attend rural one-teacher schools, which represent nearly three-fourths of the elementary schools in the jungle region. The average student-to-teacher ratio is 1 to 20 or 1 to 30, with one teacher for 50 students at some remote schools.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in the jungle region of Ecuador provide registered children with a place to learn and grow. While their parents spend their days fishing, farming and harvesting wood, Compassion-assisted children attend health classes, tutoring sessions and Bible studies at the center. They also spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.


Working Through the Local Church

Local churches provide the Compassion ministry with ideal entry points into the communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Local church leaders and lay people are deeply concerned about – and committed to – their community’s children in need. Compassion gives them the training and means to reach these children and make a difference in their lives.

Thanks to Compassion’s generous donors, churches in the Amazon region are able to provide a safe haven where children are nurtured physically, emotionally and spiritually. Using church facilities, Compassion-assisted child development centers give kids a place to escape from the harsh reality of their everyday life – and to learn the skills they need for a better future.

How Compassion Works in Ecuador Compassion in Ecuador

Compassion’s work in Ecuador began in 1974. From humble beginnings, we have expanded our reach dramatically. Currently, more than 60,300 children participate in 210 child development centers throughout the country. Compassion partners with local churches to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of Ecuadorian children. Our dedicated workers help them understand that they can rise above their dire circumstances to become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Compassion’s Partnership Facilitators bring many different skill sets to their jobs. Yet they all have one trait in common. Norma Sevillano, a facilitator for Compassion Ecuador, puts it this way: “My passion is to work with children.”

Their passion is contagious. They share it with local churches, organizations, and members of the community. The facilitators organize and train these passionate volunteers and workers to effectively serve the children in need in their community.

The facilitator teaches workers how to present Compassion’s specially designed curriculum. This involves more than just getting through a lesson plan; it involves learning to communicate in a way that affects hard-to-reach children and encourages the kids to open their hearts and minds to God’s love.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the children abandoned after their parents migrate from indigenous communities to larger cities as they look for better jobs.
  • Pray for the financial security of families in this region, which has the highest rate of poverty in the country.
  • Pray that the winter (rainy) season doesn’t bring landslides, which can disconnect this region from the rest of the country and from important goods and services.
  • Pray for the health of the children who live in the Amazon because they don’t always have access to medical attention.