Provinces of Ecuador

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I added the 2010 census results.

Valentin Arzoumanian has discovered that Ecuador has a plan afoot to create nine planning zones (zonas de planificación), subdivided into 140 districts (distritos), and further into 1,134 circuits (circuitos). Implementation is scheduled for 2016. The zones are classified as seven regions and two metropolitan districts. The metropolitan districts will be formed from existing cantons (one canton for Quito, three for Guayaquil); the regions will be formed by combining existing provinces, excluding the territory allocated to the metropolitan districts. Most districts will be formed by combining existing cantons, but a few of the most populous cantons will be divided to form districts. Since these are all described as planning entities, it's not entirely clear to me whether the provinces, cantons, and parishes will be abolished, or will remain as administrative divisions alongside the planning divisions. See source [3] for more information.

Santa Elena and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas provinces, created in late 2007, were listed in "Geopolitical Entities and Codes", a successor to FIPS 10-4, which was published in 2010-04. ISO 3166-2 assigned codes to the two new provinces in Newsletter II-2, dated 2010-06-30.

Orellana province, created in 1998, was recognized by Change Notice 6 to FIPS PUB 10-4 (released 2001-01-28) and ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-4 (dated 2002-12-10).

Country overview: 

Short nameECUADOR
ISO codeEC
LanguageSpanish (es)
Time zone-5 (see note)


Ecuador has been an independent country throughout the whole 20th century. It has also been involved in territorial disputes throughout the century. Provincial borders have undergone extensive changes. Ecuador and Peru have fought repeatedly over disputed territories in the Región Oriental.

Time zone note: The Galapagos Islands are in time zone -6.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Ecuador
  2. Dutch: Ecuador, Republiek Ecuador (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Ecuador (formal)
  4. Finnish: Ecuador
  5. French: Équateur m
  6. German: Ecuador n
  7. Icelandic: Ekvador
  8. Italian: Equatore, Ecuador m
  9. Norwegian: Ecuador, Republikken Ecuador (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Equador m, República f do Equador m (formal)
  11. Russian: Республика Эквадор (formal)
  12. Spanish: Ecuador, República f del Ecuador m (formal)
  13. Swedish: Ecuador
  14. Turkish: Ekvator Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Spanish ecuador: equator, from location on equator

Primary subdivisions: 

Ecuador is divided into 24 provincias (provinces).

El OroEC.EOOEC0830207C600,6595,8502,259Machala7
GalápagosEC.GAWEC0130420I25,1248,0103,093Puerto Baquerizo Moreno5
Los RíosEC.LRREC1330212C778,1157,1752,770Babahoyo5
OrellanaEC.ORDEC2430322O136,39622,5008,700Puerto Francisco de Orellana2
Santa ElenaEC.SESEEC2530224C308,6933,7631,453Santa Elena5
Santo Domingo de los TsáchilasEC.SDSDEC2630123S368,0133,8051,469Santo Domingo (de los Colorados)4
SucumbíosEC.SUUEC2230321O176,47218,3287,076Nueva Loja1
24 provinces14,483,499272,048105,038
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2. According to "Where's That Vehicle Come From? ", the first letter on the
    license plate of a vehicle is the same as the ISO code (in the draft standard) for the province where
    the vehicle is registered. See the Postal codes heading below.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • NUTE: Nomenclature of Statistical Territorial Units.
  • Reg: Region of Ecuador, keyed to the table below.
  • Population: 2010-11-28 census (source [4]).
  • Zn: Future zone number(s) according to source [3].


Note: Populations and areas of the new provinces were calculated by adding up the corresponding figures for the cantons that constitute them.

O303Oriente (Amazonica)

Postal codes: 

Ecuador uses six-character postal codes. The first character is the province letter (ISO code of the province). The next two characters are digits indicating the canton. The next two are digits indicating the parish. Finally, one additional letter identifies a local delivery area. That is the explanation given in the Universal Postal Union's document, but I haven't observed these codes in actual use.

Further subdivisions:

See the Cantons of Ecuador page.

The provinces are subdivided into cantones (cantons), which are further subdivided into parroquias (parishes). The parishes are classified as parroquias urbanas (urban) and parroquias rurales (rural). Spanish Wikipedia says that there are 221 cantons and 820 parishes as of late 2013.

Territorial extent: 

Ecuador's territorial claim extended as far as the Marañón River before 1942. In that year, the Protocol of Rio de Janeiro drew the border between Ecuador and Peru shown on most modern maps. However, Ecuador still claims some of the region adjudicated to Peru. This area was part of the Región Oriental, which in 1942 consisted of Napo Pastaza and Santiago Zamora provinces.

Galápagos consists of an isolated island group in the Pacific, including the islands of Fernandina, Isabela (the largest), San Cristóbal (site of the capital), San Salvador, and Santa Cruz.

Guayas contains Isla Puná and other smaller islands in the mouth of the Guayas River.

The UN LOCODE page  for Ecuador lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Archipiélago de Colón: named for Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish)
  2. Bolívar: named for Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), liberator of Ecuador from Spanish rule
  3. Chimborazo: after Chimborazo, the highest mountain in the world (as measured by its summit's distance from the center of the earth)
  4. Cotopaxi: after the volcano Cotopaxi, from Quechua q`utu: smokes, p`asi: mouth.
  5. El Oro: Spanish for The Gold
  6. Esmeraldas: Spanish for Emeralds
  7. Galápagos: Spanish galápago: river tortoise
  8. Guayas: ethnic name
  9. Los Ríos: Spanish for The Rivers

Change history: 

  1. 1880-11-03: Cañar and Carchi provinces created.
  2. 1884-04-23: Bolívar province split from Los Ríos; El Oro province split from Guayas.
  3. 1904: Ecuador ceded land between the Japurá and Amazon Rivers, as far west as the modern border between Brazil and Colombia, to Brazil.
  4. 1920-12-15: Oriente region (capital Archidona) split into the provinces of Napo Pastaza (capital Tena) and Santiago Zamora (capital Macas). The name Región Oriental is still applied to the group of provinces descended from these.
  5. 1939: Name of León province changed to Cotopaxi.
  6. 1953-11-10: Santiago Zamora province split into Morona-Santiago and Zamora-Chinchipe.
  7. 1959-10-22: Napo Pastaza province split into Napo and Pastaza.
  8. ~1965: Capital of Archipiélago de Colón moved from San Cristóbal to nearby Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (sometimes shortened to either Puerto Baquerizo or Baquerizo Moreno).
  9. 1973-02-18: Territorio Insular del Archipiélago de Colón territory became Galápagos province.
  10. 1989-02-13: Sucumbíos province split from Napo (former FIPS code EC16).
  11. 1998-07-30: Orellana province split from Napo.
  12. 2007-10-02: Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas formed by taking Santo Domingo de los Colorados canton from Pichincha (former HASC code EC.PI). The canton, but not its capital city, was renamed to match the province.
  13. 2007-11-07: Santa Elena province formed by taking La Libertad, Salinas, and Santa Elena cantons from Guayas (former HASC code EC.GU).
  14. 2013-05-31: La Concordia canton moved from Esmeraldas province to Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. Its area is 375 km.² (about 145 mi.²).

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Cotopaxi: León (obsolete)
  2. Galápagos: Archipiélago de Colón (variant)

Population history:

El Oro64,96989,306164,602262,564334,872412,572525,763600,659
Los Ríos104,547150,260255,942383,432455,869527,559650,178778,115
Napo 25,42525,582 115,110103,61079,139103,697
Orellana      86,493136,396
Pastaza  14,442 31,77942,23661,77983,933
Santa Elena       308,693
Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas       368,013
Sucumbíos     77,148128,995176,472
Zamora-Chinchipe  12,089 46,69166,16776,60191,376
Disputed areas   18,19359,03670,62172,58832,384


1933 figures are from source [2], and are described as calculated populations. 1962 figures are "datos corregidos" (corrected data) shown in a later source. For 1933, the entire population of the Región Oriental is shown under Morona-Santiago. For 1950, the population of Napo Pastaza province is shown under Napo, and Santiago Zamora under Morona-Santiago. Other years have similar combinations, according to the provinces existing at each census.


  1. [1] Library of Congress country study  (retrieved 1999).
  2. [2] Peñaherrera G., A., "Informe de la Direccion General de Estadistica, Registro Civil y Censo al Sr. Ministro del Ramo". Quito, 1934.
  3. [3] Zonas, distritos y circuitos , Secretaría Nacional de Planificación y Desarrollo (retrieved 2013-10-29).
  4. [4] Resultados Censo de Población . Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (retrieved 2014-02-22).
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