Cuenca, Ecuador in the Azuay Province (“rain that falls from the sky”) has an area of 3200 square miles and is full of contrasts. Temperatures, elevations, insects, snakes, and rainfall are a few of these contrasts. Elevations of the Andes Mountains range from over 15,000 feet to 1,000 feet.
Cuenca is considered to have spring-like temperatures year around. If you drive an hour outside Cuenca, you can find frost and occasionally snow. Daytime temperatures in August (winter) can hover around 66ºF while in February (summer) may be around 78ºF, though 90ºF does occur. Night time temperatures can range from low 40sF to the 50sF, though below freezing has been experienced in some areas. Rainfall throughout the area can average 100 inches a year to less than 8 inches.
Some areas of the Province will have an abundance of insect life while other areas (such as Cuenca) have minimal invasion of insects. In outlying areas, a dozen varieties of snakes, poisonous or not, may be encountered. There are areas of the Province with an abundant insect life and areas with nearly no insets. A dozen varieties of snakes, poisonous or not, also exist within the Province. Rainfall can average 100 inches a year to less than eight inches.
One aspect of Ecuador which doesn’t vary widely is the makeup of its people. A recent census revealed 90% of Ecuadorians are Mestizo, a term used to describe people who are descendants from people of two or more ethnic groups. Originally this meant white European and Native American, but today is generally used to describe people of different cultures. This sometimes carries a racist meaning.
The remaining peoples of Ecuador are 5.2% white, 2.5% Indigenous, 2.2% Afro-Ecuadorian, and 0.2% other. In the last 20 years, statistics show the numbers of women have outnumbered men. Though it is more difficult to ascertain figures for the population of Cuenca, it is thought the national figures are quite comparable to Cuencanos.
Cuenca has been called the Athens of South America for a reason. The city is proud of its intellectual tradition as seen in its writers, poets, artists, and philosophers. No other city in South America can compare to this level. There are arts and religious festivals every month of the year. One outstanding festival is the Cuenca International Film Festival (which celebrates 20 years in October of 2022). Other major festivals appear to be in flux due to the Covid pandemic and will undoubtedly be returning. November and December have several festivals which bring out the crowds. Those will be worth exploring.
Fact: Cuenca is one of the oldest cities in the Americas
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