Ecuador
Ecuador's population of some 16 million is 71 percent mestizo, and the official language is Spanish. Although many of the country’s 27 indigenous groups—speaking at least 15 languages, most derived from Kichwa—do take part in community tourism initiatives, Ecuadorians as a whole remain committed to maintaining their unique customs and lifestyle. Ecuador moved to the U.S. dollar in 2000, stabilizing the economy after dangerous levels of inflation. In 2008, Ecuador was the first country in the world to uphold the “Rights of Nature” in its constitution, aiming to protect the country’s rich biodiversity. The majority of its environmental wonderlands lie in 51 protected areas, making up 19 percent of the land, including national parks and the Galápagos Islands.