The Setting

 

Ecuador lies on the equator along the Pacific coast of South American. It is a land of spectacular geographical and cultural contrasts with its tropical coast and beautiful beaches, the snow-capped Andean volcanoes and the lush Amazon rain forest.

Located in southern Ecuador, Cuenca is a city of more than 400,000 people and is the third largest city in the country. Surrounded by four rivers, Cuenca sits in a valley at 8,400 feet and enjoys spring-like temperatures year round.

Cuenca was founded in 1557 on the Inca city of Tomebamba, and continues to preserve its Spanish colonial heritage. The many churches dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, the colonial residences, the cobblestone streets and the nearby artisan villages make cuenca one of the most charming cities in Ecuador.

The city is large enough to provide the necessary health, educational and recreational services, yet small enough to offer personal hospitality. The surrounding countryside offers many opportunities for camping, hiking and climbing. The three universities, many museums and cultural organizations host frequent academic and artistic events.

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