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Nowhere else on earth will you find so much natural diversity - and all the fun that accompanies it – in so tiny a place. Ecuador is the second-smallest country in South America, but its range of offerings is no less than astounding. In one day’s drive you can journey from the Amazon Basin across glaciated Andean volcanoes, down through tropical cloud forest and into the sunset for a dinner of ceviche on the balmy Pacific coast. One day you’ll pick through hand-woven wool sweaters at a chilly indigenous market in Otavalo; the next day you’ll sweat all over your binoculars while spying on howler monkeys in the Amazon jungles of the Oriente. For nature lovers Ecuador is a dream, with exotic orchids and birds, bizarre jungle plants, strange insects, windswept páramo (Andean grasslands), dripping tropical forests and the fearless animals that hop, wobble and swim around the unique, unforgettable Galápagos Islands.

For the adrenaline junky, the choices are outrageous. Mountaineering and trekking are world class (try the Quilatoa Loop); toss in some horseback riding and surfing and you’ll go home with a happily aching body. For the culture vulture, Ecuador's indigenous heritage of traditional costumes and highland markets will enchant you. As for colonial architecture, few cities top the beauty of Cuenca and Quito, both of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites. And you won't want to miss Baños, with its enticing mix of natural beauty and jumping nightlife.

So, no matter if you can’t decide exactly where to go – just go! The beauty of Ecuador is that you can change your surroundings as quickly as you change your mind.

Location:
Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru
Geographic coordinates:
2 00 S, 77 30 W
 
South America
Area:
total: 283,561 sq km
country comparison to the world: 73
land: 276,841 sq km
water: 6,720 sq km
note: includes Galapagos Islands
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Nevada
Land boundaries:
total: 2,010 km
border countries: Colombia 590 km, Peru 1,420 km
Coastline:
2,237 km
territorial sea: 200 nm
continental shelf: 100 nm from 2,500-m isobath
tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands
coastal plain (costa), inter-Andean central highlands (sierra), and flat to rolling eastern jungle (oriente)
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Chimborazo 6,267 m
note: due to the fact that the earth is not a perfect sphere and has an equatorial bulge, the highest point on the planet furthest from its center is Mount Chimborazo not Mount Everest, which is merely the highest peak above sea-level
petroleum, fish, timber, hydropower
arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 4.81%
other: 89.48% (2005)
8,650 sq km (2003)
432 cu km (2000)
total: 16.98 cu km/yr (12%/5%/82%)
per capita: 1,283 cu m/yr (2000)
frequent earthquakes; landslides; volcanic activity; floods; periodic droughts
volcanism: Ecuador experiences volcanic activity in the Andes Mountains; Sangay (elev. 5,230 m), which erupted in 2010, is mainland Ecuador's most active volcano; other historically active volcanoes in the Andes include Antisana, Cayambe, Chacana, Cotopaxi, Guagua Pichincha, Reventador, Sumaco, and Tungurahua; Fernandina (elev. 1,476 m), a shield volcano that last erupted in 2009, is the most active of the many Galapagos volcanoes; other historically active Galapagos volcanoes include Wolf, Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul, Pinta, Marchena, and Santiago
deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution; pollution from oil production wastes in ecologically sensitive areas of the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Cotopaxi in Andes is highest active volcano in world

Ecuador

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