Ecuador is located in western South America and is bordered by Colombia in the north, Peru to the east and the south and the Pacific Ocean in the west. Ecuador’s Pacific Ocean border is on the Equator thus giving the country its name. A small country by South American standards, Ecuador still hosts incredibly diverse landscapes and ecosystems including rainforests, dry forests, mountains, volcanoes, rivers and more.
The Ecuadorian Andes run north to south through the country and are divided into two ranges, the Eastern and Western Cordilleras. These mountains have peaks reaching over 5,000 m (16,404 ft). The Central Valley separates the two ranges and hosts more than fifty volcanoes along its rims. Some of these volcanoes are still active, however, the highest volcano, Chimborazo at 6,310 m (19,685 ft) is now extinct.
Ecuador’s central highlands, known as the Sierra, are home to almost half of the country’s population while the lowland area is known as the Costa. The Oriente is found on the eastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes where a large number of indigenous groups reside. The Oriente then descends into the Amazon Basin.
Ecuador also lays claim to the world-famous Galápagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic islands on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also a national park and marine reserve.
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