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Geography of Ecuador

Geography of Ecuador

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Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator (for which the country is named), between Colombia and Peru

Geographic coordinates: 2° 00' S, 77° 30' W

Map references: South America


  • total: 283,560 km²
  • land: 276,840 km²
  • water: 6,720 km²
note: includes Galapagos Islands

Land boundaries:

  • total: 2,010 km
  • border countries: Colombia 590 km, Peru 1,420 km
  • Coastline: 2,237 km

Maritime claims:

  • continental shelf: claims continental shelf between mainland and Galapagos Islands
  • territorial sea: 200 nm


  • Capital: Quito (population 1.4 million)
  • Other cities: Guayaquil (2.0 million)

Climate: tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands


  • Galapagos Islands: An island archipelago in the Pacific Ocean west of the mainland; famed for the studies by Charles Darwin that led to this theory of evolution through natural selection (note: evolution was not a theory original with Darwin; natural selection was).
  • La costa: meaning "the coast"; the western coastal province of Ecuador, bordering the Pacific Ocean, rising from coastal plain with many mangroves, although many of these have now been destroyed by shrimp farming[?], to the foothills of the Andes Mountains to the east; many banana plantations, as well. Guayaquil is located on the southern part of the coast, with some beautiful beaches and an ocean port.
  • La sierra: meaning "the jagged mountain range"; the central belt of Ecuador that includes the high Andes Mountains, inland from the coast; includes a number of large volcanoes such as Pichincha, overlooking Quito, and Cotopaxi[?], the highest volcano in the world, several peaks snow-capped year-round, even on the equator; many areas long since deforested by agriculture; a number of cut-flower growing operations; at a certain altitude zone may be found the cloud forests, los bosques nublados. Quito, the capital city, is located in a high mountain valley on the west side of the highest mountains. Baños[?] features a hot-springs swimming pool on the east side of the mountains. The road from Baños to Puyo has long been known for its hair-raising narrowness, curves and sheer drops (only one lane in some places, in one area, actually cut into the side of a cliff so that the cliff roofs over it). The most important east-west road across the Andes is the road from Quito to Lago Agrio, which is unpaved for most of its length yet is heavily traveled by tractor-trailers -- and the Trans-Ecuadorian Oil Pipeline serves as the guardrail for long stretches of this road!
  • El Oriente: meaning "the east"; tropical forest[?], largely rainforest (Spanish: la selva), on the east slopes of the Andes Mountains and descending into the Amazon Basin[?], with strikingly different upland rainforest with steep, rugged ridges and cascading streams (can be seen around Puyo[?]) and lowland rainforest. The oil fields are located in the Amazon basin, headquartered at Lago Agrio[?]; the rainforest has been all but obliterated in this region and environmental degradation is severe, with catastrophic oil pollution in some areas. In addition, Ecuador still lays claim to a large area of lowland rainforest to the east of this region, although Peru invaded it years ago and has held it ever since.

Elevation extremes:

  • lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
  • highest point: Chimborazo 6,267 m

Natural resources: petroleum, fish, timber, hydropower

Land use:

  • arable land: 6%
  • permanent crops: 5%
  • permanent pastures: 18%
  • forests and woodland: 56%
  • other: 15% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land:

5,560 km² (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: frequent earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activity; periodic droughts

Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution; pollution from oil production wastes

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography - note: Cotopaxi[?] in Andes is highest active volcano in world

See also : Ecuador

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