Ecuador (/ˈɛkwədɔːr/ EK-wə-dor, Spanish: [ekwaˈðor]) (Quechua: Ikwadur), officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador, which literally translates as "Republic of the Equator"; Quechua: Ikwadur Ripuwlika), is a representative democratic republic in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland. The capital city is Quito, while the largest city is Guayaquil.

What is now Ecuador was home to a variety of Amerindian groups that were gradually incorporated into the Inca Empire during the 15th century. The territory was colonized by Spain during the 16th century, achieving independence in 1820 as part of Gran Colombia, from which it emerged as its own sovereign state in 1830. The legacy of both empires is reflected in Ecuador's ethnically diverse population, with most of its 16.4 million people being mestizos, followed by large minorities of European, Amerindian, and African descendants. Spanish is the official language and is spoken by a majority of the population, though 13 Amerindian languages are also recognized, including Quichua and Shuar.

Ecuador is a middle-income country, with a developing economy that is highly dependent on commodities, namely petroleum and agricultural products. It is governed as a democratic presidential republic. One of 17 megadiverse countries in the world, Ecuador hosts many endemic plants and animals, such as those of the Galápagos Islands. In recognition of its unique ecological heritage, the new constitution of 2008 is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights.

Capital: Quito (00°9′S 78°21′W)

Largest city: Guayaquil

Official languages: Spanish

Recognized regional languages: Kichwa (Quichua), Shuar and others

Ethnic groups

Demonym: Ecuadorian

Government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Legislature: National Assembly

Independence: Declared: August 10, 1809 / from Spain: May 24, 1822 /from Gran Colombia: May 13, 1830 / Recognized by Spain: February 16, 1840

Current constitution: September 28, 2008

Total Area283,561 km2 (109,484 sq mi)

Population: 2016 estimate - 16,385,068 / 2010 census - 14,483,499

Currency: United States dollar (USD)

Time zone: ECT/GALT (UTC−5 / −6)

Drives on the: right

Calling code: +593

ISO 3166 code: EC

Internet TLD: .ec

Electrical power outlets in Ecuador are the same as in the US (110v).

Mobile (cellular) phone frequencies in Ecuador are 850 MHz, 1900 MHz, and 1700/2100 MHz (LTE).

Climate

There is great variety in the climate, largely determined by altitude. It is mild year-round in the mountain valleys, with a humid subtropical climate in coastal areas and rainforest in lowlands. The Pacific coastal area has a tropical climate with a severe rainy season. The climate in the Andean highlands is temperate and relatively dry, and the Amazon basin on the eastern side of the mountains shares the climate of other rainforest zones.

Because of its location at the equator, Ecuador experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year. Both sunrise and sunset occur each day at the two six o'clock hours.

Biodiversity

Ecuador is one of seventeen megadiverse countries in the world according to Conservation International, and it has the most biodiversity per square kilometer of any nation.

Cuisine

Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with altitude, and associated agricultural conditions. Beefchicken, and seafood are popular in the coastal regions and are typically served with carbohydrate-rich foods, such as rice accompanied with lentilspasta, or plantain. Whereas in the mountainous regions porkchickenbeef and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are often served with ricecorn, or potatoes. A popular street food in mountainous regions is hornado, consisting of potatoes served with roasted pig.

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