Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Geography Ecuador

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Geography Ecuador

Geography of Ecuador, BeachStraddling the equator in western South America, Ecuador has territories in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. It borders Colombia to the north and shares a border Peru to the south and to the east. The Pacific Ocean is Ecuador’s western border. Ecuador, 256,370 square kilometers in size, is geographically divided into four regions (the Amazon, the Highlands, the Coast, and the Galapagos Islands) and is politically split into 22 provinces, which, in turn, are split into 205 cantons. The coastal provinces (from north to south) are Esmeraldas, Manabi, Los Rios, Guayas, and El Oro. Highlands provinces are Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Chimborazo, in the north, and Bolívar, Cañar, Azuay and Loja, in the south. The Amazon is comprised of the provinces (from north to south) of Sucumbios, Napo, Pastaza, Orellana, Morona-Santiago and Zamora-Chinchipe. Ecuador’s 22nd province the Galapagos Islands.

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, cacao and coffee plantations, as well. Guayaquil, located on the southern part of the coast is the biggest city of the country, with some beautiful beaches and an ocean port. In the north coast of Ecuador the port of Balao in Esmeraldas is used for oil export and the port of Manta is used by the US Air Force as a control point for narcotics traffic control.

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 active 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.

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Last Modified 8/1/06 3:30 PM