Ecuador, known for its geographical diversity and breathtaking landscapes, is located in the northwestern corner of South America and is bordered by Colombia to the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Ecuador, whose capital city is Quito, also comprises the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 965 kilometers west of the mainland. Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name and, as a result, experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year.
According to Conservation International, Ecuador is one of 17 "megadiverse" countries in the world. This is due largely in part to the 1,600 bird species (15 % of the world's known bird species), which reside in the continental area and 38 more native to the Galápagos Islands. In addition to the 25,000 species of plants, Ecuador has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 butterfly species.
Ecuador's indigenous communities are integrated into mainstream society to varying degrees, but some remain loyal to their native cultures, particularly those in the more remote indigenous communities of the Amazon basin.