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Ecuador

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Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador), literally, "Republic of the equator") is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, by Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America (with Chile) that do not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 965 kilometres (600 mi) west of the mainland. Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name, and has an area of 256,371 square kilometres (98,985 sq mi). Its capital city is Quito, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic centre in Latin America. The country's largest city is Guayaquil. The historic centre of Cuenca, the third largest city of this country, was also declared World Heritage Site in 1999, for being an outstanding example of a planned inland Spanish style colonial city in the Americas. Ecuador is a medium-income country with an HDI score of 0,807 (2007), where about 38,3% of the people live below the poverty line. Ecuador is also home—despite its size—to a great variety of species, many of them endemic, like those of the Galapagos islands. This species diversity makes Ecuador one of the top eighteen megadiverse countries in the world.

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