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Ecuador, officially the Republic of Ecuador, which literally translates to the Republic of the Equator) is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland.

Map of Ecuador

Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name, and has an area of 272,046 km2 (109,483 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 in the country, was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, for being an outstanding example of a planned inland Spanish style colonial city in the Americas. 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 17 megadiverse countries in the world. The new constitution of 2008 is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights.

Ecuador is a presidential republic and became independent in 1830, after having been part of the Spanish colonial empire and the republic of Gran Colombia. It is a medium-income country with an HDI score of 0.695 (2010), and about 35.1% of its population lives below the poverty line.

Colombia is a standing middle powerwith the fourth largest economy in Latin America. Inequality and unequal distribution of wealth are widespread.In 1990, the ratio of income between the poorest and richest 10 per cent was 40-to-one. Following a decade of economic restructuring and a recession, this ratio had climbed to 80-to-one in the year 2000. By 2009, Colombia had reached a Gini coefficient of 0.587, which was the highest in Latin America. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, "there has been a decrease in the poverty rate in recent years, around half of the population continues to live under the poverty line" as of 2008-2009. Official figures for 2009 indicate that about 46% of Colombians lived below the poverty line and some 17% in "extreme poverty".

Colombia is very ethnically diverse, and the interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans brought as slaves and twentieth-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East has produced a rich cultural heritage. This has also been influenced by Colombia's varied geography. The majority of the urban centres are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains, but Colombian territory also encompasses Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Ecologically, Colombia is one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries (the most biodiverse per unit area).