Ecuador is a small nation located  on  the Pacific, or western coast  of South America between Colombia and  Peru. There are three major ecological zones; the coast, the highlands and the Amazon rain forest.  There are also varied climates, from the steamy mangrove  swamps of the Pacific Coast to the icy glacial peaks of the  Andes.  The Ecuadorian Amazon is full of  extraordinary  flora and fauna. Ecuador is rich in natural  resources and has industries in gold, bananas, fishing, oil  and tourism.

Ecuador lies due south of New York City.  Residents of North America often find it hard to believe that  Ecuador,  which  lies  in  the same time zone as the east coast of the USA lies EAST of New York City.   Quito,  the capital city of  Ecuador (located at 9,246 feet above sea level  in  the  Andes Mountains) lies within the Belt  of  Fire,  a  name derived from the ring of still active volcanoes  that  dominate  the landscape. Next in altitude to Chimborazo,  Ecuador’s  highest  mountain at 20,576 feet, is Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. Other  notable  mountains  include  Sangay,  Cayambe, Illiniza, Tungurahua and Pichincha.  The Galapagos Islands, whose strange animals inspired Charles  Darwin  in  developing  his  famous  theory  of evolution,  belong  to  Ecuador. They  are located some 600 miles off its coast on the Equator due west of Quito.