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Countries

Ecuador

Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador
(Ecuadorpostales/Shutterstock.com)
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Overview

Ecuador straddles the equator on the Pacific Coast of South America. Colombia sits on its northern border, and Peru wraps around its eastern and southern boundaries. Geographical barriers divide the country into three parts. The east is part of the Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains run down the center, and the west is in the coastal zone. The country's major territorial conflict with Peru was settled in 1998. The dispute dated back to the time when Ecuador was part of Gran Colombia, which included Colombia, Venezuela and Panama, in the early 19th century. With the dissolution of Gran Colombia, Ecuador inherited a territorial dispute that took over 150 years to be settled. Although there is no territorial conflict with Colombia, Ecuador's border with its northern neighbor poses a major security challenge for the government in the capital, Quito, because it is a major route for Colombian drug trafficking and armed groups. Criminals and rebels tend to cross into Ecuador to escape Colombia's security forces. Ecuador and Colombia almost went to war at the beginning of the 21st century when Colombia bombed Ecuadorian territory in an operation against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The country's core regions are the Quito metropolitan area and Guayaquil, home to Ecuador's major port. Those two areas hold more than half of the country's population. Over 70 percent of Ecuador's population is mestizo, and less than 10 percent is indigenous. However, indigenous groups have clashed frequently with the central government because they oppose oil and mining activities, especially in Ecuador's Amazon region. Oil and mining products are two of the country's key export products, representing almost 40 percent of total exports.

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