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Updated: May 2009. Click on an image to see the FULL size with a caption.
Ecuador gets its name from the fact that it straddles the equator. Ecuador is probably most famous for the Galapagos Islands about 965km west of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean. The capital is Quito (2800m), the second highest capital in the world. The largest city and port is Guayaquil.
After nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Ecuador gained its independence in 1830. Ecuador's population is ethnically diverse with about 65% of Mestizos, the mixed descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous Native Americans, 25% Native Americans, and 7% unmixed descendants of early Spanish colonists. Approximately 95% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic. Ecuador adopted the United States dollar (USD) as its currency in 2000.