Ecuador received its name from the fact that it straddles the equator. Its area is 103,930 sq. mi (269,178 sq. km), making it the smallest of the Andean countries. Its eastern and western lowlands regions are divided by the Andes Mountains, which run through the center of the country. This part of the Andes contains an extremely active volcano region; the world's highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, which reaches an altitude of 19,347 ft (5,897 m), is found here. The western lowlands on the coast contain a tropical rain forest in the north, but become extremely dry in the south. The eastern lowlands are part of the Amazon basin, and are largely covered by tropical rainforest. The rivers Putumayo, Napo, and Pastaza flow through this area.
Ecuador also owns the famous Galapagos Islands, which lie about 650 mi (1,040 km) off the coast. These 12 islands are all volcanic in origin, and several of the volcanoes are still active. The islands are the home of many species unique to the world, including perhaps the most well-known of their numbers, the Galapagos tortoise.
Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Adam Smith Biography to Spectroscopic binarySouth America - The Highlands And Plateaus, The Andes, The Amazon Basin, The Climate, Venezuela, Ecuador - The continent, The countries, Uruguay