Ecuador is located on the northwestern coast of South America, between Peru to the south and east and Colombia to the north. The famous Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador, and are located approximately 1,000 kilometers off the coast. Ecuador covers 256,370 square kilometers of land and is the smallest country in South America after Uruguay and the Guianas.
Ecuador is one of 18 megadiverse countries in the world according to Conservation International. With 1,600 bird species (15% of the world's known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more endemic to the Galápagos. In addition to 25,000 species of plants, the country has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly. The Galápagos Islands are well known as a region of distinct fauna, famous as the place of birth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ecuador's capital is Quito, which is in the province of Pichincha in the Sierra region. Its largest city is Guayaquil, in the Guayas Province. Cotopaxi, which is just south of Quito, features one of the world's highest active volcanoes. The top of Mount Chimborazo (6,310-m above sea level) is considered to be the most distant point from the center of the earth, given the ovoidal shape of the planet (wider at the equator).