Ecuador is the smallest of the Andean countries, about the size of Switzerland. The Pacific coast, the Andean highlands and the Amazon Basin, are all packed into a very small surface area. The Galapagos Islands, the fourth natural region is located in front of the country, in the Pacific Ocean.
Ecuador is one of the most cultural and environmental diverse countries in the world. In the cultural, Ecuador has two main cultures, the Hispanic and the Indian cultures. Especially in the mountain range, with its impressive landscapes, indigenous populations exist with their own markets, language, and traditions. Although the national language is Spanish, Quechua and other indigenous languages are spoken widely and form an important part of the country's heritage. The Ecuadorian songs and dances have also been influenced by the two main cultures. In the environmental, Ecuador has contributed notably to the environmental sciences. The first scientific expedition to explore the Amazon basin, led by Charles-Marie de La Condamine, departed from Ecuador; the renowned naturalists Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin used Ecuadorian research to help establish basic theories of modern geography, ecology, and evolutionary biology.
Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and it is the second highest capital in the world at an elevation of 2850 meters. (La Paz, Bolivia is the highest at over 12,000 ft). Quito is one of the most beautiful cities in South America. Other important cities are Guayaquil, situated in the south by the coast and Cuenca, also situated in south central Ecuador.