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Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, about west of the mainland.
Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name, its capital city is Quito, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic centre in Latin America. The country's largest city is Guayaquil. The historic centre of Cuenca, Ecuador, the third largest city in the country, was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, for being an outstanding example of a planned inland Spanish style colonial city in the Americas. Ecuador is also hom despite its size to a great variety of species, like those of the Galapagos islands. This species diversity makes Ecuador one of the seventeen megadiverse countries in the world.