Ecuador (/ˈɛkwədɔːr/ (About this soundlisten) EK-wə-dor; Spanish pronunciation: [ekwaˈðoɾ] (About this soundlisten); Quechua: Ikwayur; Shuar: Ecuador or Ekuatur), officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador, which literally translates as “Republic of the Equator”; Quechua: Ikwadur Ripuwlika; Shuar: Ekuatur Nunka), is a country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (621 mi) west of the mainland. The capital is Quito.
Quito (/ˈkiːtoʊ/; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkito] (About this soundlisten); Quechua: Kitu; formally Saint Francis of Quito) is the capital of Ecuador, the country’s most populous city and at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level, it is the second highest official capital city in the world, and the closest to the equator. It is located in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains.
In 2008, the city was designated as the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations.
The historic centre of Quito is one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved in the Americas. Quito and Kraków, Poland, were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO, in 1978. The central square of Quito is located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the equator; the city itself extends to within about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of zero latitude. A monument and museum marking the general location of the equator is known locally as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the world), to avoid confusion, as the word Ecuador is Spanish for equator.