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Ecuador, a nation on the west coast of South America, straddles the Amazonian lowlands, the Andes, a humid coastal plain, and the Galapagos Islands. The population of about 12 million (2001 census) is well along in its demographic transition, with low and declining death rates and declining birth rates. Approximately 1.5 million migrants overseas (especially New York and Spain) provide an important support for the country's economy through their remittances. Almost all of the population identifies as Mestizo, with small but important indigenous and Afro–Latin American minorities. Almost half the population lives in or near the three main cities, Quito (the capital), Guayaquil (the largest city and main port), and Cuenca (most important city in the southern highlands).

Agriculture has been practiced in the highlands for ...

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