Unmatched by any country of its size, Ecuador’s considerable biodiversity includes more than 25,000 plant species, or ten percent of the world total, compared to around 17,000 for all of North America. Its 1600 types of birds are about twice as many as all of Europe, and half the total for all South America. The country also holds more species of mammals and amphibians per square metre than any other country on Earth.
This extraordinary concentration of wildlife is largely due to Ecuador’s unique geography, its position on the equator and the geologically recent appearance of Andean cordilleras, which divide the coastal and Amazonian basins and provide an array of habitats and isolated areas for the evolution of new species. The country’s highly varied terrain encompasses Andean mountains, parched semi-desert scrub, chilly high-altitude grasslands, subtropical cloudforests, tropical rainforests, dry forests, mangrove swamps, warm Pacific beaches and the unique environment of the Galápagos Islands.