Straddling the equator in western South America, Ecuador has territories in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. It borders Colombia to the north and shares a border with Peru to the south and to the east. The Pacific Ocean is Ecuador's western border. Ecuador, 256,370 square kilometers in size, is geographically divided into four regions (the Amazon, the Highlands, the Coast, and the Galapagos Islands) and is politically split into 24 provinces. The coastal provinces (from north to south) are Esmeraldas, Manabí, Los Ríos, Guayas, El Oro, and Santa Elena. Highlands provinces are Imbabura, Pichincha, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Chimborazo, in the north, and Bolívar, Cañar, Azuay and Loja, in the south. The Amazon is comprised of the provinces (from north to south) of Sucumbíos, Napo, Pastaza, Orellana, Morona-Santiago and Zamora-Chinchipe. Ecuador's 22nd province the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador is one of the planet's 17 most biologically diverse nations. The nation's drastic geographic and climatic variations have led to the evolution of thousands of species of flora and fauna, most of which thrive in habitats protected by the State and by private organizations. Despite its tiny size, Ecuador is home to rain forests, jungles, mountains, islands, deserts, valleys, and snowcapped peaks. One of the main attractions is the Galapagos Archipelago and its marine reserve, which contain endemic species unique to the area.