Ecuador is a little (compared to its neighbors, that is; it's actually larger than Britain) country in South America. As you can probably guess, the Equator goes right through the country. It is one of the two countries in the continent that doesnt share a border with Brazil, the other one being Chile.
Originally home of many different civilizations, the territory fell to the Incan Empire in the fifteenth century; however, they were eventually conquered by the Spanish empire. Fun fact: the majority of the native peoples in Ecuador were originally from Bolivia, and vice-versa; Tahuatinsuyu had a policy of swapping around native peoples during their rule. During their time in the region, Ecuador was just a little backwater region, with marginal development; however, the first seeds of independence, although fruitless, had its roots here.
In 1822 the country achieved independence and, in a rush of regional fervor, joined the Republic of Gran Colombia (which included Colombia, Panama (at that time part of Colombia) and Venezuela). Some years later they decided the whole unity thing wasnt that interesting and declared themselves independent once again.
Since then, the country passed through the same things as almost all their neighbors: economical ups-and-downs, military coups, intervention from external powers and border skirmishes. The fact that they were the second producer of oil in the region only helped the facts. In The '80s the country got back the democracy and has been growing since then, but it still has economical problems, especially with the poverty and the growing influence of indigenous people.
In 2010, an attempted coup ensued, the development of which was worthy of a Hollywood script (complete with the president as hostage, shootouts and a daring rescue mission). Some groups, however, see the whole thing as an exaggeration of the President Rafael Correa to help him win popular sympathy and the following elections. Somehow, that makes it even more worthy of Hollywood.
Ecuador has a huge biodiversity, regardless of its size, having a seashore, highlands and a rainforest, all of them containing lots of species, many of them unique to their environments. The Galápagos Islands, famous for giving Darwin his idea for the theory of evolution, belong to the country as well. The Mount Chimborazo (actually an inactive volcano), in the Andes mountain range, is considered the most distant point from the center of the Earth.
In spite of having split from Colombia, the relations between the countries have been nice (there was an impasse a couple of years ago that involved the FARC and Venezuela, but it was resolved peacefully). However, not the same can be said about the relations with Peru. When Ecuador was part of Gran Colombia, it fought a war with Peru between 1828 and 1829 that ended on a stalemate; however, during this Ecuador had the support of all Gran Colombia. Both countries were neutral during most part of World War II, but that didnt mean they didnt see war in the meantime; the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War was fought in 1941, with Peru victorious. The disputed territory (where most of the oil was) still gave enough controversy to trigger two wars more: the Paquisha War in 1981 (sometimes called Paquisha Incident, because of the small profile of the conflict) and the Cenepa War in 1995. Since then, both countries have had a civil relationship.
The Ecuadorian flag