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Ecuador’s soils are among the most varied on Earth.
Volcanic activity at higher elevations in the Andes has resulted in the formation of fertile volcanic and prairie soils, called andosols and mollisols, with dark surface layers rich in organic matter.
The first scientific expedition to measure the circumference of the Earth, led by Charles-Marie de La Condamine of France, was based in Ecuador; and research in Ecuador by the renowned naturalists Alexander von Humboldt of Prussia and Charles Darwin of England helped establish basic theories of modern geography, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Much of what is now Ecuador came to be included in the Inca empire, the largest political unit of pre-Columbian America.
Panama hats (straw hats so named because they were shipped to Panama in the mid-18th century and bought by traveling gold seekers and because they were worn by Panama Canal work crews in the early 19th century) and agricultural products, notably cacao (the source of cocoa beans), bananas, and flowers.
Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! Ecuador is one of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world, and it has contributed notably to the environmental sciences.Ecuador is unusual among Latin American countries in having two major centres of population and commerce, the vibrant port city of Guayaquil acting as a counterbalance to the capital, Quito, located in the Andean highlands in the north-central part of the country. Situated on the Equator, from which its name derives, it borders Colombia to the north, Peru to the east and the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.