This small South American country was named Ecuador for a good reason. The equator crosses it. And the Spanish word for equator is ecuador.
   The people of Ecuador speak Spanish. Some of them have only Spanish ancestors. But most people there are either Indian or part Spanish and part Indian. More than 400 years ago, Spaniards conquered the Indians living there. Spain ruled the land for about 300 years. But since 1830 Ecuador has been a free republic. It is as large as Florida and Georgia together. Between 14.5 and 15.5 million people live in Ecuador.
   The Andes Mountains run north and south through Ecuador. They are very high here. The land between them and the Pa­cific coast is low, wet, and always hot. So is the land east of them. And the mountains shut off eastern Ecuador from the coast.
   About three-fourths of Ecuador's people live in its mountains. Nearly all the rest of the population live in the coastal lowland. Important crops in the mountain valleys are wheat and potatoes. Quito, the capital, is a highland city very near the equator. Even though it is near the equator, every day there is like a cool spring day.
   Before Ecuador had railroads and airlines, its highland people were much shut off from the rest of the world. There were only mule and llama trains to carry loads between the high land and the low coast. Such travel was slow and hard.
   Most things that Ecuador sells to other countries come from its coastal lowland. From forests there come vegetable ivory, kapok, and balsa wood. Sugar cane, ba­nanas, coffee, and cacao are raised on plan­tations. From cacao beans, chocolate is made. Hats made in Ecuador from leaves of jipijapa palms, and called Panama hats, are worn in many lands.