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* Ecuador, about the size of Colorado, is on the Pacific coast of South America. It is blessed with the Andes Mountains, rain forests, a hot coast, and the Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador's population, close to 11 million, is increasing 2.6 percent a year. About 52 percent live in urban areas. Estimates of the percentage of indigenous people range from 15 to 40 percent. Annual per-capita income is $1,110. In 1985, the government estimated a housing shortage of 840,000 homes.

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Ecuador has democratic elections but an unruly political system with plenty of corruption. Drug trafficking has not been a major problem.

Under President Sixto Duran-Ballen, inflation is running at 50 percent a year. Foreign debt is close to $12 billion. Mr. Duran-Ballen advocates privatization of national companies and utilities.

Ecuador's Amazon Basin has the greatest number of plant species of any South American country. The Sierra highlands have been almost completely deforested. If destruction of rain forests continues at the current annual rate of around 2.6 percent, the forest cover will be gone in 40 years.

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