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Ecuador
   COAST ...
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 THE COAST [LA COSTA]
Though better known for its Andean Mountains, Amazonian rainforest and the unique Galapagos Islands, Ecuador has a long, varied and fascinating coastline that until recently was underrated. Stretching some 1,500 km [937 miles] from the border of Colombia to Peru in the south, the Pacific coast embraces long expanses of deserted beaches, with warm swimming waters, busy fishing villages, luxury vacation resorts, ecolodges, mangrove swamps, steamy ports, surfing beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and environmentally damaging shrimp farms.

The road building projects along the coast were only recently completed, having been severely delayed by the impact of El Nino in 1997-8. The roads have opened up much of the coast, making it far more accessible. A coastal road to the northern border is now finished, bringing increasing numbers of Colombian tourists. In one sense, now is the time to visit the unspoiled Ecuadorian coastline, while it is still relatively undeveloped. On the other hand, development is bringing with it badly needed infrastructure, accessibility and tourist facilities.

Though it has no precise inland demarcation, Ecuador’s coastal region generates the major part of the country’s industrial and agricultural wealth, and is home to roughly half its population. Coastal farmers, called Montuvios, are usually mixed-race, black and Indian, or negros de monte, “blacks of the mountain". But no love is lost between the coast and the sierra. Coastal people call those from the sierra burros [donkeys], while serranos say people from the costa are monos [monkeys]. Whatever these differences, many agree that La Costa is a state of being, a state of mind and a place where people like to party and stay out late. Certainly it is where Ecuadorian vacationers go to relax and have fun.
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