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The countries lie entirely within the Tropics and the climate is tropical but is profoundly modified by the great altitudes of the mountains. The coastal plain is well watered in northern Ecuador but is one of the driest deserts in the world in Peru. The Eastern slope is moist and in many places is covered with tropical rain forest. In the mountain region the rains are distributed unevenly and there is usually a well marked rainy and dry season. Further details will be considered under each country.
The coastal plain is a rich agricultural country with a high rainfall in the northern part which is similar to the Colombian plain to the north. The rainfall decreases toward the south, especially in the vicinity of the coast. Around Salinas, at the point of land west of Guayaquil, arid conditions prevail, though further inland the rainfall is sufficient for crops. Toward the Peruvian border the aridity increases rapidly and soon desert conditions prevail as indicated below under Peru.
The Cordillera consists of two main chains with several cross ridges and valleys between. Tulcan, Ibarra, Quito, Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, and Loja, the important cities of the mountains, are all in valleys or depressions and the connecting roads pass over ridges. The valleys are from 7000 to 10000 feet altitude, while the eastern and western main chains rise to several thousand feet higher. The Cordillera above tree line is usually called the Sierra. Several peaks rise to such heights that they are permanently snowcapped. Of these Chimborazo and Cotopaxi are the
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