Nature and a Metropolis | The Plan
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Nature and a Metropolis

Once the second largest city of the Incan Empire, Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is the country’s second-largest city, with more than two milion inhabitants, around 15% of the country's population. The old center, the largest and best preserved in Latin America, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The country’s capital is at the Mitad del Mundo, straddling the two hemispheres, a fact celebrated by the recently built museum designed by Diego Guayasamin. Although not more than 8 km wide, the city stretches lengthways some 70 km. In fact, the new subway line now under construction is criticized for being too short, only reaching out half the length of the urban fabric. Even then, however, it will be one of the longest city subway tracks of any city in the world. Quito’s urban footprint, the so-called Metropolitan District of Quito (MDQ) occupies 43,000 ha, some 11.5% of the country's surface area. Ecuador itself boasts incredibly vast biodiversity, with the country reaching across altitudes from 500 to 4,780 m above sea level. As well as 500 bird species, there are 20,000 ha of natural forest and 640 ha of water bodies. Around 80% of Quito's population lives in the 32 administrative parroquias of the metropolitan area, most of them standing at 2,800 m, the most amenable altitude in terms of climate: not too cold, like the higher reaches of the volcanic mountains surrounding the city, nor too hot, like the valleys descending to the coast on one side, or towards Napo Province, Ecuador's Amazon region, on the other. Like many South American cities, Quito has witnessed tumultuous demographic growth in recent decades. While the churches, convents and stately buildings of the historic center have been well preserved, development has been less orderly and controlled around the Panecillo, the enormous hill rising up in the middle of the city. Here, the statue of the Virgin seems to stand almost in defiance across the way...

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