ECUADOR


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Located in the north-west of South America, Ecuador is bordered by Colombia to the North and Northeast, and Peru to the south and Southeast. The Pacific Ocean is Ecuador's western border. The Galapagos Islands lie roughly 1000 kilometres off the coast of the Ecuadorian mainland and are part of the territory.

Quito is the capital of Ecuador. It is 283 561 square kilometres wide and has a population of more than 12 millions inhabitants.

Ecuador is geographically divided into four areas.

- Amazonia
- The Highlands
- The Coast
- The Galapagos Islands


Ecuador is a country with a lot of contrasts. With a rich cultural and natural patrimony, Ecuador offers some of the world's most impressive destination.

Despite its tiny size, Ecuador offers a very diversified landscapes with a variety of ecosystems.

- The Andean fauna on the continent ( llamas, guanacos)
- The endemic and protected fauna on the Galapagos Islands ( blue footed booby, tortoises, iguanas, albatross...)

We can't describe Ecuador without alluding to its people kindness.


Geography

Ecuador is geographically divided into four regions. The Costa which covers the quarter of the country area, it is one of the most fertile and rich regions of the country; the Sierra which consists of two major chains of high and massive mountains shutting in plateaus; the Oriente or oriental jungle covers half of the territory and is formed by sloping sides located in the East of the Andes. The Galapagos Islands are made up of 6 major islands and 12 smaller islands among which many are volcanic but extinct ones. The Sierra is located between two chains in the Andes mountains: the Occidental Cordillera (with the highest mountain of the country: Mount Chimborazo which reaches its peak at 6310m) and the Oriental Cordillera. The Sierra contains more than a dozen of volcanoes with an altitude superior to 5000m. The highest and most active volcano in the world is Cotopaxi, which reaches 5,897 meters.

Due to geographic differences in altitude Ecuador has different climates though the country is located on the Equator line. The Costa is usually hot and rainy, with an average coastal temperature around 26°C. In the Sierra, the temperature oscillates between 7 and 21 degrees centigrade. Quito, which is located 2850 meters above the sea level, has an average temperature around 13°C. The Oriente is hotter and rainier than the Costa : the temperature approximates 38°C.

Thanks to the various animal species, the Galapagos Islands Archipel is a natural reserve.



Society


Ecuador has a population of 12 million inhabitants. 80% of them are Amerindian and half-caste. 10% are white - especially Spanish- and 10% are black people. Half of the Ecuadorians live on the coast and approximately 46% live in the Sierra.
Ecuador is split into 20 provinces which, in turn, are split into cantons, and into rural and urban communes

The capital Quito is located in the north of the Andes. Guayaquil is located in the southwest : it is a shopping and financial centre and the main port of the country. There are two important cities: Cuenca which is a tourist, industrial, and shopping centre and Malacha which is a farming, commercial and a port city.

The official language of Ecuador is Spanish. Many Amerindian people of rural regions speak also Quechua, a native language of the Inca Empire.



Politics

According to Ecuador's 1978 Constitution, the President of the Republic presides over the executive branch. He is elected for a 4-year term by popular vote, The President appoints the governors of the provinces. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. A national congress presides over the legislative branch. The chamber is composed by 72 members (65 are elected at a provincial level every two years and 12 are elected at a national level every 4 years.)

The Republic of Ecuador is characterized by numerous political parties: the Social Christian Party, the Republican Union Party, the Conservative Party, the Democratic Left Party, the Popular Democracy Party, the Ecuadorian Socialist Party and the Communist Party.



Economy

The Ecuadorian economy has historically been dominated by the agricultural sector. The economy underwent a significant structural transformation in the 70's when new discoveries made oil Ecuador's most important export commodity in particular thanks to the trans-Andean pipeline which offers a link between oilfield and the Esmeraldas port.

Bananas have been the main commercial crop of this region and represent an important part of the exports. Sugar canes, manioc, corn, rice, potatoes, coffee, cocoa and lemon cultivations are also very important.

Ecuador is one of the first worldwide producers of balsa. Other important products of these forests are the mangrove bark and the rubber.

Waters of the Galápagos Islands represent one of the richest fishing area in the world. We can find tuna fish and prawns. Inshore coast off the continent are full of fishes.

Other mineral resources are also exported such as gold, silver, lead, natural gas, zinc, but oil remains the economic force of the country. In 1994, the oil production represented 18.8 million tonnes.

The national monetary denomination is the "Sucre" named for Field Marshall Antonio José de Sucre, the hero of the independence.



History

Architectural vestiges of the ancient civilizations such as potteries, sculptures, dating from 3000 years before J-Christ were discovered in Ecuador. Different Amerindian groups living in the territory became part of the Incas Empire stretching from Cuzco to the kingdom of Quito in the XV century.

Spanish arrived for the first time on the coasts of Ecuador at the beginning of the XVI century, the weakness of the Incan power facilitated the Spanish Conquest. The conquerors under the authority of Francisco Pizarro invaded the country in 1532; two years later, they took possession of the region which was called the Kingdom of Quito.

Ecuador or The hearing of Quito was first a territory placed under the authority of Peru (Lima). It was transferred from 1717 to 1723 to the viceroyalty of New Granada whose centre was in Bogotá. Then it was ruled by Lima until 1739 and then retransferred to New Granada.

However, the first ideas of independence began to be spread. The first Ecuadorian struggle against Spain occurred in the XIX century. The Armed Forces managed by General Antonio José de Sucre, Lieutenant in Chief of Simon Bolivar, defeated Spanish in 1822. The region became part of the Federation of Colombia or Gran Colombia, managed by Bolivar, which also included Venezuela, Panama and Colombia.

In 1830, the country took its independence and was called Republic of Ecuador. The first president was Juan José Flores, hero of the independence war who tried to organize the country. But the domestic policy was eventful : from 1830 to 1848, there were 62 military, presidential or dictatorial governments. The power alternated between the Conservative parties and the Liberal parties.

Gabriel Garcia Moreno, president between 1860 and 1875 and Eloy Alfaro, a radical liberal who governed the country during two mandates were key figures in the history.

In 1948, Ecuador signed the Charter of the Organization of the American states. A border conflict with Peru, which started in 1941 was a great event in the foreign policy of Ecuador. At this period, Peru occupied the south of the Amazon region. The war ended by a treaty in 1942, which awarded Peru half of the Ecuador territory and almost the totality of the Amazon forest. The conflict started again in 1950 and in 1960.

In 1952, Velazco Ibarra was elected president again. He ruled the country for the third time between 1952 and 1956, then between 1960 and 1961. During his mandate he instituted a great works policy.
Those who succeeded to Velazco Ibarra were principally militaries often unable to improve the difficult economic situation.

During the first elections, which have been reorganised after the military power, Velazco Ibarra was elected president again in June 1968. He introduced a more dictatorial approach. However, in February 1972, General Guillermo Rodriguez Lara, removed Velasco Ibarra once more by a coup.

The 1970´s brought economic prosperity thanks to Ecuadorian oilfields. The country became after Venezuela the second exporter of oil in Latin America. The oil boom revenues gave the country the foreign currencies and the investment funds he needed, but they increased inflation and social disparities.

In a 1978 referendum, the people of Ecuador opted for a new Constitution and elections were held the same year to elect a new President. Jaime Roldós Aguilera was elected in 1979 and the new constitution came into effect. Concerning the foreign policy, a border armed conflict started with Peru and ended in March 1981 with an international arbitration.

In May 1984, Leon Febres Cordero Rivadeneira became president. He introduced free market ideas. But the government had to cope with some difficulties such as military rebellions ; a major one occurred in January 1987.

In 1992, Sixto Duran Bellen reached the presidency. New border conflicts with Peru started, they became more important when violent conflicts began with the armed forces of each country. The territory in war covered 340m2. Conflicts occurred at the beginning of January. A cease fire was signed in March thanks to the initiative of Brasil, Chile, Argentina and the United States in order to allow peaceful negotiations. A demilitarisation area was created but some tensions are still persisting today. During his presidency, Sixto Duran Ballen introduced a law for land development; and the economic situation improved thanks to the stability of economic growth.

Abdala Bucaram Ortiz was elected president in July 1996. He adopted an austerity program, which involved an increase of the prices. On February the 5th 1997, organized labor went on strike and two days later, because of the Ecuadorian people pressure, the Parliament dismissed Bucaram for "mental and physical incapacity". Fabian Alarcon was elected "interim president" and the vice- president Rosalia Arteaga proclaimed herself president.

The chiefs of the Armed Forces set up negotiations between the two parties and the Congress approved the compromise, which allowed the presidency of Rosalia Arteaga for a few days. On February 11th, Fabian Alarcon was elected "interim president" for eighteen months during an extraordinary session of the Congress.

 


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