OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Ecuador
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 283,561 Sq Km (109,484 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 12,679,700
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Ecuador is located on the northwest
coast of South America. It is bound by Colombia to the north,
Peru to the east and south as well as the Pacific Ocean
to the west. The country can be divided into four topographical
regions. (1.) The coastal plain or Costa which descends
from the Andes Mountains with rolling hills in the north,
to a broad lowland basin that reaches the Pacific Ocean.
The coastal plain is also a rich agricultural belt. (2.)
The Sierra or Andean Highlands which is the central plateau
between the Cordillera Occidental, Cordillera Central and
the Cordillera Oriental Ranges. It rises to the snow capped
mountain peaks and has 22 massive volcanoes, of which the
highest are the Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Antisana
and Sangay. The Sierra is subject to occasional and severe
earthquakes. (3.) The Oriente which is flat, consists of
gentle undulating alluvial plains that are covered with
tropical rain forests. Rivers dissect the Oriente flowing
down from the Andes towards the Amazon River Basin. (4.)
The Galapagos Islands, a barren region, comprising six major
islands and many smaller ones. The islands are volcanic
in origin and are chiefly basaltic lava flows. Major Cities
(pop. est.); Guayaguil 1,508,800, Quito 1,100,800, Cuenca
195,000, Machala 144,200, Portoviejo 133,000 (1990). Land
Use; forested 56%, pastures 18%, agricultural-cultivated
11%, other 15% (1993).
CLIMATE: Ecuador has a tropical climate which is hot and humid.
The Costa has a heavy wet season from December to April, although rainfall
occurs throughout the year. Temperatures are reduced by altitude in the
Sierra with warm days and chilly nights as well as frequent heavy rain
in the afternoons. The Oriente has a wet and hot equatorial climate with
rainfall throughout the year. Average temperature ranges in Quito are from
8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) to 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees
Fahrenheit) all year.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the AmerIndians who
account for around 50% of the population, followed by the Mestizos who
are of mixed AmerIndian and Spanish descent, account for around 40% while
Whites or pure Spanish account for around 9% of the population. Other ethnic
minorities include Asians, Black Africans, British, Irish, French, Germans
and Lebanese. Around 700 tribes represent the AmerIndian population, of
which the largest groups are the Otavalos, Salasacas, Saraguros, Colorados,
Cayapas, Jivaros, Aucas, Yumbos, Zaparos and Cofan.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 41 persons per sq km (107
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 55.1% urban, 44.9% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.8% male, 50.2% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
63.4 years male, 67.6 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 41% under 15,
28% 15 to 29, 16% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 64, 4% 65 and over (1988). Birth
Rate; 32.9 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 7.4 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 25.5 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 51.7 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with around 94% of the population
Roman Catholic while 2% are Protestant and the remainder following local
native tribal beliefs.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Spanish which is spoken by
around 93% of the population and there are three distinct dialects that
follow the topographical divisions of the Costa, the Sierra and the Oriente.
Nearly 6% of the population speak Quechua, mainly the AmerIndians.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
25.4%, incomplete primary 17.0%, primary 34.1%, incomplete secondary 8.1%,
secondary 7.9%, higher 7.6% (1982). Literacy; literate population aged
15 or over 3,914,694 or 69.1% (1982).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Between 1931 and 1948 twenty one
governments held temporary office. This period was politically dominated
by Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra who became President five times. In 1947 the
military overthrew Velasco's government and 12 more years of liberal government
was sustained by a boom in the export of coffee and bananas. In 1960 Velasco
was reelected President and in 1962 was ousted. Carlos Julio Arosemena
replaced Velasco, both of which attempted to present themselves as left
wing reformers. In 1963 the military overthrew Arosemena and suspended
the constitution in order to prevent a communist takeover. A military Junta
embarked on land and tax reforms, and remained in power until 1966 when
the people demanded an end to military rule. In 1968 Velasco was again
reelected as President and in 1970 suspended the constitution, dissolved
the Congress and began to govern as dictator. Military leaders overthrew
Velasco in 1972 and Rodriguez Lara took power and began to rule as dictator.
In 1976 the military removed Rodriguez Lara from office and took control
of the government. In 1979 elections were held to establish a new civilian
government and were won by Jaime Roldos who led a new reformist coalition
government. Roldos died in a plane crash in 1981 and Osvaldo Hurtado replaced
him. Hurtado introduced an austerity program to combat high inflation as
well as the country's foreign debt, which resulted in large scale social
unrest. In May 1988 Rodrigo Borja Cevallo was elected President, announcing
emergency economic measures which led to general strikes organized by trade
unions in Nov. 1988 and July 1989. In July 1990 Pres. Borja met US Pres.
George Bush and agreed to open the economy further, endorsing a proposal
that Latin America should join the US in a free-trade block. In Feb. 1991
the guerrilla group, Alfaro Vive Carajo laid down its arms and began recruiting
100,000 members so it could become officially recognized as a political
party. In Sept. 1991 there were clashes between students and police over
increases in petrol prices that resulted in the resignation of the energy
minister. Also during 1991 there was hot debate over the issue of oil development
in the Amazon basin and the rights of AmerIndian peoples with allegation
of US pressure from oil companies. In May and July 1992 presidential elections
were won by Sixto Duran Ballen, who was inaugurated on Aug. 10, 1992. In
Sept. 1992 Pres. Duran announced a 26% devaluation in the Sucre and eliminated
energy subsidies, that increased petrol prices by 300%. In late Sept. 1992
the United Workers Front organized a national strike in protest, while
elsewhere in the country looting and unrest resulted. In Nov. 1992 Ecuador
withdrew from the 13-member oil cartel OPEC. In Jan. 1993 public and private
sector workers received a 30% wage increase, although strikes, lockouts
and protests continued across the country. In Mar. 1993 a massive landslide
cause the nation's worst ever natural disaster with some hundred deaths
and an estimated damages in excess of $100 million. Also in March, government
announced plans to privatise social security, resulted in the trade unions
organizing further mass demonstrations, although the Congress approved
a privatization law in Oct. 1993. In Aug. 1993 the army commenced a human
rights program with some 6,000 officers and troops training in human rights,
democratic values and regional security. Also in 1993 Pres. Duran continued
to face union opposition to his economic policies with inflation for 1992
running at 60.2%.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the United States Dollar (USD)
divided into 100 Cents.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $13,217,000,000 (1993).
Public Debt; USD $9,935,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $2,552,700,000 (1993).
Exports; USD $2,960,600,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $230,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; USD $508,000,000 (1994). Economically Active
Population; 3,359,767 or 34.8% of total population (1990). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
Japan, Latin America, CARICOM countries and Germany.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cassava, Cocoa, Coffee, Crude Oil
and Natural Gas, Fish, Gold, Limestone, Livestock, Maize, Oranges, Potatoes,
Rice, Sugar Cane, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Crude Oil Production and
Refining, Food Processing, Petrochemicals, Textiles, Wood Products.
MAIN EXPORTS: Bananas, Cocoa, Coffee, Crude Oil, Processed Fish.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 965 km (600 mi) (1988), passenger-km
63,300,000 (39,333,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km 8,180,000 (5,602,000
short ton-mi) (1988). Roads; length 37,636 km (25,777 mi) (1988). Vehicles;
cars 272,282 (1987), trucks and buses 41,231 (1987). Merchant Marine; vessels
158 (1990), deadweight tonnage 523,169 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km
979,000,000 (608,322,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km 60,041,000
(41,122,000 short ton-mi) (1989).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 36 with a total circulation
of 688,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 3,240,000 (1994). Television; receivers
900,000 (1994). Telephones; units 598,300 (1993).
MILITARY: 57,500 (1994) total active duty personnel with 87.0%
army, 7.8% navy and 5.2% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.1% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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