Checked content


Related subjects: Americas; Countries

Background to the schools Wikipedia

The articles in this Schools selection have been arranged by curriculum topic thanks to SOS Children volunteers. SOS Child sponsorship is cool!

Republic of Ecuador
República del Ecuador
Flag Coat of arms
  • "Dios, patria y libertad" (Spanish)
  • "Pro Deo, Patria et Libertate" (Latin)
  • "God, homeland and freedom"
Anthem:  Salve, Oh Patria  (Spanish)
Hail, Oh Homeland
Capital Quito
00°9′S 78°21′W
Largest city Guayaquil
Official languages Spanish
Ethnic groups ()
  • 71.9% Mestizo
  • 7.4% Montubio
  • 7.2% Afroecuadorian
  • 7.0% Amerindian
  • 6.1% White
  • 0.4% others
Demonym Ecuadorian
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
 -  President Rafael Correa
 -  Vice President Lenín Moreno
Legislature National Assembly
 -  Declared August 10, 1809 
 -  from Spain May 24, 1822 
 -  from Gran Colombia May 13, 1830 
 -  Recognized February 16, 1830 
 -  Total 258,238a km2 ( 75th)
99,706 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 5
 -  2011 estimate 15,223,680 ( 65th)
 -  2010 census 14,483,499
 -  Density 58.95/km2 ( 151st)
152.69/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $153.239 billion
 -  Per capita $10,055
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $80.927 billion ( 69)
 -  Per capita $5,310
Gini (2009) positive decrease 49
HDI (2011) Increase 0.720
high · 83rd
Currency United States dollarb ( USD)
Time zone ECT / GALT ( UTC−5 / −6)
Drives on the right
Calling code +593
ISO 3166 code EC
Internet TLD .ec
a. Including Galápagos.
b. Sucre until 2000, replaced by the US$ and Ecuadorian centavo coins.

Ecuador ( / ˈ ɛ k w ə d ɔr / E-kwə-dawr), officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador [reˈpuβlika ðel ekwaˈðor], which literally translates as "Republic of the Equator") is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It and Chile are the only two countries in South America that do not have a border with Brazil. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland.

The main spoken language in Ecuador is Spanish (94% of the population). Languages of official use in native communities include Quichua, Shuar, and 11 other languages. Ecuador has an area of 258,238 km2 (99,706 sq mi). Its capital city is Quito, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic centre in Latin America. The country's largest city is Guayaquil. The historic centre of Cuenca, the third largest city in the country in size and economically, was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, for being an outstanding example of a planned inland Spanish style colonial city in the Americas. Ecuador is also home to a great variety of species, many of them endemic, like those of the Galápagos islands. This species diversity makes Ecuador one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. The new constitution of 2008 is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights.

Ecuador is a presidential republic and became independent in 1830, after having been part of the Spanish colonial empire, and for a much shorter time of the republic of Gran Colombia. It is a medium-income country with an HDI score of 0.720 (2011).


Pre-Inca Era

Ingapirca ruins northeast of Cañar canton, Cañar Province

Before the arrival of the Incas, a variety of different families of Native American peoples settled in Ecuador, who had different languages due to the fact they came from different places. Some sailed to Ecuador on rafts from Central America, others came to Ecuador via the Amazon tributaries, others descended from northern South America, while others ascended from the southern part of South America through the Andes or by sailing on rafts.

Eventually these groups developed similar cultures because they lived in the same environment even though their languages were unrelated. The people of the coast developed a fishing, hunting, and gathering culture; the people of the highland Andes developed a sedentary agricultural way of life, and the people of the Amazon basin developed a nomadic hunting and gathering way of life.

Over time these groups began to interact and intermingle with each other so that groups of families in one area became one community or tribe with a similar language and culture. Many civilizations rose throughout Ecuador, such as the Valdivia Culture and Machalilla Culture on the coast, the Quitus (near present day Quito) and the Cañari (near present day Cuenca). Each civilization developed its own distinctive architecture, pottery, and religious interests.

In the highland Andes mountains, where life was more sedentary, groups of tribes decided to co-operate and form villages; thus the first nations based on agricultural resources and the domestication of animals were formed. Eventually, through wars and marriage alliances of their leaders, a group of nations formed confederations. One region was consolidated under a confederation called the Shyris which exercised organized trading and bartering between the different regions and whose political and military power was under the rule of the Duchicela blood line.

Inca Era

One of the main events in the conquest of the Incan Empire was the death of Atahualpa, the last Sapa Inca on 29 August 1533

When the Incas arrived they found that these confederations were so developed, that it took the Incas two generations of rulers – Topa Inca Yupanqui and Huayna Capac – to absorb these confederations into the Inca Empire. The native confederations that gave them the most problem were deported to far away areas of Peru and Bolivia, and north Argentina. Similarly, a number of loyal Inca subjects from Peru and Bolivia were deported to Ecuador to prevent rebellion. Thus, the region of highland Ecuador became part of the Inca Empire in 1463 sharing the same language. In contrast, when the Incas made incursions into coastal Ecuador and the eastern amazon jungles of Ecuador, they found both the environment and natives more hostile. Moreover, when the Incas tried to subdue them, these natives withdrew to the interior and resorted to guerrilla tactics. As a result, this hampered any kind of Inca expansion into the Amazon basin and the Pacific coast of Ecuador. The natives of the Amazon jungle and coastal Ecuador remained relatively autonomous until the Spanish soldiers and missionaries arrived. Be that as it may, the Amazonian natives and the Cayapas of Coastal Ecuador were the only groups to resist Inca and Spanish domination, maintaining their language and culture well into the 21st century.

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Inca Empire was involved in a civil war. The untimely death of both the heir Ninan Cuchi and the Emperor Huayna Capac from a European disease that spread into Ecuador, created a power vacuum between two factions. The northern faction headed by Atahualpa claims that Huayna Capac before his death gave a verbal decree about how the empire should be divided. He gave the territories pertaining to present day Ecuador and northern Peru to his favorite son Atahualpa, who was to rule from Quito; and he gave the rest to Huascar who was to rule from Cuzco. He willed that his heart was to be buried in his favourite city Quito and his body to be transported to be buried with his ancestors in Cuzco. Huascar did not recognize his father's will since it did not follow Inca traditions of naming an Inca through the priests. Atahualpa was ordered by Huascar to attend his father's burial in Cuzco and pay homage to him as the new Inca ruler. Atahualpa, with a large number of his father's veteran soldiers, decided to ignore Huascar and a civil war ensued. A number of bloody battles took place until finally Huascar was captured and Atahualpa marched south to Cuzco and massacred the royal family associated with Huascar.

A small band of Spaniards headed by Francisco Pizarro landed in Tumbez and marched over the Andes Mountains until they reached Cajamarca where the new Inca Atahualpa was to hold an interview with them. Valverde the priest tried to convince Atahualpa that he should join the Catholic Church and declare himself a vassal of Spain. This infuriated Atahualpa so much that he threw the Bible to the ground. At this point the enraged Spaniards, with orders from Valverde, attacked and massacred unarmed escorts of the Inca and captured Atahualpa. Pizarro promised to release Atahualpa if he made good his promise of filling a room full of gold. However, after a mock trial, the Spaniards executed Atahualpa by strangulation.


Spanish Historical Centre in Quito
Shipwrights from Francisco de Orellana's expedition building a small brigantine, the San Pedro.

Disease plagued the indigenous population during the first decades of Spanish rule — a time when the natives also were forced into the encomienda labor system for the Spanish. In 1563, Quito became the seat of a real audiencia (administrative district) of Spain and part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, and later the Viceroyalty of New Granada.

After nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Quito was still a small city of only 10,000 inhabitants. It was here, on August 10, 1809, that the first call for independence from Spain was made in Latin America, under the leadership of the city's criollos like Juan Pío Montúfar, Quiroga, Salinas, and Bishop Cuero y Caicedo. Quito's nickname, " Luz de América" ("Light of America"), comes from the fact that this was the first successful attempt to produce an independent and local government. Although it lasted no more than two months, it had important repercussions and was an inspiration for the independence movement of the rest of Spanish America.


The States of Ecuador, Cundinamarca, and Venezuela formed The Republic of Great Colombia.
Antonio José de Sucre

On October 9, 1820, Guayaquil became the first city in Ecuador to gain its independence from Spain. On May 24, 1822, the rest of Ecuador gained its independence after Antonio José de Sucre defeated the Spanish Royalist forces at the Battle of Pichincha, near Quito. Following the battle, Ecuador joined Simón Bolívar's Republic of Gran Colombia – joining with modern day Colombia and Venezuela – only to become a republic in 1830.

The 19th century for Ecuador was marked by instability, with a rapid succession of rulers. The first president of Ecuador was the Venezuelan-born Juan José Flores, who was ultimately deposed, followed by many authoritarian leaders such as Vicente Rocafuerte; José Joaquín de Olmedo; José María Urbina; Diego Noboa; Pedro José de Arteta; Manuel de Ascásubi; and Flores's own son, Antonio Flores Jijón, among others. The conservative Gabriel Garcia Moreno unified the country in the 1860s with the support of the Roman Catholic Church. In the late 19th century, world demand for cocoa tied the economy to commodity exports and led to migrations from the highlands to the agricultural frontier on the coast.

Liberal Revolution

The coast-based Liberal Revolution of 1895 under Eloy Alfaro reduced the power of the clergy and the conservative land owners of the highlands, and this liberal wing retained power until the military "Julian Revolution" of 1925. The 1930s and 1940s were marked by instability and emergence of populist politicians, such as five-time President José María Velasco Ibarra.

Loss of Claimed Territories since 1830

The Gran Colombia showing all Colombian Land Claims in red
Map of Ecuadorian Land Claims after 1916 (Spanish)
South America (1879): All land claims by Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Bolivia in 1879
Ecuadorian troops during the Cenepa War.

Since Ecuador's separation from Colombia in 1830, it had claimed all Amazonian Basin lands between the Caqueta River and the Marañon-Amazon River. Ecuador also had de jure claims to a small piece of land beside the Pacific Ocean known as Tumbez, which lay between the Zarumilla and Tumbez Rivers. In the Andes Mountain range Ecuador had claims to an area of land it called Jaén de Bracamoros, which lay between the border in the Andes Mountains and the Marañon River. Be that as it may, Ecuador during its long and turbulent history had lost most of its claimed territory to each of its more powerful neighbors like Colombia in 1832 and 1916, and Brazil in 1904 through a series of peaceful treaties.

During the struggle for independence, before Peru or Ecuador became an independent nation, a few areas of the former Vice Royalty of New Granada – Guayaquil, Tumbez, and Jaén – declared themselves independent from Spain. A few months later a part of the Peruvian liberation army of San Martin decided to occupy Tumbez and Jaén with the intention of using these towns as springboards to liberate Guayaquil and the rest of the Audiencia de Quito (Ecuador). It was common knowledge among the top officers of the liberation army from the south that their leader San Martin wished to liberate present-day Ecuador and add it to the a future republic of Peru, since it had been part of the Inca Empire before the Spaniards conquered it. However, Bolivar's intention was to form a new republic known as the Gran Colombia, out of the liberated Spanish territory of New Granada which consisted of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. San Martin's plans were thwarted when Bolívar with the help of Marshal Antonio José de Sucre and the Gran Colombian liberation force descended upon the Andes mountains and occupied Guayaquil and annexed the newly liberated Audiencia de Quito to the Republic of Gran Colombia. This happened a few days before San Martin's Peruvian forces could arrive and occupy Guayaquil with the intention of annexing Guayaquil with the rest of Audiencia of Quito (Ecuador) to the future republic of Peru. This can be proved from accounts that repeatedly stated San Martin saying to Bolivar that he came to Guayaquil to liberate the land of the Incas from Spain. Bolivar countered his statement when he sent a message from Guayaquil welcoming San Martin and his troops to Colombian soil.

After the last Spanish royalist troops were defeated in Peru by the liberation armies of Bolivar, some Peruvian Generals without any legal titles backing them up, began occupying Tumbez, Jaén, and Guayaquil in the early 1820s, while Ecuador was still federated with the Gran Colombia. The intention of these Peruvian Generals was to annex Ecuador to the Republic of Peru at the expense of the Gran Colombia. One of these Peruvian Generals was the Ecuadorian born José de La Mar, who became one of Peru's presidents. La Mar, with a Peruvian force, invaded and occupied a few cities in southern Ecuador on November 28, 1828. The Battle of Tarqui on February 27, 1829 was won by Gran Colombia, lead by Antonio José de Sucre. According to the peace negotiations Peru agreed to return Guayaquil, Tumbez, and Jaén and set the border in the eastern Amazon basin as the Marañon and Amazon rivers as the most natural border between Peru and the Gran Colombia. However, Peru returned Guayaquil, but failed to return Tumbez and Jaén after the Gran Colombia divided itself into three different nations – Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela.

After Ecuadors' separation from the Gran Colombian federation of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador in 1830, Ecuador had a brief war with Colombia over the Department of Cauca which was briefly annexed to Ecuador (1830–1832). Ecuador lost this war and agreed to a provisional border which Ecuador claimed ran along the Caqueta River, while Colombia disputed that claiming that the new border ran along the Napo River. While that was going on, Peru began its de facto occupation of disputed Amazonian territories, after it signed a secret 1853 peace treaty in favour of Brazil. This treaty disregarded Spanish rights that were confirmed during colonial times by a Spanish-Portuguese treaty over the Amazon regarding territories held by illegal Portuguese settlers. During its negotiations with Brazil, Peru stated that based on the royal cedula of 1802, it claimed Amazonian Basin territories up to Caqueta River in the north and toward the Andes Mountain range, depriving Ecuador and Colombia of all their claims to the Amazon Basin. Colombia protested stating that its claims extended south toward the Napo and Amazon Rivers. Ecuador protested that it claimed the Amazon Basin between the Caqueta river and the Marañon-Amazon river. Peru ignored these protests and created the Department of Loreto with its capital in Iquitos which it had recently invaded and systematically began to occupy using the river systems in all the territories claimed by both Colombia and Ecuador. Peru briefly occupied Guayaquil again in 1860, since Peru thought that Ecuador was selling some of the disputed land for development to British bond holders, but returned Guayaquil after a few months. The border dispute was then submitted to Spain for arbitration from 1880 to 1910, but to no avail. Then the dispute was submitted to the United States for arbitration in the late 1930s; this failed also. In 1941, amid fast-growing tensions within disputed territories around the Zarumilla River, war broke out with Peru. Peru claimed that Ecuador's military presence in Peruvian-claimed territory was an invasion; Ecuador, for its part, claimed that Peru had recently invaded Ecuador around the Zarumilla River and that Peru since Ecuador's independence from Spain has systematically occupied Tumbez, Jaen, and most of the disputed territories in the Amazonian Basin between the Putomayo and Marañon Rivers. In July 1941, troops were mobilized in both countries. Peru had an army of 11,681 troops who faced a poorly supplied and inadequately armed Ecuadorian force of 2,300, of which only 1,300 were deployed in the southern provinces. Hostilities erupted on July 5, 1941, when Peruvian forces crossed the Zarumilla river at several locations, testing the strength and resolve of the Ecuadorian border troops. Finally, on July 23, 1941, the Peruvians launched a major invasion, crossing the Zarumilla river in force and advancing into the Ecuadorian province of El Oro.

During the course of the war, Peru gained control over part of the disputed territory and some parts of the province of El Oro, and some parts of the province of Loja, demanding that the Ecuadorian government give up its territorial claims. The Peruvian Navy blocked the port of Guayaquil, almost cutting all supplies to the Ecuadorian troops. After a few weeks of war and under pressure by the United States and several Latin American nations, all fighting came to a stop. Ecuador and Peru came to an accord formalized in the Rio Protocol, signed on January 29, 1942, in favour of hemispheric unity against the Axis Powers in World War II favoring Peru with the territory they occupied at the time the war came to an end.

The 1944 Glorious May Revolution followed a military-civilian rebellion and a subsequent civic strike which successfully removed Carlos Arroyo del Río as a dictator from Ecuador's government. However a post-Second World War recession and popular unrest led to a return to populist politics and domestic military interventions in the 1960s, while foreign companies developed oil resources in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 1972, construction of the Andean pipeline was completed. The pipeline brought oil from the east side of the Andes to the coast, making Ecuador South America's second largest oil exporter. The pipeline in southern Ecuador did nothing to resolve tensions between Ecuador and Peru, however.

The Mirage F.1JA (FAE-806) was one of aircraft involved in the claimed shot down of two Peruvian Sukhoi Su-22 on February 10, 1995.

The Rio Protocol failed to precisely resolve the border along a little river in the remote Cordillera del Cóndor region in southern Ecuador. This caused a long-simmering dispute between Ecuador and Peru, which ultimately led to fighting between the two countries; first a border skirmish in January–February 1981 known as the Paquisha Incident, and ultimately full-scale warfare in January 1995 where the Ecuadorian military shot down Peruvian aircraft and helicopters and Peruvian infantry marched into southern Ecuador. Each country blamed the other for the onset of hostilities, known as the Cenepa War. Sixto Durán Ballén, the Ecuadorian president, famously declared that he would not give up a single centimeter of Ecuador. Popular sentiment in Ecuador became strongly nationalistic against Peru: graffiti could be seen on the walls of Quito referring to Peru as the "Cain de Latinoamérica", a reference to the murder of Abel by his brother Cain in the Book of Genesis.

Ecuador and Peru reached a tentative peace agreement in October 1998, which ended hostilities, and the Guarantors of the Rio Protocol ruled that the border of the undelineated zone was set the line of the Cordillera del Cóndor. While Ecuador had to give up its decades-old territorial claims to the eastern slopes of the Cordillera, as well as to the entire western area of Cenepa headwaters, Peru was compelled to give to Ecuador, in perpetual lease but without sovereignty, one square kilometre of its territory, in the area where the Ecuadorian base of Tiwinza – focal point of the war – had been located within Peruvian soil and which the Ecuadorian Army held during the conflict. The final border demarcation came into effect on May 13, 1999.

Military governments (1972–79)

In 1972, a "revolutionary and nationalist" military junta overthrew the government of Velasco Ibarra. The coup d'état was led by General Guillermo Rodríguez and executed by navy commander Jorge Queirolo G. The new president exiled José María Velasco to Argentina. He remained in power until 1976, when he was removed by another military government. That military junta was led by Admiral Alfredo Poveda, who was declared chairman of the Supreme Council. The Supreme Council included two other members: General Guillermo Durán Arcentales and General Luis Leoro Franco. The civil society more and more insistently called for democratic elections. Colonel Richelieu Levoyer, Government Minister, proposed and implemented a Plan to return to the constitutional system through universal elections. This Plan enabled the new democratically elected president to assume the duties of the executive office.

Return to democracy

Elections were held on April 29, 1979, under a new constitution. Jaime Roldós Aguilera was elected president, garnering over one million votes, the most in Ecuadorian history. He took office on August 10, as the first constitutionally elected president after nearly a decade of civilian and military dictatorships. In 1980, he founded the Partido Pueblo, Cambio y Democracia (People, Change and Democracy Party) after withdrawing from the Concentracion de Fuerzas Populares (Popular Forces Concentration) and governed until May 24, 1981, when he died along with his wife and the minister of defense, Marco Subia Martinez, when his Air Force plane crashed in heavy rain near the Peruvian border. Many people believe that he was assassinated, given the multiple death threats leveled against him because of his reformist agenda, deaths in automobile crashes of two key witnesses before they could testify during the investigation and the sometimes contradictory accounts of the incident.

Roldos was immediately succeeded by Vice President Osvaldo Hurtado who was followed in 1984 by León Febres Cordero from the Social Christian Party. Rodrigo Borja Cevallos of the Democratic Left (Izquierda Democrática or ID) party won the presidency in 1988, running in the runoff election against Abdalá Bucaram (brother in law of Jaime Roldos and founder of the Ecuadorian Roldosist Party). His government was committed to improving human rights protection and carried out some reforms, notably an opening of Ecuador to foreign trade. The Borja government concluded an accord leading to the disbanding of the small terrorist group, " ¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo!" ("Alfaro Lives, Dammit!") named after Eloy Alfaro. However, continuing economic problems undermined the popularity of the ID, and opposition parties gained control of Congress in 1999.

The emergence of the indigenous population (approximately 25%) as an active constituency has added to the democratic volatility of the country in recent years. The population has been motivated by government failures to deliver on promises of land reform, lower unemployment and provision of social services, and historical exploitation by the land-holding elite. Their movement, along with the continuing destabilizing efforts by both the elite and leftist movements, has led to a deterioration of the executive office. The populace and the other branches of government give the president very little political capital, as illustrated by the most recent removal of President Lucio Gutiérrez from office by Congress in April 2005. Vice President Alfredo Palacio took his place and remained in office until the presidential election of 2006, in which Rafael Correa gained the presidency.

On September 30, 2010, in a police revolt, several police officers were killed after a military intervention in a police hospital. President Rafael Correa alleged that he was taken hostage in the hospital by police officers as part of a series of protests against cuts to the benefits of public service workers that were part of a financial austerity package. What angered police and elements of the army was a law to end the practice of giving medals and bonuses with each promotion. It would also extend from five to seven years the usual period required for promotions. The government called the revolt a coup and declared a one-week state of emergency which put the military in charge of public order and suspended civil liberties. Peru shut its border with Ecuador.

Government and politics

The current President Rafael Correa assumed office on January 15, 2007

The current state of Ecuador consists of five state functions: the Executive Function, the Legislative Function, the Judicial Function, the Electoral Function and the Transparency and Social Control.

Ecuador is governed by a democratically elected President, for a four-year term. The current president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, exercises his power from the presidential Palacio de Carondelet in Quito. The current constitution was written by the Ecuadorian Constituent Assembly elected in 2007, and was approved by referendum in 2008. Since 1936, voting is compulsory for all literate persons aged 18–65, optional for all other citizens.

The executive branch includes 25 ministries. Provincial governors and councilors (mayors, aldermen, and parish boards) are directly elected. The National Assembly of Ecuador meets throughout the year except for recesses in July and December. There are thirteen permanent committees. Members of the National Court of Justice are appointed by the National Judicial Council for nine-year terms.

Executive branch

Palacio de Carondelet, the executive branch of the Ecuadorian Government

The Executive Function is delegated to the President, currently exercised by Rafael Correa. It is accompanied by his vice president, currently Lenin Moreno, elected for four years (with the ability to be re-elected only once). As Head of State and Head of Government, he is responsible for public administration. Appointing National Coordinators, Ministers, Ministers of State and Public Servants. The executive branch defines foreign policy, appoints the Chancellor of the Republic, as well as Ambassadors and Consuls, being the ultimate authority over the Armed Forces of Ecuador, National Police of Ecuador, and appointing authorities. The acting president's wife receives the title of First Lady of Ecuador.

Legislative branch

The National Assembly (Ecuador) branch of the Ecuadorian Government.

The legislative function is exercised by the National Assembly, which is headquartered in the city of Quito in the Legislative Palace, and consists of 130 Assemblymen, divided into ten committees, elected for a four-year period. Fifteen national constituency elected assembly, two Assembly members elected from each province and one for every hundred thousand inhabitants or fraction exceeding one hundred fifty thousand, according to the latest national census of population. Unaware of this, the law will determine the election of assembly of regions, and metropolitan districts.

Judicial branch

The judicial branch of the Ecuadorian Government.

The judiciary system of the country is made by the Judicial Council as its main body, and the National Court of Justice, Provincial Courts, and tribunes. Legal representation is made by the Judicial Council. The National Court of Justice is composed of 21 judges elected for a term of nine years. Judges are renewed by thirds every three years, as stipulated in the Organic Code of the Judiciary System. These are elected by the Judicial Council pursuant to opposition proceedings and merits. As independent organisms of the judiciary system are the Attorney General and the Public Defender. Auxiliary organizations are as follows: the notarial service, the judicial auctioneer, and the receivers. Also there is a special regime of indigenous justice.

Electoral branch

The Electoral system functions by authorities which enter only every four years or when elections or referendums occur. Its main functions are to organize, control elections, and punish the infringement of electoral rules. Its main body is the National Electoral Council, which is based in the city of Quito, and consists of seven members of the political parties most voted, enjoying complete financial and administrative autonomy. This body next to Electoral Tribunal, forms the Electoral Function which is one of the five branches of government Ecuador.

Transparency and social control branch

The Transparency and Social Control consists of the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control, an ombudsman, the General Comptroller of the State, and the superintendents. Its authorities shall exercise their posts for five years. This power is responsible for promoting transparency and control plans publicly, as well as plans to design mechanisms to combat corruption, as also designate certain authorities, and be the regulatory mechanism of accountability in the country.

Foreign affairs

Ecuadorian passport

Ecuador's principal foreign policy objectives have traditionally included defense of its territory from external aggression and support for the objectives of the United Nations and the OAS. Ecuador's membership in the OPEC in the 1970s and 1980s allowed Ecuadorian leaders to exercise somewhat greater foreign policy autonomy. In Antarctica, Ecuador has maintained a peaceful research station for scientific study as a member nation of the Antarctica Treaty. Ecuador has often placed great emphasis on multilateral approaches to international issues. Ecuador is a member of the United Nations (and most of its specialized agencies) and a member of many regional groups, including the Rio Group, the Latin American Economic System, the Latin American Energy Organization, the Latin American Integration Association, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Andean Community of Nations, the Union of South American Nations ( UNASUR), and The Bank of the South (Spanish: Banco del Sur or BancoSur).

Administrative divisions

Ecuador is divided into 24 provinces (Spanish: provincias), each with its own administrative capital:

Map of Ecuador
Administrative divisions of Ecuador
Province Surface (km²) Population (2010) Capital
1 Azuay 8,639 702,893 Cuenca
2 Bolivar 3,254 182,744 Guaranda
3 Cañar 3,908 223,463 Azogues
4 Carchi 3,699 165,659 Tulcán
5 Chimborazo 5,287 452,352 Riobamba
6 Cotopaxi 6,569 406,798 Latacunga
7 El Oro 5,988 588,546 Machala
8 Esmeraldas 15,216 520,711 Esmeraldas
9 Galápagos 8,010 22,770 Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
10 Guayas 17,139 3,573,003 Guayaquil
11 Imbabura 4,599 400,359 Ibarra
12 Loja 11,027 446,743 Loja
13 Los Rios 6,254 765,274 Babahoyo
14 Manabi 18,400 1,345,779 Portoviejo
15 Morona-Santiago 25,690 147,886 Macas
16 Napo 13,271 104,047 Tena
17 Orellana 20,773 137,848 Puerto Francisco de Orellana
18 Pastaza 29,520 84,329 Puyo
19 Pichincha 9,494 2,570,201 Quito
20 Santa Elena 3,763 301,168 Santa Elena
21 Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas 3,857 365,965 Santo Domingo
22 Sucumbíos 18,612 174,522 Nueva Loja
23 Tungurahua 3,334 500,775 Ambato
24 Zamora-Chinchipe 10,556 91,219 Zamora

The provinces are divided into cantons, and further subdivided into parishes (parroquias).

Regions and planning areas

Regionalization or zoning is the union of two or more adjoining provinces in order to decentralize the administrative functions of the capital Quito. In Ecuador there are 7 regions or zones, each shaped by the following provinces:

  • Region 1 (42,126 km²): Esmeraldas, Carchi, Imbabura y Sucumbios. Administrative city: Ibarra
  • Region 2 (43,498 km²): Pichincha, Napo y Orellana. Administrative city: Tena
  • Region 3 (44,710 km²): Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Pastaza y Cotopaxi. Administrative city: Riobamba
  • Region 4 (22,257 km²): Manabí y Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas. Administrative city: Ciudad Alfaro
  • Region 5 (38,420): Santa Elena, Guayas, Los Ríos, Galápagos y Bolívar. Administrative city: Milagro
  • Region 6 (38,237 km²): Cañar, Azuay y Morona Santiago. Administrative city: Cuenca
  • Region 7 (27,571 km²): El Oro, Loja y Zamora Chinchipe. Administrative city: Loja

Quito and Guayaquil are Metropolitans Districts. Galápagos despite being included within the Region 4 also runs a special scheme under.


A Puma helicopter from the Army's Aviation Branch
Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE)
BAE Shyri (SS-101) from the Ecuadorian Navy.

The Ecuadorian Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas del Ecuador), consists of the Army, Air Force and Navy, and have the stated responsibility for the preservation of the integrity and national sovereignty of the national territory.

The military tradition starts in the Gran Colombia, where a sizeable army was stationed in Ecuador due to border disputes with Peru, which claimed territories under its political control when it was a Spanish vicerroyalty. Once the Gran Colombia was dissolved after the death of Simón Bolívar in 1830, Ecuador inherited the same border disputes and had the need of creating its own professional military force. So influential was the military in Ecuador in the early republican period, that its first decade was under the control of Gral. Juan Jose Flores, first president of Ecuador of Venezuelan origin. The Gral. Jose Ma. Urbina and Gral. Robles are examples of military figures who became president of the country in the early republican period.

Due to the continuous border disputes with Peru, finally settled in the early 2000s, and due to the ongoing problem with the Colombian guerrilla insurgency infiltrating Amazonian provinces, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces has gone through a series of changes. In 2009, the new administration at the Defense Ministry launched a deep restructuring within the forces, increasing spending budget to $1,691,776,803, an increase of 25%.

The icons of the Ecuadorian military forces are the Marshall Antonio José de Sucre and Gral. Eloy Alfaro. The Military Academy "Gral. Eloy Alfaro" (c. 1838) graduates the army officers and is located in Quito. The Ecuadorian Navy Academy (c. 1837) located in Salinas graduates the navy officers, and the Air Academy "Cosme Rennella" (c.1920) located in Salinas, graduates the air force officers. Other training academies for different military specialties are found across the country.


Ecuador has a total area of 283,560 km2 (109,483 sq mi), including the Galápagos Islands. Of this, 276,840 km2 (106,889 sq mi) is land and 6,720 km2 (2,595 sq mi) water. Ecuador is one of the smaller countries in South America.

Ecuador Topography.png
Chimborazo volcano, the farthest point from the centre of the Earth

Ecuador lies between latitudes 2°N and 5°S, Ecuador is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and has 2,337 km of coastline. It has 2010 km of land boundaries, with Colombia in the north (590 km border) and Peru in the east and south (1,420 km border).

The country has three main geographic regions, plus an insular region in the Pacific Ocean:

  • La Costa, or the coast, comprises the low-lying land in the western part of the country, including the Pacific coastline.
  • La Sierra, ("the highlands") is the high-altitude belt running north-south along the centre of the country, its mountainous terrain dominated by the Andes mountain range.
  • La Amazonía, also known as El Oriente ("the east"), comprises the Amazon rainforest areas in the eastern part of the country, accounting for just under half of the country's total surface area, though populated by less than 5% of the population.
  • The Región Insular is the region comprising the Galápagos Islands, some 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean.

Ecuador's capital is Quito, which is in the province of Pichincha in the Sierra region. Its largest city is Guayaquil, in the Guayas Province. Cotopaxi, which is just south of Quito, features one of the world's highest active volcanoes. The top of Mount Chimborazo (6,268 m above sea level) is considered to be the most distant point of the earth's surface from the centre of the earth, given the approximately ellipsoid shape of the planet.


There is great variety in the climate, largely determined by altitude. It is mild year-round in the mountain valleys; humid subtropical climate in coastal areas and rainforest in lowlands. The Pacific coastal area has a tropical climate, with a severe rainy season. The climate in the Andean highlands is temperate and relatively dry; and the Amazon basin on the eastern side of the mountains shares the climate of other rain forest zones.

Because of its location at the equator, Ecuador experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year. Both sunrise and sunset occur each day at the two six o'clock hours.


Pastaza River

The Andes is the watershed divisor between the Amazon watershed, which runs to the east, and the Pacific, including north-south rivers: Mataje, Santiago, Esmeraldas, Chone, Guayas, Jubones and Puyango-Tumbes.

Almost all of the rivers in Ecuador form in the Highland region and flow east toward the Amazon River or west toward the Pacific Ocean. The rivers rise from snowmelt at the edges of the snowcapped peaks or from the abundant precipitation that falls at higher elevations. In the Sierra region, the streams and rivers are narrow and flow rapidly over precipitous slopes. Rivers may slow and widen as they cross the hoyas yet become rapid again as they flow from the heights of the Andes to the lower elevations of the other regions. The highland rivers broaden as they enter the more level areas of the Coast and the Orient.

In the Coastal region, the External Coast has mostly intermittent rivers that are fed by constant rains from December through May and become empty riverbeds during the dry season. The few exceptions are the longer, perennial rivers that flow throughout the External Coast from the Internal Coast and the Highland on their way to the Pacific Ocean. The Internal Coast, by contrast, is crossed by perennial rivers that may flood during the rainy season, sometimes forming swamps.

Major rivers in the Oriente include the Pastaza, Napo, and Putumayo. The Pastaza is formed by the confluence of the Chambo and the Patate rivers, both of which rise in the Sierra. The Pastaza includes the Agoyan waterfall, which at sixty-one meters is the highest waterfall in Ecuador. The Napo rises near Mount Cotopaxi and is the major river used for transport in the Eastern lowlands. The Napo ranges in width from 500 to 1,800 meters. In its upper reaches, the Napo flows rapidly until the confluence with one of its major tributaries, the Coca River, where it slows and levels off. The Putumayo forms part of the border with Colombia. All of these rivers flow into the Amazon River. The Galápagos Islands have no significant rivers. Several of the larger islands, however, have freshwater springs, and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.


Galápagos tortoise
Blue-footed booby
Hammerhead sharks
Galápagos tortoise on Santa Cruz Island (Galápagos)
Two Ducks on the Island of Santa Cruz

Ecuador is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world according to Conservation International, and it has the most biodiversity per square kilometer of any nation. In addition to the mainland, Ecuador owns the Galápagos Islands, for which the country is best known.

Ecuador has 1,600 bird species (15% of the world's known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more endemic in the Galápagos. In addition to over 16,000 species of plants, the country has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly. The Galápagos Islands are well known as a region of distinct fauna, famous as the place of birth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ecuador has the first constitution to recognize the rights of nature. The protection of the nation's biodiversity is an explicit national priority as stated in the National Plan of "Buen Vivir", or good living, objective 4, Guarantee the rights of nature, policy 1: "Sustainably conserve and manage the natural heritage including its land and marine biodiversity which is considered a strategic sector". As of the writing of that Plan in 2008, 19% of Ecuador's land area was in a protected area, however, the Plan also states that 32% of the land must be protected in order to truly preserve the nation's biodiversity. Current protected areas include 11 national parks, 10 wildlife refuges, 9 ecological reserves and other areas. A program begun in 2008, Sociobosque, is preserving another 2.3% of total landarea (629,475.5 hectares or 6,295 km²) by paying private landowners or community landowners (such as indigenous tribes) incentives to maintain their land as native ecosystems such as native forests or grasslands. Eligibility and subsidy rates for this program are determined based on the poverty in the region, the number of hectacres that will be protected, the type of ecosystem of the land to be protected among other factors.

Despite being on the UNESCO list, the Galápagos are endangered by a range of negative environmental effects, threatening the existence of this exotic ecosystem. Additionally, oil exploitation of the Amazon rain forest has led to the release of billions of gallons of untreated wastes, gas, and crude oil into the environment, contaminating ecosystems and causing detrimental health effects to indigenous peoples.


Graphical depiction of Ecuador's product exports in 28 colour-coded categories.
World Trade Centre headquarters in Guayaquil
Refineries in Esmeraldas

Ecuador's economy is the seventh largest in Latin America and experienced an average growth of 4.6% between 2000 and 2006. From 2007-2012 Ecuador's GDP grew at an annual average of 4.3 percent, above the average for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is 3.5 percent, according to the United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Ecuador was able to maintain relatively superior growth during the crisis. In January 2009 the Central Bank of Ecuador (BCE) put the 2010 growth forecast at 6.88%. In 2011 its GDP grew at 7.8 percent and ranked third highest in Latin America, behind Argentina (2nd) and Panama (1st). Between 1999 and 2007, GDP doubled reaching 65,490 million dollars according to BCE. Inflation rate up to January 2008 was located about 1.14%, the highest recorded in the last year, according to Government. The monthly unemployment rate remained at about 6 and 8 percent from December 2007 until September 2008, however, it went up to about 9 percent in October and dropped again in November 2008 to 8 percent. Unemployment mean annual rate for 2009 in Ecuador was of 8.5 percent, as the global economic crisis continued to affect the Latin American economies. From this point unemployment rates started a downward trend: 7.6 percent in 2010, 6.0 percent in 2011, and 4.8 percent in 2012.

The extreme poverty rate has declined significantly between 1999 and 2010. In 2001 it was estimated at 40% of the population, while by 2011 the figure dropped to 17.4% of the total population. This is explained to an extent by emigration and economic stability achieved after adopting the U.S. dollar as official means of transaction. However, starting in 2008 with the bad economic performance of the nations where most Ecuadorian emigrants work, the reduction of poverty has been realized through social spending mainly in education and health.

Oil accounts for 40% of exports and contributes to maintaining a positive trade balance. Since the late 1960s, the exploitation of oil increased production and proven reserves are estimated at 6.51 billion barrels as of 2011.

The overall trade balance for August 2012 was a surplus of almost 390 million dollars for the first six months of 2012, a huge figure compared with that of 2007, which reached only $ 5.7 million; the surplus had risen by about 425 million compared to 2006. This circumstance was due to the fact that imports grew faster than exports. The oil trade balance positive had revenues of $ 3.295 million in 2008, while non-oil was negative amounting to 2.842 million dollars. The trade balance with the United States, Chile, the European Union, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil and Mexico is positive. The trade balance with Argentina, Colombia and Asia is negative.

In the agricultural sector, Ecuador is a major exporter of bananas (first place worldwide in production and export), flowers, and the eighth largest producer of cocoa. It is also significant the shrimp production, sugar cane, rice, cotton, corn, palm and coffee. The country's vast resources include large amounts of timber across the country, like eucalyptus and mangroves. Pines and cedars are planted in the region of the Sierra, walnuts and rosemary, and balsa wood, on Guayas River Basin. The industry is concentrated mainly in Guayaquil, the largest industrial center, and in Quito where in recent years the industry has grown considerably, this city is also the largest business centre of the country. Industrial production is directed primarily to domestic market. Despite this, there is limited export of products produced or processed industrially. These include canned foods, liquor, jewelry, furniture and more. A minor industrial activity is also concentrated in Cuenca.

Ecuador has negotiated bilateral treaties with other countries, besides belonging to the Andean Community of Nations, and an associate member of Mercosur. It also serves on the World Trade Organization (WTO), in addition to the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF) and other multilateral agencies. In April 2007, Ecuador paid off its debt to the IMF thus ending an era of interventionism of the Agency in the country. The public finance of Ecuador consists of the Central Bank of Ecuador (BCE), the National Development Bank (BNF), the State Bank, the National Finance Corporation, the Ecuadorian Housing Bank (BEV) and the Ecuadorian Educational Loans and Grants.

Between 2006 and 2009, the government increased social spending, on social welfare, and education from 2.6% to 5.2% of its GDP. Starting in 2007 with an economy surpassed by the economic crisis, Ecuador was subject to a number of economic policy reforms by Government that have helped steer the Ecuadorian economy to a sustained, substantial, and focused to achieve financial stability and social policy. Such policies were expansionary fiscal policies, of access to housing finance, stimulus packs, and limiting the amount of money reserves banks could keep abroad. Ecuadorian government has made huge investments in education and infrastructure throughout the nation, which have improved the lives of the poor.

In 2000 Ecuador changed its currency from the sucre to the US dollar following a banking crisis.

On 12 December 2008 president Correa announced that Ecuador would not pay $30.6m in interest to lenders of a $510m loan, claiming that they were monsters. In addition it claimed that $3.8bn in foreign debt negotiated by previous administrations was illegitimate because it was authorised without executive decree. At the time of the announcement, the country had $5.65bn in cash reserves.


The country has potential for the industry in a variety of sectors. Domestic production of raw materials and manufactured textiles, mining, chemical, petrochemical and oil refinement. Power generation is also a potential sector which is starting to be developed due to Ecuador's high water potential in various sectors of the country; the development of products based on the melting or glass materials, production and agro-processed foods, pharmaceutical production, among others. The most relevant projects currently under development is the Pacific refinery, located in Manta which will be one of the largest in the region.


The U.S. dollar, current currency of the Republic of Ecuador.

In its infancy Ecuador was part of Gran Colombia until 1830 as Departamento del Sur. Gran Colombia's monetary regulations retained the old Spanish colonial system. Ecuador officially began its own monetary unit on June 28, 1835, when the inscription (rev.) "EL ECUADOR EN COLOMBIA" was changed to "REPUBLICA DEL ECUADOR". Many regional coins from neighborhing Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, etc. as well as international units, were in circulation and accepted while Quito fought counterfeiting and tried to unify its currency. Counterfeiting had reached alarming proportions during 1842. At this time, Ecuador was on the verge of bankruptcy, and since legitimate coins had such imperfections, it was impossible to tell them from the bad coins.

On December 29, 1845, President Vicente Ramón Roca authorized a coin to compete with the fuertes (full-bodied coin) of other countries. This was the peso fuerte. The standard of 903 fineness for silver, however, resulted in a heavy export of the coin. It disappeared as soon as it entered circulation ( Gresham's law), grabbed up by the merchants of Guayaquil.

By the 1850s the Quito mint was not receiving enough precious metals to justify its operation. It had to coin a minimum of 6,000 pesos a year just to meet overhead. The mint was shut down during 1853 while the government considered the options of keeping it open or shutting it down. The mint equipment was worn and could not produce coin in sufficient quantity to compete with the foreign coin that entered Ecuador.

Congress passed a new monetary law on December 5, 1856, adopting the French decimal system, a standard of 0·900 for silver, and the Ecuadorian Franco. The peso remained a unit of account equal to 5 francos. Paper money was first issued in 1859 by the Banco de Circulación y Descuento de Manuel Antonio de Luzarraga in Guayaquil, with banknote denominations of 1, 4, 5, 10, and 20 pesos.

Ecuador's monetary unit, the peso, was renamed sucre (decree of March 22, 1884, effective April 1). The 1884 monetary law permitted free circulation of gold coin of France, Italy, Switzerland, Colombia, etc. As for silver, the law permitted the import of 5-franc pieces of France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland etc. Copper (vellón) was made legal tender to 5 décimos. Bank reserves were in silver coins, and banknotes were convertible solely into silver. Ecuador was on a de facto silver standard and did not coin any gold between 1884 and 1892. President Antonio Flores Jijón, announced that from August 15, 1890 only national coins were allowed to circulate in Ecuador, and Ecuador's monetary system was unified.

Following the financial banking crisis of 1999, the US dollar became legal tender in Ecuador on March 13, 2000 and sucre notes ceased being legal tender on September 11. Sucre notes remained exchangeable at Banco Central until March 30, 2001 at 25,000 sucres per dollar. Ecuador now only issues its own centavo coins.


The Metrovia bus rapid transit system that runs through Guayaquil.

The rehabilitation and reopening of the Ecuadorian railroad, and use of it as a tourist attraction is one of the recent developments in transportation matter. The roads of Ecuador in recent years have undergone important improvement. The major routes are Pan American (under enhacement from 4 to 6 lanes from Rumichaca to Ambato, the conclusion of 4 lanes on the entire stretch of Ambato and Riobamba and running via Riobamba to Loja). In the absence of the section between Loja and the border with Peru, the Route Espondilus and / or Ruta del Sol (oriented to travel throughout the Ecuadorian coastline.), the backbone Amazon (which crosses from north to south along the Ecuadorian Amazon, linking most and more major cities of it); Another major project is developing the road Manta – Tena, the highway Guayaquil – Salinas Highway Aloag Santo Domingo, Riobamba – Macas (which crosses Sangay National Park). Other new developments include the ¨National Unity¨ bridge complex in Guayaquil, the bridge over the Napo river in Francisco de Orellana, the Esmeraldas River Bridge in the city of the same name, and perhaps the most remarkable of all, the ¨Bahia – San Vincente Bridge¨, being the largest in the Latin American Pacific coast. The international airports of Quito and Guayaquil have experienced a high increase in demand and have required modernization. In the case of Guayaquil it involved a new air terminal, once considered the best in South America and the best in Latin America, and in Quito where an entire new airport is being built in Tababela, and was inaugurated by February 2013, with Canadian assistance. However, the main road leading from the Quito city centre to the new airport will only be finished in 2014, making current travelling from the airport to downtown Quito as long as 2 hours during rush hour.


Ecuador is the 8th most biodiverse country on the planet. Ecuador contains almost 20,000 species of plants, 1,500 species of birds, 341 species of mammals and more than 840 species of reptiles and amphibians. Sadly, logging and oil exploitation is expected to detroy a great deal of this natural wealth.


2011 estimates put Ecuador's population at 15,007,343. Ecuador's population is ethnically diverse. The largest ethnic group (as of 2010) is the Mestizos, the descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous peoples, who constitute 71.9% of the population. Amerindians account for 7% of the current population. Afro-Ecuadorians, including Mulattos and zambos, are also a minority, largely based in Esmeraldas and Imbabura provinces, and make up around 7% of the population.

Basílica del Voto Nacional in old downtown Quito


According to the Ecuadorian National Institute of Statistics and Census, 91.95% of the country's population have a religion, 7.94% are atheists and 0.11% are agnostics. Among the people that have a religion, 80.44% are Roman Catholic (see List of Roman Catholic dioceses in Ecuador), 11.30% are Protestants, 1.29% are Jehovah's Witnesses and 6.97% other (mainly Jewish, Buddhists and Mormons).

In the rural parts of Ecuador, indigenous beliefs and Catholicism are sometimes syncretized. Most festivals and annual parades are based on religious celebrations, many incorporating a mixture of rites and icons.

There is a small number of Eastern Orthodox Christians, indigenous religions, Muslims (see Islam in Ecuador), Buddhists and Bahá'í. Ecuador has a number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about 1.4% of the population, or about 185,000 members. In 2010, there were 73,215 Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.

The "Jewish Community of Ecuador" (Comunidad Judía del Ecuador) has its seat in Quito and has approximately 300 members. Nevertheless, this number is declining because young people leave the country towards the United States of America or Israel. The Community has a Jewish Centre with a synagogue, a country club and a cemetery. It supports the "Albert Einstein School", where Jewish history, religion and Hebrew classes are offered. Since 2004, there has also been a Chabad house in Quito.

There are very small communities in Cuenca and Ambato. The "Comunidad de Culto Israelita" reunites the Jews of Guayaquil. This community works independently from the "Jewish Community of Ecuador". Jewish visitors to Ecuador can also take advantage of Jewish resources as they travel and keep kosher there, even in the Amazon Rainforest. The city has also synagogue of Messianic Judaism.


The Ecuadorian constitution recognizes the "pluri-nationality" of those who want to exercise their affiliation with their native ethnic groups. Thus, in addition to criollos, mestizos, and Afro-Ecuadorians, some people belong to the indigenous nations scattered in a few places in the coast, Quechua Andean villages, and the Amazonian jungle.

Population density

The majority of Ecuadorians live in the central provinces, the Andes mountains, or along the Pacific coast. The tropical forest region to the east of the mountains (El Oriente) remains sparsely populated, and contains only about 3% of the population.
Population cities (2010)

Largest cities of Ecuador


City Province Population

Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo


1 Bandera de Guayaquil.svg Guayaquil Bandera de Guayaquil.svg Guayas 2 350 915
2 Flag of Quito.svg Quito Bandera Província Pichincha.svg Pichincha 2 239 191
3 Flag of Cuenca, Ecuador.svg Cuenca Bandera Província Azuay.svg Azuay 505 585
4 Bandera de Sto. Domingo de los Colorados.png Santo Domingo BANDERA DE SANTO DOMINGO DE LOS TSACHILAS.PNG Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas 368 013
5 Machala Flag.svg Machala Bandera Província El Oro.svg El Oro 241 606
6 Flag of Durán.svg Durán Bandera de Guayaquil.svg Guayas 235 769
7 Bandera de Portoviejo.PNG Portoviejo Bandera de Manabí.svg Manabí 223 086
8 Bandera de Manta.png Manta Bandera de Manabí.svg Manabí 221 122
9 Bandera Província Loja.svg Loja Bandera Província Loja.svg Loja 180 617
10 Bandera Província Tungurahua.svg Ambato Bandera Província Tungurahua.svg Tungurahua 178 538

Status According to the 2010 Census

Immigration and emigration

A small east Asian Latino community, estimated at 2,500, mainly consists of those of Japanese and Chinese descent, whose ancestors arrived as miners, farmhands and fishermen in the late 19th century.

In the early years of World War II, Ecuador still admitted a certain number of immigrants, and in 1939, when several South American countries refused to accept 165 Jewish refugees from Germany aboard the ship "Koenigstein", Ecuador granted them entry permits.


A mestizo woman in Ecuadorian garment participating in the 2010 Carnaval del Pueblo.

Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its Hispanic mestizo majority, and like their ancestry, it is traditionally of Spanish heritage, influenced in different degrees by Amerindian traditions, and in some cases by African elements.The first and most substantial wave of modern immigration to Ecuador consisted of Spanish colonists, following the arrival of Europeans in 1499. A lower number of other Europeans and North Americans migrated to the country in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, and in smaller numbers, Poles, Lithuanians, English, Irish, and Croats during and after the Second World War.

Since African slavery was not the workforce of the Spanish colonies in the Andes Mountains of South America, given the subjugation of the indigenous people through evangelism and encomiendas, the minority population of African descent is mostly found in the coastal northern province of Esmeraldas. This is largely owing to the 17th century shipwreck of a slave-trading galleon off the northern coast of Ecuador. The few black African survivors swam to the shore and penetrated the then-thick jungle under the leadership of Anton, the chief of the group, where they remained as free men maintaining their original culture, not influenced by the typical elements found in other provinces of the coast or in the Andean region. A little later runaway slaves from Colombia known as cimarrones joined them. In the small Chota Valley of the province of Imbabura exist a small community of Africans among the provinces predominantly mestizo population. These blacks are descendants of Africans, who were brought over from Colombia by Jesuits to work their colonial sugar and plantations as slaves. As a general rule small elements of zambos and mulattoes co-exist among the overwhelming mestizo population of coastal Ecuador throughout its history as gold miners in Loja, Zaruma and Zamora; and shipbuilders and plantation workers around the city of Guayaquil. Today you can find a small community of Africans in the Catamayo valley of the predominantly mestizo population of Loja.

Ecuador's indigenous communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees, but some may also practice their own indigenous cultures, particularly the more remote indigenous communities of the Amazon basin. Spanish is spoken as the first language by more than 90% of the population, and as a first or second language by more than 98%. Part of Ecuador's population can speak Amerindian languages, in some cases as a second language. Two percent of the population speak only Amerindian languages.


Most Ecuadorians speak Spanish, though many speak Amerindian languages such as Kichwa. Other Amerindian languages spoken in Ecuador include Awapit (spoken by the Awá), A'ingae (spoken by the Cofan), Shuar Chicham (spoken by the Shuar), Achuar-Shiwiar (spoken by the Achuar and the Shiwiar), Cha'palaachi (spoken by the Chachi), Tsa'fiki (spoken by the Tsáchila), Paicoca (spoken by the Siona and Secoya), and Wao Tededeo (spoken by the Waorani). Though most features of Ecuadorian Spanish are those universal to the Spanish-speaking world, there are several idiosyncrasies.


Julio Jaramillo is an icon of music.

The music of Ecuador has a long history. Pasillo is a genre of indigenous Latin music. In Ecuador it is the "national genre of music." Through the years, many cultures have influenced to establish new types of music. There are also different kinds of traditional music like albazo, pasacalle, fox incaico, tonada, capishca, Bomba highly established in afro-Ecuadorian society like Esmeraldas, and so on. Tecnocumbia and Rockola are clear examples of foreign cultures influence. One of the most traditional forms of dancing in Ecuador is Sanjuanito. It's originally from the North of Ecuador ( Otavalo-Imbabura). Sanjuanito is a danceable music used in the festivities of the mestizo and indigenous culture. According to the Ecuadorian musicologist Segundo Luis Moreno, Sanjuanito was danced by indigenous people during San Juan Bautista's birthday. This important date was established by the Spaniards on June 24, coincidentally the same date when indigenous people celebrated their rituals of Inti Raymi.


Ecuadorian ceviche, made of shrimp and lemon, onions and some herbs. Tomato sauce and orange are used at some places, but does not form a part of the basic recipe

Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with the altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a second course which includes rice and a protein such as meat or fish, and then dessert and coffee to finish. Supper is usually lighter, and sometimes consists only of coffee or herbal tea with bread.

In the highland region, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn) or potatoes.

In the coastal region, seafood is very popular, with fish, shrimp and ceviche being key parts of the diet. Generally, ceviches are served with fried plantain ( chifles y patacones), popcorn or tostado. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals. Encocados (dishes that contain a coconut sauce) are also very popular. Churrasco is a staple food of the coastal region, especially Guayaquil. Arroz con menestra y carne asada (rice with beans and grilled beef) is one of the traditional dishes of Guayaquil, as is fried plantain which is often served with it. This region is a leading producer of bananas, cacao beans (to make chocolate), shrimp, tilapia, mangos and passion fruit, among other products.

In the Amazon region, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms.


Juan Montalvo

Early literature in colonial Ecuador, as in the rest of Spanish America, was influenced by the Spanish Golden Age. One of the earliest examples is Jacinto Collahuazo, an indigenous chief of a northern village in today's Ibarra, born in the late 1600s. Despite the early repression and discrimination of the native people by the Spanish, Collahuazo learned to read and write in Castilian, but his work was written in Quechua. The use of the Quipu was banned by the Spanish, and in order to preserve their work, many Inca poets had to resort to the use of the Latin alphabet to write in their native Quechua language. The history behind the Inca drama "Ollantay", the oldest literary piece in existence for any indigenous language in America, shares some similarities with the work of Collahuazo. Collahuazo was imprisoned, and all of his work burned. The existence of his literary work came to light many centuries later, when a crew of masons was restoring the walls of a colonial church in Quito, and found a hidden manuscript. The salvaged fragment is a Spanish translation from Quechua of the "Elegy to the Dead of Atahualpa", a poem written by Collahuazo, which describes the sadness and impotence of the Inca people of having lost their king Atahualpa.

Other early Ecuadorian writers include the Jesuits Juan Bautista Aguirre, born in Daule in 1725, and Father Juan de Velasco, born in Riobamba in 1727. De Velasco wrote about the nations and chiefdoms that had existed in the Kingdom of Quito (today Ecuador) before the arrival of the Spanish. His historical accounts are nationalistic, featuring a romantic perspective of precolonial history.

Famous authors from the late colonial and early republic period include: Eugenio Espejo a printer and main author of the first newspaper in Ecuadorian colonial times; Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (born in Guayaquil), famous for his ode to Simón Bolívar titled Victoria de Junin; Juan Montalvo, a prominent essayist and novelist; Juan Leon Mera, famous for his work "Cumanda" or "Tragedy among Savages" and the Ecuadorian National Anthem; Juan A. Martinez with A la Costa, Dolores Veintimilla, and others.

Contemporary Ecuadorian writers include the novelist Jorge Enrique Adoum; the poet Jorge Carrera Andrade; the essayist Benjamín Carrión; the poets Medardo Angel Silva, Jorge Carrera Andrade, Luis Alberto Costales; the novelist Enrique Gil Gilbert; the novelist Jorge Icaza (author of the novel Huasipungo, translated to many languages); the short story author Pablo Palacio; the novelist Alicia Yanez Cossio.


The best known art styles from Ecuador belonged to the Escuela Quiteña, which developed from the 16th to 18th centuries, examples of which are on display in various old churches in Quito. Ecuadorian painters include: Eduardo Kingman, Oswaldo Guayasamín and Camilo Egas from the Indiginist Movement; Manuel Rendon, Jaime Zapata, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Theo Constanté, León Ricaurte, Luis Molinari, Araceli Gilbert, Judith Gutierrez, Felix Arauz and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement; and Luis Burgos Flor with his abstract, futuristic style. The indigenous people of Tigua, Ecuador are also world-renowned for their traditional paintings.


Jefferson Pérez, Olympian Gold Medalist.
Estadio Monumental of Guayaquil.
Nicolás Lapentti

The most popular sport in Ecuador, as in most South American countries, is football (soccer). Its best known professional teams include Barcelona and Emelec from Guayaquil; LDU Quito, Deportivo Quito, and El Nacional from Quito; Olmedo from Riobamba; and Deportivo Cuenca from Cuenca. Currently the most successful football club in Ecuador is LDU Quito, and it is the only Ecuadorian club that have won the Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana and the Recopa Sudamericana; they were also runners-up in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup. The matches of the Ecuadorian national team are the most-watched sporting events in the country. Ecuador qualified for the final rounds of both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. The 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign was considered a huge success for the country and its inhabitants. Ecuador finished in 2nd place on the qualifiers behind Argentina and above the team that would become World Champion, Brazil. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ecuador finished ahead of Poland and Costa Rica to come in second to Germany in Group A in the 2006 World Cup. Futsal, often referred to as índor, is particularly popular for mass participation.

There is considerable interest in tennis in the middle and upper classes of Ecuadorian society, and several Ecuadorian professional players have attained international fame. Basketball has a high profile, while Ecuador's specialties include Ecua-volley, a three-person variation of volleyball. Bullfighting is practiced at a professional level in Quito, during the annual festivities that commemorate the Spanish founding of the city, and it also features in festivals in many smaller towns. Rugby union is found to some extent in Ecuador, with teams in Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca.

Ecuador has won only two medals in the Olympic Games, both gained by 20 km racewalker Jefferson Pérez, who took gold in the 1996 games, and silver 12 years later. Pérez also set a world best in the 2003 World Championships of 1:17:21 for the 20 km distance.


The current structure of the Ecuadorian public health care system dates back to 1967. The Ministry of the Public Health (Ministerio de Salud Publica del Ecuador) is the responsible entity of the regulation and creation of the public health policies and health care plans. The "Minister of Public Health" is appointed directly by the President of the republic. The current minister or Ecuadorian general surgeon, is Carina Vance.

The philosophy of the Ministry of Public Health is the social support and service to the most vulnerable population and its main plan of action lies around communitarian health and preventive medicine.

The public health-care system allows patients to be attended daily in public general hospitals, with no previous appointment by general practitioners and specialists in the outpatient clinic (Consulta Externa) at no cost. This is done in the 4 basic specialties of pediatric, gynecology, clinic medicine, and surgery. There are also public hospitals specialized to treat chronic diseases, target a particular group of the population, or to provide a better attention in some medical specialties. Some examples in this group are the Gynecologic Hospitals or Maternities, Children Hospitals, Geriatric Hospitals and Oncology Institutes.

Although well equipped general hospitals are found in the major cities or capitals of province, there are basic hospitals in the smaller towns and canton cities, for family care consultation and treatments in pediatrics, gynecology, clinical medicine, and surgery.

Community health care centers (Centros de Salud), are found inside metropolitan areas of cities and in rural areas. These are Day Hospitals with attention to patients whose hospitalization is under 24 hours. The doctors assigned to rural communities, where the population of indigenous people can be substantial, have under their responsibility small clinics for the attention of the patients in the same fashion as the Day Hospitals in the major cities. The attention in this case respects the culture of the community.

The public health-care system should not be confused with the Ecuadorian Social Security health-care service which is dedicated to the individuals with formal employment and who are affiliated obligatorily through their employers. Citizens with no formal employment, may still contribute to the social security system voluntarily and have access to the medical services rendered by the social security system. The Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS) has under its administration several major hospitals and medical sub-centers across the nation.

Ecuadorians have a life expectancy of 75 years. The infant mortality rate is 13 per 1,000 live births, a major improvement from approximately 76 in the early 1980s and 140 in 1950. 23% of children under five are chronically malnourished. Population in some rural areas have no access to potable water and its supply is provided by mean of water tankers. There are 686 malaria cases per 100,000 people. Basic health care, including doctor's visits, basic surgeries, and basic medications, has been provided free since 2008. However, some public hospitals are in poor condition and often lack necessary supplies to attend the high demand of patients. Private hospitals and clinics are well equipped but still expensive for the majority of the population.


ESPOL – Guayaquil

The Ecuadorian Constitution requires that all children attend school until they achieve a "basic level of education", which is estimated at nine school years. In 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 96.9%, and 71.8% of children stayed in school until the fifth grade. The cost of primary and secondary education is borne by the government, but families often face significant additional expenses such as fees and transportation costs.

Provision of public schools falls far below the levels needed, and class sizes are often very large, and families of limited means often find it necessary to pay for education. In rural areas, only 10% of the children go on to high school. The Ministry of Education states that the mean number of years completed is 6.7.

Maldonado's High School Riobamba

Ecuador has 61 universities, many of which still confer terminal degrees according to the traditional Spanish education system, honoring a long tradition of having some of the oldest universities in the Americas: University of San Fulgencio founded in 1586 by the Augustines, San Gregorio Magno University founded in 1651 by the Jesuits, and University of Santo Tomas of Aquino, founded in 1681 by the Dominican order.

Among the traditional conferred terminal degrees can be noted the Doctorate for medicine and law schools; Engineer, Physicist, Chemist, or Mathematician for polytechnic or technology institutes. These terminal degrees, as in the case of the PhD in other countries, were the main requirement for an individual to be accepted in academia as a professor or researcher. In the professional realm, a terminal degree granted by an accredited institution provided automatically a professional license to the individual.

However, in 2004 the National Council of Higher Education (CONESUP), started the reorganization of all the degree-granting schemes of the accredited universities in order to pair them with foreign counterparts. The new structure of some careers caused the dropping of subjects, credits or even the name of the previously conferred diplomas. The terminal degree in law, previously known as JD Juris Doctor (Doctor en Jurisprudencia) was replaced by the one of attorney (Abogado) with the exception of the modification of the number of credits to equate it to an undergraduate degree. In the same fashion for Med School, the required time of education was considerably reduced from 9 years (the minimum needed to obtain the title of MD Doctor in Medicine and Surgery) to almost five, with the provision that the diploma is not terminal anymore and it is given with the title of Medic (Medico). Therefore, an MD or PhD in medicine is only to be obtained overseas until the universities adjust themselves to granting schemes and curriculum as in foreign counterparts. Nonetheless, a "medico" can start a career as family practitioner or general medicine physician.

Biblioteca Municipal de Guayaquil

This new reorganization, although very ambitious, lacked the proper path to the homologation of diplomas for highly educated professionals graduated in the country or even for the ones graduated in foreign institutions. One of the points of conflict was the imposition of obtaining foreign degrees to current academicians. As today, a master degree is as a requirement to keep an academic position and at least a foreign PhD to attain or retain the status of Rector (President of a university) or Decano (Dean). For Ecuadorian researchers and many academicians trained in the country, these regulations sounded illogical, disappointing, and unlawful since it appeared a question of a title name conflict rather than specialization or science advancement.

A debate to modify this and other reforms, specially the one which granted control of the Higher Education System by the government, was practically passed with consensus by the multi-partisan National Assembly on August 4, 2010 but vetoed by the president Rafael Correa, who wanted to keep the law strictly as it was originally redacted by his political party and SENPLADES (National Secretary of Planning and Development). Due to this change, there are many highly educated professionals and academicians under the old structure but estimated that only 87% of the faculty in public universities have already obtained a master's degree and fewer than 5% have PhD (although many of them have already Ecuadorian granted Doctorate degrees).

About 300 institutes of higher education offer two to three years of post-secondary vocational or technical training.

Sciences and research

EXA's first satellite, NEE-01 Pegasus

The most notable icons in Ecuadorian sciences are the mathematician and cartographer Pedro Vicente Maldonado, born in Riobamba in 1707, and the printer, independence precursor, and medical pioneer Eugenio Espejo, born in 1747 in Quito. Among other notable Ecuadorian scientists and engineers are Lieutenant Jose Rodriguez Lavandera, a pioneer who built the first submarine in Latin America in 1837; Reinaldo Espinosa Aguilar (1898–1950), a botanist and biologist of Andean flora; and José Aurelio Dueñas (1880–1961), a chemist and inventor of a method of textile serigraphy.

The major areas of scientific research in Ecuador have been in the medical fields, tropical and infectious diseases treatments, agricultural engineering, pharmaceutical research, and bioengineering. Being a small country and a consumer of foreign technology, Ecuador has favored research supported by entrepreneurship in information technology. The antivirus program Checkprogram and banking protection system MdLock and the Core Banking Software Cobis are products of Ecuadorian development.

The scientific production in hard sciences has been limited due to lack of funding but focused around science of materials in Physics and Statistics in Mathematics. In the case of engineering fields, the majority of the scientific production comes from the top three polytechnic institutions: ESPOL (Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral), ESPE (Escuela Superior Politecnica del Ejercito) and EPN (Escuela Politecnica Nacional).

Contemporary Ecuadorian scientists who have been recognized by international institutions are Eugenia del Pino (born 1945), the first Ecuadorian to be elected to the United States National Academy of Science, and Arturo Villavicencio, who was part of the working group of the IPCC which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for their dissemination of the effects of climate change.

Currently, the politics of research and investigation are managed by the National Secretary of Higher Education, Science and Technology Senescyt.

Retrieved from ""