Ecuador

Ecuador

Geographical Location of Ecuador

Ecuador stretches from the Amazon in the east, through the Andes and to the Pacific coast, bordering Colombia and Peru. The continent is divided into three parts: the coast and lowlands in the west, covered with tropical forests and deserts, the highlands of the Andes mountain range, and the lowlands in the east, where the Amazon rainforest is located. One hundred miles from the mainland are the Galapagos Islands, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both the islands and the Andes have several active volcanoes. The highest active volcano in the world is Cotopaxi (5897 m), located in the highlands.

The climate varies greatly in different geographical parts. The Amazon has a tropical climate with high temperatures and heavy rainfall. In the southwest there is desert, and in the highlands, the higher you go, the colder it is, and also the more precipitation. Every few years, the country is affected by El Niño and La Niña, two climate phenomena that cause severe weather disturbances. Other natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, floods and periodic droughts also occur regularly.

Forest destruction is a serious environmental problem. Deforestation is driven by agriculture, especially livestock farming and banana, cocoa and palm oil plantations, and a warming climate. Oil extraction has led to water pollution, which can harm the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to grant rights to nature through a newly adopted constitution.

Brief History of Ecuador

The earliest traces of human habitation on the territory of modern Ecuador date back to 8000 BC. At the end of the 15th century, the area became part of the old Inca Empire and the local cultures were destroyed. In the 1520s, the Spanish reached Ecuador, and in 1544 the country became part of the Spanish colonial empire. In just 100 years, half of the Incas died due to disease and forced labor as a result of European colonization.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the struggle for independence began against Spanish colonial rule. Ecuador became independent in 1822, then part of Gran Colombia. In 1830, Ecuador became completely independent. After gaining independence, the country was in conflict with Peru for 200 years. The conflict arose due to disagreements over land in the Amazon. After the 1941-42 war, Ecuador had to cede large oil-rich Amazon territories to Peru. A final peace agreement ended the conflict in 1998.

The 20th century was politically unstable, with several military coups and economic crises. The country has had civilian rule since 1979, but despite reforms and attempts at democratization, this period has been characterized by political instability. Several presidents were overthrown during their reign. Only in 2007, when Rafael Correa came to power, did the unrest subside. With Correa in power, the country received a new constitution, a fairer distribution of the country's wealth, lower unemployment rates, and a more stable political landscape.

Society and Politics of Ecuador

Ecuador is a democratic unitary republic and the president has significant power as head of state and government. Under the new 2008 constitution, the president, vice-president and national assembly are directly elected for four-year terms.

Despite recent improvements in the country's social conditions, there is still wide economic inequality between rich and poor, with more than a fifth of the population living below the national poverty line. The ruling authorities have tried to equalize the country's economic disparities through social welfare programs such as free education, paid parental leave and free healthcare, but there are large differences between public and private services.
In Ecuador, human trafficking is a serious problem and crime is high in the country. One in five children suffers from malnutrition, and lack of access to clean water poses a public health risk. There is also a growing proportion of the population suffering from lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Economy and Trade of Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the poorest countries in South America. Economic development has long been hampered by high levels of unemployment and inflation. During Correa's presidency, the economy nearly doubled and more than a million Ecuadorians were lifted out of poverty. The country is currently considered a middle-income country, but its dependence on oil and large international debt pose economic problems.

Ecuador depended on a single export product: cocoa in the 1920s, coffee in the 1930s, bananas in the 1940s, and oil became its main source of income from the 1970s. Dependence on a single product means that the economy is highly vulnerable to price fluctuations, and falling prices of individual goods throughout history have contributed to unstable economic and social conditions.

Ecuadorian citizens living abroad send so much money home that it constitutes a small but important part of the economy. Tourism has also become an important sector. Ecuador's main trading partner is the United States, and Ecuador's currency has been the US dollar since 2000, as the local currency, the sucre, lost value during times of high inflation.

Flag of Ecuador
Coat of Arms of Ecuador

Basic Information About Ecuador

  • Full name - Republic of Ecuador
  • Capital - Quito
  • Language - Spanish
  • Population - 18,190,484
  • Form of government - republic
  • Area - 256,370 km2
  • Currency - US dollar
  • National Day - August 10