Ecuador Basic Facts - History

Ecuador Basic Facts - History

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Population (2002)...............................................13,447,494
GDP per capita 2001 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$)........... 3,000
GDP 2001 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$ billions)................ 39.6

Average annual growth 1991-97
Population (%) ....... 2.1
Labor force (%) ....... 3.0

Total Area...................................................................109,483 sq. mi.
Poverty (% of population below national poverty line)......35
Urban population (% of total population) ...............................60
Life expectancy at birth (years)..................................................... 70
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births)........................................ 33
Child malnutrition (% of children under 5) ............................. 17
Access to safe water (% of population) ..................................... 65
Illiteracy (% of population age 15+) ............................................. 9

Ecuadorian History

Ecuador’s history packs a dramatic punch. It’s marked by periods of radical change, brought about suddenly by charismatic strongmen. First the conquistadores arrived, and pillaged without consequence. Inca kings defied the new rulers, no matter what the cost. Revolution then came to Ecuador, and a subsequent lineup of despots dominated the political stage.

Although Ecuador’s economy has seen massive improvement in recent decades, it’s unclear if the centuries of drama are coming to an end. At the very least, the 21st century has brought recognition of the necessity to protect natural resources and national culture.

Atahualpa, Last King of the Inca

Brooklyn Museum/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In 1532, Atahualpa defeated his brother Huascar in a bloody civil war that left the mighty Inca Empire in ruins. Atahualpa had three mighty armies commanded by skilled generals, the support of the northern half of the Empire, and the key city of Cuzco had just fallen. As Atahualpa basked in his victory and planned how to rule his Empire, he was unaware that a far greater threat than Huascar was approaching from the west: Francisco Pizarro and 160 ruthless, greedy Spanish conquistadors.


Ecuador has been the world's largest exporter of bananas. Just check the label on your Chiquitas from time to time.

Even with that distinction, the bananas are surpassed as the #1 export by petroleum, which counts for around half the total export earnings for the country.  

  • cut flowers including roses and orchids
  • cacao (chocolate) 
  • shrimp 
  • wood 
  • hemp
  • fish

Fun Facts About Ecuador

1. Ecuador was the first country in the world to recognize the rights of nature

One of the first Ecuador facts I want to mention is perhaps the most important one. The country recognized that, you know, nature has a right to grow and flourish. It also recognized the right of actual humans to petition or protest on nature’s behalf. And it also highlighted the responsibility of the government to step in to protect nature. This occurred in 2008.

2. Ecuador was part of the Inca Empire

This is an interesting Ecuador fact. Though centered in Cusco, and with their home base mainly in Peru, the Inca Empire stretched a long way. Ecuador was one of those places. It became part of the Inca Empire in 1463, but the indigenous people of the area didn’t submit without a fight. The tribes here were already reasonably developed and weren’t interested in having an outsider rule them. Cue years of fighting.

3. The Spanish captured the Incan Emperor in Ecuador

That was in 1533. The new emperor Atahualpa (victor, by way of killing a lot of his family, of the Inca Civil War) was ransomed a “Ransom Room” was stacked with silver and gold, but he wasn’t released. The Spanish held a mock trial then executed him. Then the rest of the Inca Empire fell. Ecuador gained independence in 1822 after a two-year war.

4. Amazonian and Cayapas people resisted both Inca and Spanish rule

As a result, they were able to keep their language and culture pretty intact well into the 21st century. You may have heard of Amazonian, but Cayapas? They’re based in and around the rainforests on the northern coast of Ecuador.

5. The equator runs through Ecuador

Another one of those fun facts about Ecuador that most people know. It’s a pretty obvious fact about Ecuador, but yeah – in case you didn’t know, the equator practically splits the country in two. Its official name is “Republica del Ecuador” – the Republic of the Equator.

6. Because of that, the daylight hours are pretty regular

Being basically on the equator, Ecuador’s sunrise and sunset remain virtually the same throughout the whole year. The sun rises at 6 am, the sun sets at 6 pm. Twelve hours of light, twelve hours of night. Super equal.

7. From 1972 to 1979 Ecuador had a succession of military dictatorships

There was a military coup in 1972, led by General Guillermo Rodriguez, overthrowing five-time president Velasco Ibarra. Then there was a military junta in 1976, led by Admiral Alfredo Poveda, that got rid of the previous military junta. Before the next junta came along, a colonel proposed democratic elections. Jaime Roldos Aguilera won the most votes of any Ecuadorian election ever.

8. Ecuador is more biodiverse per square kilometer than any other nation

This is a cool, fun fact about Ecuador. There are so many species represented here. It’s one of the world’s 17 most biodiverse countries, though it tops the world for the density of its biodiversity. We’re talking tens of thousands of bird species alone (15% of the world’s bird species)! There are many endemic species here, too the Galapagos alone has 38, but there are also 106 reptiles and 138 amphibians endemic to Ecuador.

9. Ecuador is where you’ll find the Galapagos Islands

Yep. The Galapagos. They sit around 1,000 kilometers west of Ecuador’s mainland in the Pacific Ocean. These biodiverse islands are super famous for their endemic species, such as the Galapagos land iguana, the Galapagos penguin, and the largest living species of tortoise (the Galapagos tortoise, of course), to name just a few.

10. Charles Darwin came up with his Theory of Evolution in the Galapagos

One of the most interesting facts about Ecuador is this one. Looking at all the different kinds of finches that lived in the Galapagos Islands, Darwin had a eureka moment when he noticed their beaks were all specialized to what the birds were eating, or what particular island they lived on. Skip a few years on, and Darwin had his theory down to a T.

11. Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world

This is one of my favorite fun facts about Ecuador. That’s right – this is such a fun Ecuador fact to know before you go! At 9,350 feet above sea level, it’s pretty high. Not only is it the Ecuadorian capital, it’s also the nation’s largest. The highest capital in the world is La Paz. But what Quito has that La Paz doesn’t is another distinction: being the closest capital city to the equator. Boom.

12. Quito’s historic center is one of the best-preserved in the Americas

Not just in Ecuador, not just in South America, but in all the Americas. The historic center here has hardly been changed. In fact, it’s so impressive that – along with Krakow, Poland – it was one of the first “old towns” to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

13. And just nearby the capital is a very tall volcano

Cotopaxi may only be the second-highest peak in Ecuador, but it’s one of the tallest volcanoes in the world, at 19,347 ft. It looks cool too, like an Ecuadorian Fuji. In the last 50 years, it’s erupted more than 50 times. For math fans, that’s more than one eruption per year on average.

14. Mount Chimborazo is the tallest mountain in Ecuador

Its summit is 20,560 feet above sea level. But because of the shape of the planet (not a sphere but an oblate spheroid) and being basically on the widest part of the Earth – because of being on the equator and all – the summit of Chimborazo is the furthest you can possibly get from the center of the Earth. Now that is a wild fact about Ecuador.

15. Ecuador is bananas for bananas (my favorite Ecuador fact)

One of my favorite Ecuador facts is this one! Well, it’s more like Ecuador is bananas for exporting bananas, actually it’s the world’s highest exporter of bananas. Chances are the banana you’re eating right now is from Ecuador. It might not be, but it also has a high probability of being from the Republic of the Equator. Bananas account for 12.1% of the country’s exports.

16. But 40% of its exports consist of crude oil

And Ecuador has a lot of it. Oil is a significant part of the nation’s economy they produce 520,000 barrels a day. A lot of it goes to the USA. It was partly the actions and impact of the oil industry that made Ecuador recognize the rights of nature.

17. The official language of Ecuador is Spanish

Yep, not much of a surprising fact about Ecuador, but around 93% of the population speaks Spanish. However, many people also speak Amerindian languages, such as Quechua (the language of the Quecha people), or other native languages such Awapit, Paicoca, Cayapa, A’ingae, Tsa’fiki, and Wao Tededeo.

18. The “national genre of music” in Ecuador is Pasillo

It’s a blend of indigenous and Latin musical traditions, with European flavors mixed in Pasillo has a broken-hearted, nostalgic feeling, often describing the beauty of the country. Still popular to this day, towns and villages across Ecuador have their own take on Pasillo – as well as dances to go with it.

19. One of the most popular street foods in Ecuador is hornado

A foodie fun fact about Ecuador for you now: Hornado is pork. Well, it’s a pig cooked whole on a spit, served with llapingacho (fried potato pancakes) and corn, with vegetables on the side too. There are loads of other types of street food, such as patacones (refried plantains) and seco de chivo (goat stew).

20. One of the earliest examples of Ecuadorian literature was the work of Jacinto Collahuazo

The 1600s – a time in which the native “language” of talking via knots called quipu was banned by the Spanish. Jacinto Collahuazo, chief of a village in Ibarra, taught himself to write and decided to record Inca stories – but in the Quechua language. His work was found, burned, and he was imprisoned. Centuries later, masons found a manuscript written by Collahuazo hidden in the walls of a church in Quito it was a tale of the sadness Inca people felt losing their emperor, Atahualpa.

21. There’s a community of African descent in Ecuador with an amazing story

A Jesuit slave ship bound for Ecuador ran aground in the 17th century. Those on board being transported to be used as slaves swam ashore and escaped through the jungle, led by a chief named Anton. They maintained their freedom. Their descendants live in the Chota Valley, which spans the Carchi, Esmeraldas, and Imbabura provinces.

22. The official currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar

That’s right even though it’s not US territory, the official currency of Ecuador is actually the US dollar. A bill was signed in 2000, making the US dollar the main currency. It replaced the sucre, 25,000 of which were worth just $1. This is one of those Ecuador facts that is super important for those traveling there.

23. There’s an iguana park in Ecuador

For a weird little fact about Ecuador, we head to Parque Seminario in Guayaquil. Hundreds of iguanas have, for some reason, made this park home. They wander around, sunbathe, and watch people watching them. It’s not a zoo it’s an actual city park. There are vendors selling lettuce you can feed to the iguanas. Of course, this park is also known as Parque de las Iguanas.

24. Ecuadorian garbage trucks play music

This is one of those fun facts about Ecuador I couldn’t miss. Yes, they play songs like old-school ice cream trucks. So if you’re awakened by that music box kinda sound at 6 am, you won’t have to wonder who’s getting a popsicle it’s just the garbage man. Gas and water trucks also play music, you know, just in case you need more. That’s life in Ecuador.

25. Ecuador has a national fruit

It’s called the guanabana, and it’s a spiky, green, sour fruit called a “soursop” in English. But being a firmly tropical country, and with all that volcanic soil, Ecuador is pretty well situated to grow a whole load of tasty fruit. Avocados, mangos, plums, pitahaya (like a dragon fruit but yellow), mora (like a blackberry), and more known and unknown fruits besides.

26. A 15th birthday for girls in Ecuador is called a quinceanera

Sweet 16 may be more of a thing elsewhere, but in Ecuador, it’s one year earlier. Part of Mesoamerican culture, turning 15 is like a coming of age. In Ecuador, the father accompanies the daughter there’s a waltz sort of like a first dance, then there’s more dancing, food, even more dancing, a “surprise” dance, toasts, cake-cutting, speeches… It’s a big deal!

27. Panama hats originate in Ecuador

Fun fact about Ecuador: those straw hats widely known as “Panama hats” aren’t from Panama at all they’re from Ecuador, and they’re less commonly, known as “Ecuadorian hats.” The art of weaving one out of toquilla palm has been recognized by UNESCO. Why the confusion? Roosevelt was pictured wearing one when he went to see the progress of the Panama Canal, so there you go.

28. Voting is compulsory in Ecuador

Yep. You have no choice in not having a choice: you must vote – which is a super interesting fact about Ecuador! This is thanks to a law passed all the way back in 1936. Even after the 1970s dictatorships, this law came back into place. It’s compulsory between the ages of 18 and 65. But you can actually vote from as young as 16 if you want to. Even if you’re a foreigner, once you’ve registered to vote, you have to vote!

29. Ecuador is made up of four distinct regions

There’s La Costa – that’s easy the coast. It’s full of fertile land and is where a lot of bananas and rice are grown. Then there’s La Sierra these are the highlands, comprising the Andes (home to volcanoes, tall peaks, and a lot of potato-growing). La Amazonia – or El Oriente – consists of the Amazon, national parks, and is home to Amazonian tribes (and oil). Then there’s La Region Insular, i.e., the Galapagos, which needs no introduction.

30. Measuring the equator began in Ecuador

In 1736, French astronomers started to calculate where the equator – the imaginary line halving the Earth – would be. They made a pretty accurate measurement of the Earth, so accurate, in fact, that they were also able to prove that the world was far from a perfect sphere. (Obviously, modern techniques have refined this measurement).

About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.


The country's name means "Equator" in Spanish, truncated from the Spanish official name, República del Ecuador (lit. "Republic of the Equator"), derived from the former Ecuador Department of Gran Colombia established in 1824 as a division of the former territory of the Royal Audience of Quito. Quito, which remained the capital of the department and republic, is located only about 40 kilometres (25 mi), ¼ of a degree, south of the equator.

Pre-Inca era Edit

Various peoples had settled in the area of future Ecuador before the arrival of the Incas. The archeological evidence suggests that the Paleo-Indians' first dispersal into the Americas occurred near the end of the last glacial period, around 16,500–13,000 years ago. The first Indians who reached Ecuador may have journeyed by land from North and Central America or by boat down the Pacific Ocean coastline. Much later migrations to Ecuador may have come via the Amazon tributaries, others descended from northern South America, and others ascended from the southern part of South America through the Andes. They developed different languages while emerging as unique ethnic groups.

Even though their languages were unrelated, these groups developed similar groups of cultures, each based in different environments. 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 mode of existence.

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 arose in 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 civilisation developed its own distinctive architecture, pottery, and religious interests.

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

Inca era Edit

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 them into the Inca Empire. The native confederations that gave them the most problems were deported to distant areas of Peru, Bolivia, and north Argentina. Similarly, a number of loyal Inca subjects from Peru and Bolivia were brought 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 indigenous people more hostile. Moreover, when the Incas tried to subdue them, these indigenous people withdrew to the interior and resorted to guerrilla tactics. As a result, Inca expansion into the Amazon Basin and the Pacific coast of Ecuador was hampered. The indigenous people of the Amazon jungle and coastal Ecuador remained relatively autonomous until the Spanish soldiers and missionaries arrived in force. The Amazonian people 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 claimed that Huayna Capac gave a verbal decree before his death 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 Huáscar, who was to rule from Cuzco. He willed that his heart be buried in Quito, his favorite city, and the rest of his body be buried with his ancestors in Cuzco.

Huáscar did not recognize his father's will, since it did not follow Inca traditions of naming an Inca through the priests. Huáscar ordered Atahualpa to attend their 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 Huáscar, and a civil war ensued. A number of bloody battles took place until finally Huáscar was captured. Atahualpa marched south to Cuzco and massacred the royal family associated with his brother.

In 1532, 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. But, after a mock trial, the Spaniards executed Atahualpa by strangulation.

Spanish colonization Edit

New infectious diseases such as smallpox, endemic to the Europeans, caused high fatalities among the Amerindian population during the first decades of Spanish rule, as they had no immunity. At the same time, the natives 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.

The 1797 Riobamba earthquake, which caused up to 40,000 casualties, was studied by Alexander von Humboldt, when he visited the area in 1801–1802. [23]

After nearly 300 years of Spanish rule, Quito was still a small city numbering 10,000 inhabitants. On August 10, 1809, the city's criollos called for independence from Spain (first among the peoples of Latin America). They were led by Juan Pío Montúfar, Quiroga, Salinas, and Bishop Cuero y Caicedo. Quito's nickname, "Luz de América" ("Light of America"), is based on its leading role in trying to secure an independent, local government. Although the new government lasted no more than two months, it had important repercussions and was an inspiration for the independence movement of the rest of Spanish America. August 10 is now celebrated as Independence Day, a national holiday. [24]

Independence Edit

On October 9, 1820, the Department of Guayaquil became the first territory in Ecuador to gain its independence from Spain, and it spawned most of the Ecuadorian coastal provinces, establishing itself as an independent state. Its inhabitants celebrated what is now Ecuador's official Independence Day 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, also including modern-day Colombia, Venezuela and Panama. In 1830, Ecuador separated from Gran Colombia and became an independent republic. Two years later, it annexed the Galapagos Islands. [25]

The 19th century was marked by instability for Ecuador with a rapid succession of rulers. The first president of Ecuador was the Venezuelan-born Juan José Flores, who was ultimately deposed, followed by several 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 García 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.

Ecuador abolished slavery and freed its black slaves in 1851. [26]

Liberal Revolution Edit

The Liberal Revolution of 1895 under Eloy Alfaro reduced the power of the clergy and the conservative land owners. 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 Edit

President Juan José Flores de jure territorial claims Edit

Since Ecuador's separation from Colombia on May 13, 1830, its first President, General Juan José Flores, laid claim to the territory that was called the Real Audiencia of Quito, also referred to as the Presidencia of Quito. He supported his claims with Spanish Royal decrees or Real Cedulas, that delineated the borders of Spain's former overseas colonies. In the case of Ecuador, Flores-based Ecuador's de jure claims on the following cedulas - Real Cedula of 1563, 1739, and 1740 with modifications in the Amazon Basin and Andes Mountains that were introduced through the Treaty of Guayaquil (1829) which Peru reluctantly signed, after the overwhelmingly outnumbered Gran Colombian force led by Antonio José de Sucre defeated President and General La Mar's Peruvian invasion force in the Battle of Tarqui. In addition, Ecuador's eastern border with the Portuguese colony of Brazil in the Amazon Basin was modified before the wars of Independence by the First Treaty of San Ildefonso (1777) between the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. Moreover, to add legitimacy to his claims, on February 16, 1840, Flores signed a treaty with Spain, whereby Flores convinced Spain to officially recognize Ecuadorian independence and its sole rights to colonial titles over Spain's former colonial territory known anciently to Spain as the Kingdom and Presidency of Quito.

Ecuador during its long and turbulent history has lost most of its contested territories to each of its more powerful neighbors, such as Colombia in 1832 and 1916, Brazil in 1904 through a series of peaceful treaties, and Peru after a short war in which the Protocol of Rio de Janeiro was signed in 1942.

Struggle for independence Edit

During the struggle for independence, before Peru or Ecuador became independent nations, 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 the independent cities of Tumbez and Jaén with the intention of using these towns as springboards to occupy the independent city of Guayaquil and then to liberate 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 future republic of Peru, since it had been part of the Inca Empire before the Spaniards conquered it.

However, Bolívar'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 from the Andes mountains and occupied Guayaquil they also 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 to the rest of Audiencia of Quito (Ecuador) and to the future republic of Peru. Historic documents repeatedly stated that San Martin told Bolivar he came to Guayaquil to liberate the land of the Incas from Spain. Bolivar countered by sending a message from Guayaquil welcoming San Martin and his troops to Colombian soil.

Peruvian occupation of Jaén, Tumbes, and Guayaquil Edit

In the south, Ecuador had de jure claims to a small piece of land beside the Pacific Ocean known as Tumbes which lay between the Zarumilla and Tumbes rivers. In Ecuador's southern Andes Mountain region where the Marañon cuts across, Ecuador had de jure claims to an area it called Jaén de Bracamoros. These areas were included as part of the territory of Gran Colombia by Bolivar on December 17, 1819, during the Congress of Angostura when the Republic of Gran Colombia was created. Tumbes declared itself independent from Spain on January 17, 1821, and Jaen de Bracamoros on June 17, 1821, without any outside help from revolutionary armies. However, that same year, 1821, Peruvian forces participating in the Trujillo revolution occupied both Jaen and Tumbes. Some Peruvian generals, without any legal titles backing them up and with Ecuador still federated with the Gran Colombia, had the desire to annex Ecuador to the Republic of Peru at the expense of the Gran Colombia, feeling that Ecuador was once part of the Inca Empire.

On July 28, 1821, Peruvian independence was proclaimed in Lima by the Liberator San Martin, and Tumbes and Jaen, which were included as part of the revolution of Trujillo by the Peruvian occupying force, had the whole region swear allegiance to the new Peruvian flag and incorporated itself into Peru, even though Peru was not completely liberated from Spain. After Peru was completely liberated from Spain by the patriot armies led by Bolivar and Antonio Jose de Sucre at the Battle of Ayacucho dated December 9, 1824, there was a strong desire by some Peruvians to resurrect the Inca Empire and to include Bolivia and Ecuador. One of these Peruvian Generals was the Ecuadorian-born José de La Mar, who became one of Peru's presidents after Bolivar resigned as dictator of Peru and returned to Colombia. Gran Colombia had always protested Peru for the return of Jaen and Tumbes for almost a decade, then finally Bolivar after long and futile discussion over the return of Jaen, Tumbes, and part of Mainas, declared war. President and General José de La Mar, who was born in Ecuador, believing his opportunity had come to annex the District of Ecuador to Peru, personally, with a Peruvian force, invaded and occupied Guayaquil and a few cities in the Loja region of southern Ecuador on November 28, 1828.

The war ended when a triumphant heavily outnumbered southern Gran Colombian army at Battle of Tarqui dated February 27, 1829, led by Antonio José de Sucre, defeated the Peruvian invasion force led by President La Mar. This defeat led to the signing of the Treaty of Guayaquil dated September 22, 1829, whereby Peru and its Congress recognized Gran Colombian rights over Tumbes, Jaen, and Maynas. Through protocolized meetings between representatives of Peru and Gran Colombia, the border was set as Tumbes river in the west and in the east the Maranon and Amazon rivers were to be followed toward Brazil as the most natural borders between them. However, what was pending was whether the new border around the Jaen region should follow the Chinchipe River or the Huancabamba River. According to the peace negotiations Peru agreed to return Guayaquil, Tumbez, and Jaén despite this, Peru returned Guayaquil, but failed to return Tumbes and Jaén, alleging that it was not obligated to follow the agreements, since the Gran Colombia ceased to exist when it divided itself into three different nations - Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela.

The dissolution of Gran Colombia Edit

The Central District of the Gran Colombia, known as Cundinamarca or New Granada (modern Colombia) with its capital in Bogota, did not recognize the separation of the Southern District of the Gran Colombia, with its capital in Quito, from the Gran Colombian federation on May 13, 1830. After Ecuador's separation, the Department of Cauca voluntarily decided to unite itself with Ecuador due to instability in the central government of Bogota. The Venezuelan born President of Ecuador, the general Juan José Flores, with the approval of the Ecuadorian congress annexed the Department of Cauca on December 20, 1830, since the government of Cauca had called for union with the District of the South as far back as April 1830. Moreover, the Cauca region, throughout its long history, had very strong economic and cultural ties with the people of Ecuador. Also, the Cauca region, which included such cities as Pasto, Popayán, and Buenaventura, had always been dependent on the Presidencia or Audiencia of Quito.

Fruitless negotiations continued between the governments of Bogotá and Quito, where the government of Bogotá did not recognize the separation of Ecuador or that of Cauca from the Gran Colombia until war broke out in May 1832. In five months, New Granada defeated Ecuador due to the fact that the majority of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces were composed of rebellious angry unpaid veterans from Venezuela and Colombia that did not want to fight against their fellow countrymen. Seeing that his officers were rebelling, mutinying, and changing sides, President Flores had no option but to reluctantly make peace with New Granada. The Treaty of Pasto of 1832 was signed by which the Department of Cauca was turned over to New Granada (modern Colombia), the government of Bogotá recognized Ecuador as an independent country and the border was to follow the Ley de División Territorial de la República de Colombia (Law of the Division of Territory of the Gran Colombia) passed on June 25, 1824. This law set the border at the river Carchi and the eastern border that stretched to Brazil at the Caquetá river. Later, Ecuador contended that the Republic of Colombia, while reorganizing its government, unlawfully made its eastern border provisional and that Colombia extended its claims south to the Napo River because it said that the Government of Popayán extended its control all the way to the Napo River.

Struggle for possession of the Amazon Basin Edit

When Ecuador seceded from the Gran Colombia, Peru decided not to follow the treaty of Guayaquil of 1829 or the protocoled agreements made. Peru contested Ecuador's claims with the newly discovered Real Cedula of 1802, by which Peru claims the King of Spain had transferred these lands from the Viceroyalty of New Granada to the Viceroyalty of Peru. During colonial times this was to halt the ever-expanding Portuguese settlements into Spanish domains, which were left vacant and in disorder after the expulsion of Jesuit missionaries from their bases along the Amazon Basin. Ecuador countered by labeling the Cedula of 1802 an ecclesiastical instrument, which had nothing to do with political borders. Peru began its de facto occupation of disputed Amazonian territories, after it signed a secret 1851 peace treaty in favor 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.

Peru began occupying the defenseless missionary villages in the Mainas or Maynas region, which it began calling Loreto, with its capital in Iquitos. 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 in 1853 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.

In the early part of the 20th century, Ecuador made an effort to peacefully define its eastern Amazonian borders with its neighbours through negotiation. On May 6, 1904, Ecuador signed the Tobar-Rio Branco Treaty recognizing Brazil's claims to the Amazon in recognition of Ecuador's claim to be an Amazonian country to counter Peru's earlier Treaty with Brazil back on October 23, 1851. Then after a few meetings with the Colombian government's representatives an agreement was reached and the Muñoz Vernaza-Suarez Treaty was signed July 15, 1916, in which Colombian rights to the Putumayo river were recognized as well as Ecuador's rights to the Napo river and the new border was a line that ran midpoint between those two rivers. In this way, Ecuador gave up the claims it had to the Amazonian territories between the Caquetá River and Napo River to Colombia, thus cutting itself off from Brazil. Later, a brief war erupted between Colombia and Peru, over Peru's claims to the Caquetá region, which ended with Peru reluctantly signing the Salomon-Lozano Treaty on March 24, 1922. Ecuador protested this secret treaty, since Colombia gave away Ecuadorian claimed land to Peru that Ecuador had given to Colombia in 1916.

On July 21, 1924, the Ponce-Castro Oyanguren Protocol was signed between Ecuador and Peru where both agreed to hold direct negotiations and to resolve the dispute in an equitable manner and to submit the differing points of the dispute to the United States for arbitration. Negotiations between the Ecuadorian and Peruvian representatives began in Washington on September 30, 1935. These negotiations were long and tiresome. Both sides logically presented their cases, but no one seemed to give up their claims. Then on February 6, 1937, Ecuador presented a transactional line which Peru rejected the next day. The negotiations turned into intense arguments during the next 7 months and finally on September 29, 1937, the Peruvian representatives decided to break off the negotiations without submitting the dispute to arbitration because the direct negotiations were going nowhere.

Four years later 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 Ecuadorian–Peruvian 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 favor of hemispheric unity against the Axis Powers in World War II favouring 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 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. [27]

Ecuador and Peru signed the Brasilia Presidential Act peace agreement on October 26, 1998, which ended hostilities, and effectively put an end to the Western Hemisphere's longest running territorial dispute. [28] The Guarantors of the Rio Protocol (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the United States of America) ruled that the border of the undelineated zone was to be set at 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, 1 km 2 (0.39 sq mi) 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 and the multi-national MOMEP (Military Observer Mission for Ecuador and Peru) troop deployment withdrew on June 17, 1999. [28]

Military governments (1972–79) Edit

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 Edit

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 Concentración 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 by the CIA, [ citation needed ] 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 Amerindian population 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. [29]

In December 2008, president Correa declared Ecuador's national debt illegitimate, based on the argument that it was odious debt contracted by corrupt and despotic prior regimes. He announced that the country would default on over $3 billion worth of bonds he then pledged to fight creditors in international courts and succeeded in reducing the price of outstanding bonds by more than 60%. [30] He brought Ecuador into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas in June 2009. To date, Correa's administration has succeeded in reducing the high levels of poverty and unemployment in Ecuador. [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

After being elected in 2017, President Lenin Moreno's government adopted economically liberal policies: reduction of public spending, trade liberalization, flexibility of the labour code, etc. He also left the left-wing Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (Alba) in August 2018. [36] The Productive Development Act enshrines an austerity policy, and reduces the development and redistribution policies of the previous mandate. In the area of taxes, the authorities aim to "encourage the return of investors" by granting amnesty to fraudsters and proposing measures to reduce tax rates for large companies. In addition, the government waives the right to tax increases in raw material prices and foreign exchange repatriations. [37] In October 2018, the government of President Lenin Moreno cut diplomatic relations with the Nicolás Maduro regime of Venezuela, a close ally of Rafael Correa. [38] The relations with the United States improved significantly during the presidency of Lenin Moreno. In February 2020, his visit to Washington was the first meeting between an Ecuadorian and U.S. president in 17 years. [39] In June 2019, Ecuador had agreed to allow US military planes to operate from an airport on the Galapagos Islands. [40]

The 11 April 2021 election run-off vote ended in a win for conservative former banker, Guillermo Lasso, taking 52.4% of the vote compared to 47.6% of left-wing economist Andrés Arauz, supported by exiled former president, Rafael Correa. Previously, President-elect Lasso finished second in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections. [41] On 24 May 2021, Guillermo Lasso was sworn in as the new President of Ecuador, becoming the country's first right-wing leader in 14 years. [42] However, President Lasso´s party CREO Movement, and its ally the Social Christian Party (PSC) secured only 31 parliamentary seats out of 137, while the Union for Hope (UNES) of Andrés Arauz was the strongest parliamentary group with 49 seats, meaning the new president needs support from Izquierda Democrática (18 seats) and the indigenist Pachakutik (27 seats) to push through his legislative agenda. [43]

2019 state of emergency Edit

A series of protests began on 3 October 2019 against the end of fuel subsidies and austerity measures adopted by President of Ecuador Lenín Moreno and his administration. On 10 October, protesters overran the capital Quito causing the Government of Ecuador to relocate to Guayaquil, [44] but it was reported that the government still had plans to return to Quito. [45]

The Ecuadorian State consists of five branches of government: the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, the Electoral Branch, and Transparency and Social Control.

Ecuador is governed by a democratically elected president, for a four-year term. The current president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, 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. [46]

The executive branch includes 23 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 Edit

The executive branch is led by the president, an office currently held by Lenín Moreno. He is accompanied by the vice-president, currently María Alejandra Muñoz, elected for four years (with the ability to be re-elected only once). As head of state and chief government official, he is responsible for public administration including the appointing of 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 Edit

The legislative branch is embodied by the National Assembly, which is headquartered in the city of Quito in the Legislative Palace, and consists of 137 assemblymen, divided into ten committees and elected for a four-year term. Fifteen national constituency elected assembly, two Assembly members elected from each province and one for every 100,000 inhabitants or fraction exceeding 150,000, according to the latest national population census. In addition, statute determines the election of assembly of regions and metropolitan districts.

Judicial branch Edit

Ecuador's judiciary has as its main body the Judicial Council, and also includes the National Court of Justice, provincial courts, and lower courts. 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 pursuant to the Judicial Code. These are elected by the Judicial Council on the basis of opposition proceedings and merits. The justice system is buttressed by the independent offices of public prosecutor and the public defender. Auxiliary organs are as follows: notaries, court auctioneers, and court receivers. Also there is a special legal regime for Amerindians.

Electoral branch Edit

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, along with the electoral court, forms the Electoral Branch which is one of Ecuador's five branches of government.

Transparency and social control branch Edit

The Transparency and Social Control consists of the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control, an ombudsman, the Comptroller General of the State, and the superintendents. Branch members hold office for five years. This branch 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.

Human rights Edit

A 2003 Amnesty International report was critical that there were scarce few prosecutions for human rights violations committed by security forces, and those only in police courts, which are not considered impartial or independent. There are allegations that the security forces routinely torture prisoners. There are reports of prisoners having died while in police custody. Sometimes the legal process can be delayed until the suspect can be released after the time limit for detention without trial is exceeded. Prisons are overcrowded and conditions in detention centers are "abominable". [47]

UN's Human Rights Council's (HRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has treated the restrictions on freedom of expression and efforts to control NGOs and recommended that Ecuador should stop the criminal sanctions for the expression of opinions, and delay in implementing judicial reforms. Ecuador rejected the recommendation on decriminalization of libel. [48]

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) President Correa has intimidated journalists and subjected them to "public denunciation and retaliatory litigation". The sentences to journalists have been years of imprisonment and millions of dollars of compensation, even though defendants have been pardoned. [48] Correa has stated he was only seeking a retraction for slanderous statements. [49]

According to HRW, Correa's government has weakened the freedom of press and independence of the judicial system. In Ecuador's current judicial system, judges are selected in a contest of merits, rather than government appointments. However, the process of selection has been criticized as biased and subjective. In particular, the final interview is said to be given "excessive weighing". Judges and prosecutors that have made decisions in favor of Correa in his lawsuits have received permanent posts, while others with better assessment grades have been rejected. [48] [50]

The laws also forbid articles and media messages that could favor or disfavor some political message or candidate. In the first half of 2012, twenty private TV or radio stations were closed down. [48]

In July 2012, the officials warned the judges that they would be sanctioned and possibly dismissed if they allowed the citizens to appeal to the protection of their constitutional rights against the state. [48]

People engaging in public protests against environmental and other issues are prosecuted for "terrorism and sabotage", which may lead to an eight-year prison sentence. [48]

Foreign affairs Edit

Ecuador joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1973 and suspended its membership in 1992. Under President Rafael Correa, the country returned to OPEC before leaving again in 2020 under the instruction of President Moreno, citing its desire to increase crude oil importation to gain more revenue. [51] [52]

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 Andean Community of Nations, and the Bank of the South (Spanish: Banco del Sur or BancoSur).

In 2017, the Ecuadorian parliament adopted a Law on human mobility. [53]

The International Organization for Migration lauds Ecuador as the first state to have established the promotion of the concept of universal citizenship in its constitution, aiming to promote the universal recognition and protection of the human rights of migrants. [54] In 2017, Ecuador signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. [55]

In March 2019, Ecuador withdrew from Union of South American Nations. Ecuador was an original member of the block, founded by left-wing governments in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2008. Ecuador also asked UNASUR to return the headquarters building of the organization, based in its capital city, Quito. [56]

Administrative divisions Edit

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

Administrative divisions of Ecuador
Province Area (km 2 ) Population (2020) [57] Capital
1 Azuay 8,189 881,394 Cuenca
2 Bolívar 4,148 209,933 Guaranda
3 Cañar 3,669 281,396 Azogues
4 Carchi 3,790 186,869 Tulcán
5 Chimborazo 5,999 524,004 Riobamba
6 Cotopaxi 6,085 488,716 Latacunga
7 El Oro 5,879 715,751 Machala
8 Esmeraldas 14,893 643,654 Esmeraldas
9 Galápagos 8,010 33,042 Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
10 Guayas 15,927 4,387,434 Guayaquil
11 Imbabura 4,611 476,257 Ibarra
12 Loja 11,100 521,154 Loja
13 Los Ríos 7,100 921,763 Babahoyo
14 Manabí 19,427 1,562,079 Portoviejo
15 Morona Santiago 23,875 196,535 Macas
16 Napo 12,476 133,705 Tena
17 Orellana 21,691 161,338 Puerto Francisco de Orellana
18 Pastaza 29,068 114,202 Puyo
19 Pichincha 9,692 3,228,233 Quito
20 Santa Elena 3,696 401,178 Santa Elena
21 Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas 4,180 458,580 Santo Domingo
22 Sucumbíos 18,612 230,503 Nueva Loja
23 Tungurahua 3,222 590,600 Ambato
24 Zamora Chinchipe 10,556 120,416 Zamora

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

Regions and planning areas Edit

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 seven regions, or zones, each shaped by the following provinces:

  • Region 1 (42,126 km 2 , or 16,265 mi 2 ): Esmeraldas, Carchi, Imbabura, and Sucumbios. Administrative city: Ibarra
  • Region 2 (43,498 km 2 , or 16,795 mi 2 ): Pichincha, Napo, and Orellana. Administrative city: Tena
  • Region 3 (44,710 km 2 , or 17,263 mi 2 ): Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Pastaza, and Cotopaxi. Administrative city: Riobamba
  • Region 4 (22,257 km 2 , or 8,594 mi 2 ): Manabí and Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas. Administrative city: Ciudad Alfaro
  • Region 5 (38,420 km 2 , or 14,834 mi 2 ): Santa Elena, Guayas, Los Ríos, Galápagos, and Bolívar. Administrative city: Milagro
  • Region 6 (38,237 km 2 , or 14,763 mi 2 ): Cañar, Azuay, and Morona Santiago. Administrative city: Cuenca
  • Region 7 (27,571 km 2 , or 10,645 mi 2 ): El Oro, Loja, and Zamora Chinchipe. Administrative city: Loja

Quito and Guayaquil are Metropolitan Districts. Galápagos, despite being included within Region 5, [58] is also under a special unit. [59]

The Ecuadorian Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas de la Republica de 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 Gran Colombia, where a sizable army was stationed in Ecuador due to border disputes with Peru, which claimed territories under its political control when it was a Spanish vice-royalty. Once 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 General Juan José Flores, first president of Ecuador of Venezuelan origin. General Jose Ma. Urbina and General Robles are examples of military figures who became presidents 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%. [60]

The icons of the Ecuadorian military forces are Marshall Antonio José de Sucre and General Eloy Alfaro.

Army Edit

The Military Academy General Eloy Alfaro (c. 1838) located in Quito is in charge to graduate the army officers. [61]

Jungle Commands Group (IWIAS) Edit

The IWIAS is a special force trained to perform exploration and military activities. This army branch is considered the best elite force of Ecuador and is conformed by indigenous of the Amazon who combine their inherital experience for jungle dominance with modern army tactics.

Navy Edit

The Ecuadorian Navy Academy (c. 1837), located in Salinas graduates the navy officers. [62]

Air Force Edit

The Air Academy "Cosme Rennella (c. 1920), also located in Salinas, graduates the air force officers. [63]

Other training academies for different military specialties are found across the country.

A Story From Ecuador: Cleaning Up God’s Creation

Armed with bags, gloves and a strong sense of purpose, about 350 Compassion-assisted children set out to clean the beaches and green spaces of their community. Samuel, Alejandra and Patricio are three of the many sponsored children from their center at a coastal Ecuadorian church who are fighting for their environment.

“I believe that as children of God, it is our duty to take care of the planet,” says Patricio.

The sponsored children and adolescents dedicate time each month to clear garbage and raise awareness as part of a church-led campaign. They are an example to the entire community of environmental stewardship.

“I think it is very important that we all clean the beaches and stop contaminating the sea, because that is where the fish and animals that are part of our food live, and if they die we would run out of food,” says Samuel.

The modernization of the local communities has led to an increase in plastic waste, especially in coastal towns. This waste often is found polluting the beaches and marine life. The aim of this campaign is to teach children the importance of taking care of their resources and valuing God’s creation!

“In the church we have learned that we must take care of God’s creation, that we must be good stewards of what God has given us, so we like to care for and clean the sea,” says Alejandra.

Facts and stats about Ecuador

Ecuador is a country in South America which, along with some of its neighboring countries, forms a part of the huge and advanced Inca Empire. When the Spanish Conquistadors came, the Inca civilization slowly began to crumble, and the former rapidly expanded inwards. Spain completed the colonization of Ecuador, then known as Quinto, in 1533.

In the 18th century, Quinto formed an alliance with the other Spanish colonies in the continent and fought against the Spaniards to gain independence. The war was won, and Gran Colombia was formed (composed of present-day Colombia, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela). However, the supposedly mighty union of countries fell apart in less than a decade, and Quinto became an independent state. However, the country adopted a new name: Republica del Ecuador, which literally means Republic of the Equator.

The size of the modern-day Ecuador has been significantly reduced from its original size mainly due to conflicts with its neighbors. The country experiences some form of political instability in the last several decades, resulting in the mid-term ouster of three of its presidents. However, significant reforms have been made and the poverty rate of the country was alleviated.

Ecuador is an oil-exporting country, although its global contribution is dwarfed by other oil exporters. Nonetheless, the oil revenues form a large part of the country’s total GDP. Economic growth is uneven and unstable, but an upward trend is perceived by major banks.

  • Agriculture 145
  • Background 8
  • Conflict 2
  • Cost of living 53
  • Crime 95
  • Culture 26
  • Disasters 3
  • Economy 3073
  • Education 665
  • Energy 797
  • Environment 217
  • Geography 87
  • Government 198
  • Health 286
  • Import 4
  • Industry 76
  • Labor 268
  • Language 6
  • Lifestyle 7
  • Media 214
  • Military 94
  • People 644
  • Religion 28
  • Sports 48
  • Terrorism 31
  • Transport 322
  • Travel 22
  • Weather 2


Colombia 590 km, Peru 1,420 km
Largest city Quito - 1,500,000
Capital city Quito - 1,500,000
Major language Spanish, indigenous languages
Major religion Christianity
Monetary unit US dollar
Alternative names Republic of Ecuador, Ecuador, Republica del Ecuador
Groups Group object, Group object, Group object, Group object, Group object, Group object

Ecuador ranks highly for:
Ecuador ranks low for:

Interesting observations about Ecuador

Ecuador is a country in South America which, along with some of its neighboring countries, forms a part of the huge and advanced Inca Empire. When the Spanish Conquistadors came, the Inca civilization slowly began to crumble, and the former rapidly expanded inwards. Spain completed the colonization of Ecuador, then known as Quinto, in 1533.

In the 18th century, Quinto formed an alliance with the other Spanish colonies in the continent and fought against the Spaniards to gain independence. The war was won, and Gran Colombia was formed (composed of present-day Colombia, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela). However, the supposedly mighty union of countries fell apart in less than a decade, and Quinto became an independent state. However, the country adopted a new name: Republica del Ecuador, which literally means Republic of the Equator.

The size of the modern-day Ecuador has been significantly reduced from its original size mainly due to conflicts with its neighbors. The country experiences some form of political instability in the last several decades, resulting in the mid-term ouster of three of its presidents. However, significant reforms have been made and the poverty rate of the country was alleviated.

Ecuador is an oil-exporting country, although its global contribution is dwarfed by other oil exporters. Nonetheless, the oil revenues form a large part of the country’s total GDP. Economic growth is uneven and unstable, but an upward trend is perceived by major banks.

10+ Ecuador Facts: Fun Trivia On the People, Culture, History & More

Looking for a few Ecuador facts? If you want to learn about the food, culture, history, or other fun facts about Ecuador, this article is for you!

Interested in learning a few fun facts about Ecuador?

Whether you’re thinking of traveling to Ecuador sometime soon or just want to know more about this amazing South American country, you’re in the right place!

Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Ecuador facts:

1. Ecuador is one of the smaller countries (size-wise) located in the northern portion of South America. With a long shoreline on the Pacific Ocean to its west, Ecuador also borders Colombia and Peru. About 620 miles (1,000 km) off its coast are the Galápagos Islands, which is also part of Ecuador.

2. Ecuador sits right on the equator, which is where it gets its name. Ecuador simply means “equator” in Spanish. Its full name is the Republic of Ecuador (República del Ecuador). The Galápagos Islands also happens to straddle the equator, as well, but in both cases, for both the mainland and the Galápagos Islands, the majority of land is located just below the equator rather than above it.

3. Spanish is the official language of Ecuador, but many more are spoken. The Quechuan language Kichwa, the Shuar language, and some others are considered as recognized regional languages which are used officially for indigenous peoples. There are about a dozen native Ecuadorian languages spoken overall, with others being Cha’palaachi, A’ingae, Awapit, Tsa’fiki, Paicoca, and Wao Tededeo.

4. Quito is the capital and largest city of Ecuador. Quito happens to be the second-highest capital city in the world right after La Paz, Bolivia, located high up in the Andes Mountains at around 9,350 ft (2,850 m) above sea level. Quito’s historic center is the largest and least-altered one in the Western Hemisphere, and it was also the first site (tied with Kraków’s center) added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list back in 1978.

5. Speaking of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ecuador is home to five. Of these five sites, three are cultural and two are natural:

  • City of Quito (cultural)
  • Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca (cultural)
  • Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System (cultural)
  • Galápagos Islands (natural)
  • Sangay National Park (natural)

6. Ecuador’s official currency is the US dollar. Until the year 2000, the sucre was the official Ecuadorian currency. However, after a tumultuous period in the 90s when its value plummeted, the president declared that USD would become Ecuador’s legal tender. To accompany USD banknotes, though, Ecuador issued its own centavo coins in 2000 in the standard coin denominations as in the US.

7. Ecuador’s population is just over 17 million inhabitants (2020 estimate). Most of the population, about 72%, are mestizos (mixed native and European ethnicity), along with over 7% each of the Montubio, Amerindian, and Black/Afro-Ecuadorian ethnic groups. The remaining population is made up of people of European descent (around 6%) and others.

8. The Galápagos Islands helped Darwin create his theory of evolution by natural selection. Charles Darwin, on the second trip of the HMS Beagle, studied the many endemic species of the Galápagos Islands and unearthing fossilized remains of extinct animals for over three years, and he took his findings back to England after, where he would hash out his theory.

9. Ecuador is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. A megadiverse country is one identified by Conservation International to hold a majority of the world’s plant and animal species. In fact, it has the more biodiversity per sq. km. than any other nation. It is home to about 15% of the entire world’s bird species (about 1,600), over 16,000 plant species, and 6,000 butterfly species, among many others.

10. Ecuador has the world’s first constitution to recognize the “rights of nature.” In its 2008 constitution (Title II, Chapter 7), Ecuador states that nature has the “right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes.” It also states that nature has the right to be restored and that the country “shall apply preventive and restrictive measures on activities that might lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of ecosystems and the permanent alteration of natural cycles.”

11. Chimborazo is an inactive stratovolcano that is the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. Because there is an equatorial bulge around our planet’s waistline, Chimborazo’s peak is actually closer to space than even Mt. Everest!

Well, that’s all our Ecuador facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Ecuador we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Christian Eilers

Christian Eilers is a travel and career advice writer who constantly loves to learn about the world through traveling, cultural stories, reading, and education. A native of New York City, when he is not traveling, he can find an abundance of cultural influences right in his own city, enough to keep him satisfied until the next country's beckon cannot be ignored any longer.

Fun and Interesting Facts about Ecuador

Ecuador is a major source of cacao. About 70% of the world’s cacao used for chocolate products comes from Ecuador each year. Ecuador is also know for their own chocolate products, with many varieties and flavors available to sample. Ecuador even has a chocolate flavored wine, marketed locally under the brand name “KKO”.


Ecuador may be small, but it is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites:

Quito – Capital city, founded in the 16th Century. This cosmopolitan town has a beautifully preserved historic district, and many great tourist destinations. Just outside of town, Mitad del Mundo, the park at the equator, is the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador.

Cuenca – Also founded in the 16th Century, Cuenca’s historic district has maintained its orthogonal town plan for over 400 years. Many beautiful parks and great examples of colonial architecture make this a wonderful place to visit or live.

Sangay National Park – This natural heritage site includes the active volcanoes of Tungurahura and Chimborazo, the latter of which is the tallest mountain in the world (measured from the center of the earth to the summit). This park has plains, glaciers, rain forest, and snow-capped peaks.

Galapagos – This cluster of islands, famous for the birthplace of Darwin’s revolutionary insights into the origins and development life, is one of the world’s “bucket list” destinations.

In addition to these four sites, there are currently no less than seven other nominations for UNESCO from Ecuador that are currently under consideration.

Fin de Año or Año Viejo

Few people enjoy a good fiesta like they do in Ecuador. One of the biggest celebrations is the one held on what North American’s consider New Years Eve. In Ecuador, they celebrate the passing of the old, rather than the start of the new. And they do it in style!

For weeks before the celebration, Ecuadorians are hard at work on monigotes. These are paper mache figures made to resemble everything from cartoon characters, political figures, sports stars, animals, or just about anything else. Some are the size of small dolls, others tower up to 20 or 30 feet tall!Elaborately decorates and painted, these effigies are then filled with scraps of clothing, notes listing things like bad habits or problems you would like to leave in the old year, and often fireworks.

As soon as it starts to get dark on December 31st, the fireworks begin. At midnight, the monigotes are piled up and set ablaze. The firework shows get even more intense, and continue until the sun comes up. In some areas, people try to leap over the flames for luck, or have traditions about what colors to wear, and more. On the beaches of Salinas, Ecuador’s most popular seaside resort, the bonfire are much to large for leaping – but wherever you are in Ecuador on December 31st, you will be treated to a fiesta you will long remember.


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