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Equador

800px-Flag_of_Ecuador.svg

Ecuador 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 is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland.Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name, and has an area of 272,046 km2 (109,483 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, 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—despite its size—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 the republic of Gran Colombia. It is a medium-income country with an HDI score of 0.695 (2010), and about 35.1% of its population lives below the poverty line.
 

History

Evidence of human cultures in Ecuador exists from circa 8800 BCE [11] 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, although 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 before the Inca invasion. After years of fiery resistance by the Cañaris and other tribes, as demonstrated by the battle of Yahuarcocha (Blood Lake) where thousands of resistance fighters were killed and thrown in the lake, the region fell to the Incan expansion and was assimilated loosely into the Incan empire.Through a succession of wars and marriages among the nations that inhabited the valley, the region became part of the Inca Empire in 1463. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived from the north, the Inca Empire was ruled by Huayna Capac, who had two sons: Atahualpa, being in charge of the northern parts of the empire, and Huascar, seated in the Incan capital Cusco. Upon Huayna Capac's death in 1525, the empire was divided in two: Atahualpa received the north, with his capital in Quito; Huascar received the south, with its capital in Cusco. In 1530, Atahualpa defeated his own brother, Huascar, and claimed control over the entire empire. Atahualpa's victory was short-lived as he was soon captured by the Spanish conquistadors in Cajamarca, and later executed for the murder of his brother.Disease decimated 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 there, on August 10, 1809 (the national holiday), that the first call for independence from Spain was made in Latin America ("Primer Grito de la Independencia"), 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 it was the first successful attempt to produce an independent and local government, although for no more than two months, that had an important repercussion and inspiration for the emancipation of the rest of Spanish America. Quito is also known as "Carita de Dios" ("The Face of God") for the beauty of its religious colonial art and architecture cloistered in the amazing equatorial Andes landscape.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,800px-Quito-San_Diego-01 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.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.Control over territory in the Amazon basin led to a long-lasting dispute between Ecuador and Peru. In 1941, amid fast-growing tensions between the two countries, war broke out. Peru claimed that Ecuador's military presence in Peruvian-claimed territory was an invasion; Ecuador, for its part, claimed that Peru had invaded Ecuador. 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.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 as their strong hold all the time during the conflict. The final border demarcation came into effect on May 13, 1999.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.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,[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 1990.

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Basilica del Voto Nacional- Quito

Geography and Climate

Ecuador lies between latitudes 2°N and 5°S, and longitudes 75° and 92°W.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 (6,310 m above sea level) is considered to be the most distant point from the centre of the earth, given the ovoid 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 incoastal and Rain Forests 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.

Biodiversity

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 Galapagos Islands, for which the country is most well 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 the800px-Waved_albatross_courtship 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 Galapagos 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.

Transportation

Ecuador has a network of national highways maintained by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Comunicaciones (Ministry of Public Works and Communication). The Pan-American Highway connects the northern and southern portions of the country as well as connecting Ecuador with Colombia to the north and Peru to the south. The quality of roads, even on truck routes, is highly variable.There is an extensive network of intercity buses that use these mountain roads and highways. The most modern Ecuadorian Highway connects Guayaquil with Salinas.The Empresa de Ferrocarriles Ecuatorianos is the Ecuadorian national railway. The Interandean Railroad is essentially defunct; only the short "devil's nose" section is usable. Tourists usually board the train in Alausí, although some opt for a longer trip from Riobamba (if available).

Culture

Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its Hispanic mestizo majority and, like their ancestry, is traditionally of Spanish heritage influenced at different degrees with Amerindian traditions and in some cases with African elements.The first and most substantial wave of modern immigration to ecuador consisted of Spanish colonists, following the arrival of Europeans in 1499. However a low 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 "Terra Firme" (South-America) given the subjugation of the indigenous people through evangelism and encomiendas, the minor African descendant elements are found in the northern provinces of Esmeraldas and Imbabura thanks to the 17th century shipwreck of a slave-trading galleon in front of 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 while maintaining their original culture not influenced by the typical elements found on other provinces of the coast or in the Andean region.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 first or second language by more than 98%. One 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.

Cuisine

Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with 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.n 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 shrimp and lobster being key parts of the diet. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals. Churrasco is a staple food of the Coast Region specially 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.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. This region is a lead producer of bananas, cacao beans (to make chocolate), shrimp, tilapia, mangos and passion fruit, among other products.

Currency

Since 2003 the currency in Equdor is the US Dollar.

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Center of Quito

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