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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Facts About the Country of Ecuador

Facts About the Country of Ecuador

On the equatorial west coast of South America, the country of Ecuador once was populated by the Inca civilization: is noteworthy because its topography ranges from sea level to 20,555-foot high Mount Chimborazo; and became independent from Spain in 1822.

Slightly smaller than the state of Nevada, Ecuador is home for about fourteen million people--about 38 percent of them impoverished--and gains much of its revenue from the petroleum industry.

Major dates, events, and facts about Ecuador include:

* 3,500 B.C. Earliest signs of Valdivia culture

* 100 A.D. Esmeralda, Manta, Huancavilca, and Puna people groups fish, farm, trade along coast

* 980 A.D. Prosperous Cara tribe founds Quito

* by 1500 A.D. Inca Empire based in southern Peru had conquered all of Ecuador

* 1534 Incas, beset by civil war, easy prey for Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro; Ecuador comes under Spanish rule

* 1822 Modern-day countries of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama withdraw from Spanish rule and form the Republic of Greater Colombia

* 1830 Republic of Ecuador is born

* 1941 Disastrous war with Peru; support allies in World War II

* 1967 Substantial oil reserves discovered in interior

* 1979-2004 Civilian governance and political instability

* January 2007-present under leadership of President Rafael Correa Delgado

Stretching from the Pacific Coast to the highlands of the Andes Mountains, and on to the Amazonian jungle lowlands to the east, Ecuador boasts the highest active volcano in the world, 19,393-foot high Mount Cotopaxi, located about 50 miles south of Quito.

Beset by natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, and droughts, Ecuador’s major natural resources include petroleum, fish, and timber.

The nation’s people are 65 percent Mestizo (mixed American Indian and White), claim Roman Catholic as their primary religion (95 percent), and are relatively healthy with a life expectancy after birth of nearly 77 years.

In 1999-2000, Ecuador’s economy entered a time of severe crisis. The nation’s banking system collapsed, poverty increased, Ecuador defaulted on its external debt, and within a short period of time the nation’s gross domestic product dropped by more than 6 percent. In an effort to meet that crisis, the Ecuadorian Congress adopted the U.S. dollar as legal tender, and positive results practically were immediate. During the five-year span 2002 through 2006, Ecuador’s economy grew 5.5 percent, the highest five-year average in the past 25 years.

Although Ecuador officially is listed as a Republic, its 100-member unicameral National Congress has been on indefinite recess since late 2007 while waiting for a new Constituent Assembly to convene; and its entire Supreme Court was replaced in late 2004 by a majority resolution from Congress.

Because of its geographical location between cocaine -producing countries Colombia and Peru, Ecuador, and especially its Pacific waters, provides a common illicit trafficking route for cocaine bound to the U.S.

The country of Ecuador sends 42 percent of its exports to the U.S., mostly petroleum, bananas, and cut flowers. The U.S. also is Ecuador’s largest import partner.

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