Nation at a Glance - Ecuador

History

What is now Ecuador formed part of the northern Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in 1533. Quito became a seat of Spanish colonial government in 1563 and part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717. The territories of the Viceroyalty - New Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, and Quito - gained their independence between 1819 and 1822 and formed a federation known as Gran Colombia. When Quito withdrew in 1830, the traditional name was changed in favor of the "Republic of the Equator." Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors. A border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999. Although Ecuador marked 30 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period was marred by political instability. Protests in Quito contributed to the mid-term ouster of three of Ecuador's last four democratically elected presidents. In late 2008, voters approved a new constitution, Ecuador's 20th since gaining independence. General elections were held in February 2013, and voters reelected President Rafael CORREA.

Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru

Border Countries: Colombia 708 km, Peru 1,529 km

Total Area: 283,561 sq km Land: 276,841 sq km Water: 6,720 sq km

Climate: Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands

Terrain: Coastal plain (costa), inter-Andean central highlands (sierra), and flat to rolling eastern jungle (oriente)

Natural resources: Petroleum, fish, timber, hydropower

Land use: Agricultural land: 29.7% arable land 4.7%; permanent crops 5.6%; permanent pasture 19.4% Forest: 38.9% Other: 31.4% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 71.9%, Montubio 7.4%, Amerindian 7%, White 6.1%, Afroecuadorian 4.3%, Mulato 1.9%, Black 1%, Other 0.4% (2010 est.)

Languages: Spanish (Castilian) 93% (official), Quechua 4.1%, Other indigenous 0.7%, Foreign 2.2%

Religions: Roman Catholic 74%, Evangelical 10.4%, Jehovah's Witness 1.2%, Other 6.4% (includes Mormon Buddhist, Jewish, Spiritualist, Muslim, Hindu, Indigenous religions, African American religions, Pentecostal), Atheist 7.9%, Agnostic 0.1%

Population: 16,080,778 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 94.5%; Male: 95.4%; Female: 93.5% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 24 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Azuay, Bolivar, Canar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Galapagos, Guayas, Imbabura, Loja, Los Rios, Manabi, Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Pichincha, Santa Elena, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Sucumbios, Tungurahua, Zamora-Chinchipe

Economy: Ecuador is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources, which accounted for about a third of the country's export earnings in 2017. Remittances from overseas Ecuadorian are also important. In 1999/2000, Ecuador's economy suffered from a banking crisis that lead to some reforms, including adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Dollarization stabilized the economy, and positive growth returned in most of the years that followed. The economy reached a growth rate of 6.4% in 2008, buoyed by high global petroleum prices and increased public sector investment. But, with declining oil prices during the global recession, former President Rafael CORREA Delgado defaulted in December 2008 on Ecuador's sovereign debt of approximately US$3.2 billion; in May 2009, Ecuador bought back most of its "defaulted" bonds at an average of 35% of their face value. China has become Ecuador's largest foreign lender since 2008 and now accounts for 77.7% of the Ecuador’s bilateral debt. Various economic policies under the CORREA administration, such as an announcement in 2017 that Ecuador would terminate 13 bilateral investment treaties - including one with the US, generated economic uncertainty and discouraged private investment. Faced with a 2013 trade deficit of $1.1 billion, Ecuador imposed tariff surcharges from 5% to 45% on an estimated 32% of imports. Ecuador’s economy fell into recession in 2015 and remained in recession in 2016. Declining oil prices and exports forced the CORREA administration to cut government oulays. Foreign investment in Ecuador is low as a result of the unstable regulatory environment and weak rule of law. In April 2016, the Ecuadorian coast suffered an earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale. Damage to infrastructure hurt several industries, including tourism and shrimp farms. The total cost of the recovery has been close to $2 billion. To pay for this, the government imposed additional inheritance, capital gains, and production (VAT) taxes. GDP growth from 2015 to 2016 was -1.6%, mostly due to the devastating earthquake. In April of 2017, Lenin MORENO was elected President of Ecuador by popular vote. His immediate challenge was to reengage the private sector to improve cash flow in the country. Ecuador’s economy returned to positive, but sluggish, growth. In early 2018, the MORENO administration held a public referendum on seven economic and political issues in a move counter to CORREA-administration policies, reduce corruption, strengthen democracy, and revive employment and the economy. The referendum resulted in the repeal of the taxes associated with the earthquake recovery and reduced restrictions on metal mining in the Yasuni Intangible Zone, a protected area, as well as several political reforms.

Agriculture - products: Bananas, coffee, cocoa, rice, potatoes, cassava (manioc, tapioca), plantains, sugarcane; cattle, sheep, pigs, beef, pork, dairy products; fish, shrimp; balsa wood

Industries: Petroleum, food processing, textiles, wood products, chemicals

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