Country Information Ecuador


  • Capital: Quito
  • Area: approximately 283,560 km²
  • Population: 15.6 Mio inhabitants (2014)
  • Population density: 55 inhabitants per km²
  • Religion: 95% Roman-Catholic, Other 5%
  • Official Language: Spanish, indigenous languages
  • Government: Republic with representative democracy and multi-party system
  • Seat of Parliament: Quito
  • Climate: moderate to hot-humid tropical climate


Dimensions of the country

Ecuador is one of the smaller states in South America. With approximately 283.560 km² it is almost as big as Switzerland. It is situated in the western part of South America between Peru and Columbia. The Pacific Ocean is one its natural borders. You can divide Ecuador into 4 different zones due to its geography:

  • Coastline (Costa): low coastal mountain range and alluvium
  • Andes region (Sierra): High mountains shaped by vulcanos
  • Amazon-Area (Oriente): Amazon basin and the eastern hillsides of the Andes
  • Galapagos-Islands

The mountains of Ecuador reach heights of 5,900 m. The high valley between those two mountain ranges is on a height between 1,800 and 3,200 m. In a caldera in between lies Quito, the second highest capital of the world. The Galapagos Islands, situated approximately 1000 km from the coast, consist of 14 bigger and 100 small islands. The name goes back to the famous inhabitants of the islands, the turtles.

Population

Ecuador has a population of 13.7 million people and has therefore only a fifth of the population of Germany. Some 40% of the population are younger than 15 years and only about 5% are older than 65. The average age is 23 years and the life expectancy is at an average of 76 years. The yearly population growth rate is currently approximately 1.5%.

The population is culturally and ethnically very diverse:

  • Mestis (65 %)
  • Indian descent, e.g. Indios (25%)
  • Spanish descent (7%)
  • Black (3%)

Due to the Spanish conquest and occupation there are hardly any other immigrants and their descendants in Ecuador.

Religion

Almost 95 % of the population belongs to the Roman-Catholic Church. The Ecuadorian church is considered one of the most conservative ones in the world.

Official languages

The official language is Spanish. Moreover, there are also Indian languages, e.g. Quichua, Shuar and Chibcha.

Climate

The climate in Ecuador is very various due to the extreme regional difference and altitudes. The temperatures are relatively the same though, because of the closeness to the equator. They only vary, depending on the area, between 15°C and 35°C. Between January and May the coastal region has a distinctive rainy season. At altitudes above 4,800 m the rain falls as snow.

History

  • In 1533 the Spanish conquered the area of Ecuador
  • Ecuador became a Spanish Colony by 1563
  • On 10.08.1809 Ecuador was declared independent from Spain, 10 years of independence war followed
  • Final independence from Spain was accomplished on 22.05.1822; Ecuador created a formation of Great Colombia with the today’s states Venezuela, Columbia and the then still independent Quito.
  • On 13.05.1830 Independence from Great Colombia was obtained
  • During the years from 1904 until 1922, due to wars with neighboring countries, territory was lost, primarily to Venezuela
  • The general debt crisis in Latin America struck the country in 1983
  • In 1986/7 the OPEC crash resulted in the fall oft the oil price
  • War with Peru was fought in 1995 
  • In 1998 a new constitution was declared; it was already the 19th constitution since the foundation of the country
  • In 1999/2000 the Bank and Currency crisis happened
  • In 2000 the US Dollar as the official currency was introduced

Economy and Politics

Ecuador is, as measured by its GDP, the second poorest county in South America. The biggest economic sector is petroleum production, which has accounted to 60% of the export earnings

That is 0.6 % of the world market. More export goods from Ecuador are bananas, shrimps, metals and machines, cacao and coffee as well as cut flowers. The most important trading partners are, amongst others, the US, Peru, Columbia and Chile.

There are about 700,000 micro companies in Ecuador providing jobs for more than one million people. Sectors of these companies are commerce, service and production. Female micro entrepreneurs own restaurants or hairdressers’ shops while their male counterparts own taxi companies or garages.

Oil production was only developed in the early 1970ies. In 1967 oil was discovered in the inland and a pipeline to the Pacific Ocean was built. In 2003 a second pipeline was added, because the first one was out of order for 6 months due to an earthquake a couple of years earlier.

Ecuador is the 4th largest exporter of cut flowers in the world. Roses have the biggest part in this, accounting for almost 75% of the earnings. The flower production benefits from the equatorial sun as well as the favorable factors like land, water and work force.

Tourism is also developing into another important mainstay of the economy. The scenic diversity with e.g. mountains and the Galapagos Islands as well as the developing infrastructure help Ecuador to become an interesting travel destination for tourists from all over the world.

Political Situation

Ecuador is a republic with a representative democracy and a multi-party system. The President is the head of state and at the same time head of government. At the moment Rafael Correa holds this office. The big parties in Ecuador are the Partido Social Cristiano (PSC) and the populist Partido Roldosista Ecuatoriano (PRE) as well as the social-democratic Izquierda Demecrática (ID).

Problems:

  • Poverty
  • Corruption
  • Crime
  • Political Instability