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Ecuador Country Information

Background:
The "Republic of the Equator" was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Venezuela). 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.

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

Area: total: 283,560 sq km (includes Galapagos Islands)
Water: 6,720 sq km
Land: 276,840 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Nevada

Border countries: Colombia, Peru

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)

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Chimborazo 6,267 m
Note: Cotopaxi in Andes is highest active volcano in world

Natural resources: petroleum, fish, timber, hydropower

People
Population: 13,212,742
Age structure: 0-14 years: 33.9% (male 2,285,775; female 2,199,356)
15-64 years: 61.2% (male 4,020,873; female 4,062,672)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 302,129; female 341,937)
Median age: 23 years
Population growth rate: 1.03%
Life expectancy at birth: male: 73.15 years
female: 79 years (2004 est.)

Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 65%, Amerindian 25%, Spanish and others 7%, black 3%
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%

Languages: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): total population: 92.5%

Government
Country name: Republic of Ecuador
Government type: republic
Capital: Quito
Independence: 24 May 1822 (from Spain)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal, compulsory for literate persons ages 18-65, optional for other eligible voters

Executive branch: chief of state: President Lucio GUTIERREZ (since 15 January 2003); Vice President Alfredo PALACIO (since 15 January 2003); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch: unicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional (100 seats; members are popularly elected by province to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (new justices are elected by the full Supreme Court)

Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Raul GANGOTENA Rivadeneira consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 667-3482
telephone: [1] (202) 234-7200

Embassy: Avenida 12 de Octubre y Avenida Patria, Quito
mailing address: APO AA 34039
telephone: [593] (2) 256-2890
FAX: [593] (2) 250-2052

Economy
Overview: Ecuador has substantial petroleum resources, which have accounted for 40% of the country's export earnings and one-fourth of public sector revenues in recent years. Consequently, fluctuations in world market prices can have a substantial domestic impact. In the late 1990s, Ecuador suffered its worst economic crisis, with natural disasters and sharp declines in world petroleum prices driving Ecuador's economy into free fall in 1999. Real GDP contracted by more than 6%, with poverty worsening significantly. The banking system also collapsed, and Ecuador defaulted on its external debt later that year. The currency depreciated by some 70% in 1999, and, on the brink of hyperinflation, the MAHAUD government announced it would dollarize the economy. A coup, however, ousted MAHAUD from office in January 2000, and after a short-lived junta failed to garner military support, Vice President Gustavo NOBOA took over the presidency. In March 2000, Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided the framework for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Dollarization stabilized the economy, and growth returned to its pre-crisis levels in the years that followed. Under the administration of Lucio GUTIERREZ, who took office in January 2003, Ecuador benefited from higher world petroleum prices, but the government has made little progress on fiscal reforms and reforms of state-owned enterprises necessary to reduce Ecuador's vulnerability to petroleum price swings and financial crises.

Population below poverty line: 65% (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 9.8%; note - underemployment of 47% (2003 est.)

Agriculture - products: bananas, coffee, cocoa, rice, potatoes, manioc (tapioca), plantains, sugarcane; cattle, sheep, pigs, beef, pork, dairy products; balsa wood; fish, shrimp Industries: petroleum, food processing, textiles, wood products, chemicals

Exports - commodities: petroleum, bananas, cut flowers, shrimp

Currency: US dollar (USD) (Ecuador formally adopted the US dollar as legal tender in March 2000)

Communications
Telephone system: general assessment: generally elementary but being expanded
domestic: facilities generally inadequate and unreliable
international: country code - 593



All information on this page provided by The World Factbook. See http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html.
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