Ecuador

 

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 favour of the “Republic of the Equator.” Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbours.

 

A border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999. Although Ecuador marked 25 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period has been marred by political instability. Protests in Quito have contributed to the mid-term ouster of Ecuador’s last three democratically elected Presidents. In 2007, a Constituent Assembly was elected to draft a new constitution; Ecuador’s twentieth since gaining independence.

 

Geography:
Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru
Geographic coordinates: 2 00 S, 77 30 W
People:
Population: 15,223,680 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.1% (male 2,301,840/female 2,209,971)

15-64 years: 63.5% (male 4,699,548/female 4,831,521)

65 years and over: 6.4% (male 463,481/female 500,982) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total: 26 years

male: 25.4 years

female: 26.6 years (2012 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Ecuador

conventional short form: Ecuador

local long form: Republica del Ecuador

local short form: Ecuador

Government type: republic
Capital: name: Quito

geographic coordinates: 0 13 S, 78 30 W

time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 2.211 million (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 15.333 million (2011)
Transportation:
Airports: 431 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 101

over 3,047 m: 3

2,438 to 3,047 m: 5

1,524 to 2,437 m: 18

914 to 1,523 m: 23

under 914 m: 52 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Naval Infantry, Naval Aviation, Coast Guard), Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana, FAE) (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 20 years of age for selective conscript military service; 12-month service obligation (2008)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 3,728,906

females age 16-49: 3,844,918 (2010 est.)

Economy:

Ecuador is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources, which have accounted for more than half of the country’s export earnings and one-fourth of public sector revenues in recent years. In 1999/2000, Ecuador suffered a severe economic crisis, with GDP contracted by more than 6%, with a significant increase in poverty. The banking system also collapsed, and Ecuador defaulted on its external debt later that year.

 

In March 2000, Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Dollarization stabilized the economy, and positive growth returned in the years that followed, helped by high oil prices, remittances, and increased non-traditional exports. From 2002-06 the economy grew 5.5%, the highest five-year average in 25 years. The poverty rate declined but remained high at 38% in 2006.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia penetrate across Ecuador’s shared border, which thousands of Colombians also cross to escape the violence in their home country
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 120,403 (Colombia) (2010); note – UNHCR estimates as many as 250,000 Columbians are seeking asylum in Ecuador, many of whom do not register as refugees for fear of deportation (2007)
Illicit drugs: significant transit country for cocaine originating in Colombia and Peru, with over half of the US-bound cocaine passing through Ecuadorian Pacific waters; importer of precursor chemicals used in production of illicit narcotics; attractive location for cash-placement by drug traffickers laundering money because of dollarization and weak anti-money-laundering regime; increased activity on the northern frontier by trafficking groups and Colombian insurgents