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Ecuador Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Ecuador Map

Introduction

Background

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 April 2021, and voters elected Guillermo LASSO president; he will take office on 24 May 2021.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

2 00 S, 77 30 W

Map references

South America

Area

total: 283,561 sq km

land:276,841 sq km

water:6,720 sq km

note: includes Galapagos Islands

country comparison to the world: 75

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Nevada

Land boundaries

total: 2,237 km

border countries (2):Colombia 708 km, Peru 1529 km

Coastline

2,237 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone:200 nm

continental shelf:200 nm

note: Ecuador has declared its right to extend its continental shelf to 350 nm measured from the baselines of the Galapagos Archipelago

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

highest point: Chimborazo 6,267

lowest point:Pacific Ocean 0 m

mean elevation:1,117 m

note: because the earth is not a perfect sphere and has an equatorial bulge, the highest point on the planet farthest from its center is Mount Chimborazo not Mount Everest, which is merely the highest peak above sea level

Natural resources

petroleum, fish, timber, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 29.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 5.6% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 19.4% (2018 est.)

forest:38.9% (2018 est.)

other:31.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

15,000 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

442.4 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

nearly half of the population is concentrated in the interior in the Andean intermontane basins and valleys, with large concentrations also found along the western coastal strip; the rainforests of the east remain sparsely populated

Natural hazards

frequent earthquakes; landslides; volcanic activity; floods; periodic droughts

volcanism: volcanic activity concentrated along the Andes Mountains; Sangay (5,230 m), which erupted in 2010, is mainland Ecuador's most active volcano; other historically active volcanoes in the Andes include Antisana, Cayambe, Chacana, Cotopaxi, Guagua Pichincha, Reventador, Sumaco, and Tungurahua; Fernandina (1,476 m), a shield volcano that last erupted in 2009, is the most active of the many Galapagos volcanoes; other historically active Galapagos volcanoes include Wolf, Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul, Pinta, Marchena, and Santiago

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified:none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

note 1: Cotopaxi in Andes is highest active volcano in world

note 2: genetic research indicates that the cherry-sized tomato originated in Ecuador without any human domestication; later domestication in Mexico transformed the plant into the large modern tomato; archeological research indicates that the cacao tree, whose seeds are used to make chocolate and which was long thought to have originated in Mesoamerica, was first domesticated in the upper Amazon region of northwest South America - present-day Ecuador - about 3,300 B.C.

People and Society

Population

17,093,159 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 71

Nationality

noun: Ecuadorian(s)

adjective:Ecuadorian

Ethnic groups

Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and White) 71.9%, Montubio 7.4%, Amerindian 7%, White 6.1%, Afroecuadorian 4.3%, Mulatto 1.9%, Black 1%, other 0.4% (2010 est.)

Languages

Spanish (Castilian) 93% (official), Quechua 4.1%, other indigenous 0.7%, foreign 2.2%; note - (Quechua and Shuar are official languages of intercultural relations; other indigenous languages are in official use by indigenous peoples in the areas they inhabit) (2010 est.)

printed major-language sample:
La Libreta Informativa del Mundo, la fuente indispensable de información básica. (Spanish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Religions

Roman Catholic 74%, Evangelical 10.4%, Jehovah's Witness 1.2%, other 6.4% (includes Mormon, Buddhist, Jewish, Spiritualist, Muslim, Hindu, indigenous, African American, Pentecostal), atheist 7.9%, agnostic 0.1% (2012 est.)

note: data represent persons at least 16 years of age from five Ecuadoran cities

Demographic profile

Ecuador's high poverty and income inequality most affect indigenous, mixed race, and rural populations. The government has increased its social spending to ameliorate these problems, but critics question the efficiency and implementation of its national development plan. Nevertheless, the conditional cash transfer program, which requires participants' children to attend school and have medical check-ups, has helped improve educational attainment and healthcare among poor children. Ecuador is stalled at above replacement level fertility and the population most likely will keep growing rather than stabilize.

An estimated 2 to 3 million Ecuadorians live abroad, but increased unemployment in key receiving countries - Spain, the United States, and Italy - is slowing emigration and increasing the likelihood of returnees to Ecuador. The first large-scale emigration of Ecuadorians occurred between 1980 and 2000, when an economic crisis drove Ecuadorians from southern provinces to New York City, where they had trade contacts. A second, nationwide wave of emigration in the late 1990s was caused by another economic downturn, political instability, and a currency crisis. Spain was the logical destination because of its shared language and the wide availability of low-skilled, informal jobs at a time when increased border surveillance made illegal migration to the US difficult. Ecuador has a small but growing immigrant population and is Latin America's top recipient of refugees; 98% are neighboring Colombians fleeing violence in their country.

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Ecuador

conventional short form:Ecuador

local long form:Republica del Ecuador

local short form:Ecuador

etymology:the country's position on the globe, straddling the Equator, accounts for its Spanish name

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Quito

geographic coordinates:0 13 S, 78 30 W

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

note:Ecuador has two time zones, including the Galapagos Islands (UTC-6)

etymology:
 named after the Quitus, a Pre-Columbian indigenous people credited with founding the city

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

Independence

24 May 1822 (from Spain)

National holiday

Independence Day (independence of Quito), 10 August (1809)

Constitution

history: many previous; latest approved 20 October 2008

amendments:proposed by the president of the republic through a referendum, by public petition of at least 1% of registered voters, or by agreement of at least one-third membership of the National Assembly; passage requires two separate readings a year apart and approval by at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly, and approval by absolute majority in a referendum; amendments such as changes to the structure of the state, constraints on personal rights and guarantees, or constitutional amendment procedures are not allowed; amended 2011, 2015, 2018

Legal system

civil law based on the Chilean civil code with modifications; traditional law in indigenous communities

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only:yes

dual citizenship recognized:no

residency requirement for naturalization:3 years

Suffrage

18-65 years of age; universal and compulsory; 16-18, over 65, and other eligible voters, voluntary

Executive branch

chief of state: President Guillermo LASSO Mendoza (since 24 May 2021); Vice President Alfredo Enrique BORRERO Vega (since 24 May 2021); the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government:President Guillermo LASSO Mendoza (since 24 May 2021); Vice President Alfredo Enrique BORRERO Vega (since 24 May 2021)

cabinet:Cabinet appointed by the president

elections/appointments:president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 February 2021 with a runoff on 11 April 2021 (next to be held in February 2025)

election results:
2021: Guillermo LASSO Mendoza elected president; first round election results: percent of vote - Andres ARAUZ (UNES) 32.72%, Guillermo LASSO Mendoza (CREO) 19.74%, Yaku PEREZ Guartambel (MUPP) 19.38%, Xavier HERVAS Mora (Independent) 15.68%, other 12.48%; second round election results: percent of vote - Guillermo LASSO Mendoza (CREO) 52.5%, Andres ARAUZ (UNES) 47.5%

2017: Lenin MORENO Garces elected president in second round; percent of vote - Lenin MORENO Garces (Alianza PAIS Movement) 51.1%, Guillermo LASSO (CREO) 48.9%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (137 seats; 116 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 15 members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote, and 6 directly elected in multi-seat constituencies for Ecuadorians living abroad by simple majority vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections:last held on 7 February 2021 (next to be held in February 2025)

election results:percent of vote by party - UNES 32.21%, MUPP 16.81%, ID 11.98%, PSC 9.73%, CREO 9.65%, MC-PSE 3.76%, other 15.86%; seats by party - UNES 49, MUPP 27, ID 18, PSC 18, CREO 12, MC-PSE 2, independents 3, other 8; note - defections by members of National Assembly are commonplace, resulting in frequent changes in the numbers of seats held by the various parties

Judicial branch

highest courts: National Court of Justice or Corte Nacional de Justicia (consists of 21 judges, including the chief justice and organized into 5 specialized chambers); Constitutional Court or Corte Constitucional (consists of 9 judges)

judge selection and term of office:justices of National Court of Justice elected by the Judiciary Council, a 9-member independent body of law professionals; judges elected for 9-year, non-renewable terms, with one-third of the membership renewed every 3 years; Constitutional Court judges appointed by the executive, legislative, and Citizen Participation branches of government; judges appointed for 9-year non-renewable terms with one-third of the membership renewed every 3 years

subordinate courts:Fiscal Tribunal; Election Dispute Settlement Courts, provincial courts (one for each province); cantonal courts

Political parties and leaders

Alianza PAIS movement [Lenin Voltaire MORENO Garces]
Avanza Party or AVANZA [Ramiro GONZALEZ]
Central Democratic Movement or CD [Jimmy JAIRALA]
Citizen Revolution Movement or MRC [Rafael CORREA]
Creating Opportunities Movement or CREO [Guillermo LASSO]
Democratic Left or ID
Forward Ecuador Movement [Alvaro NOBOA]
Fuerza Ecuador [Abdala BUCARAM] (successor to Roldosist Party)
Honesty Alliance or MC-PSE (alliance including Concertation Movement or MC and Socialist Party of Ecuador or PSE)
Pachakutik Plurinational Unity Movement or MUPP [Marlon Rene SANTI Gualinga]
Patriotic Society Party or PSP [Gilmar GUTIERREZ Borbua]
Popular Democracy Movement or MPD [Luis VILLACIS]
Social Christian Party or PSC [Pascual DEL CIOPPO]
Socialist Party [Patricio ZABRANO] 
Society United for More Action or SUMA [Mauricio RODAS]
Union of Hope or UNES (coalition of left-leaning parties)

International organization participation

CAN, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-11, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNISFA, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco Benjamin Esteban CARRION Mena (since 24 January 2018)

chancery:2535 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

telephone:[1] (202) 234-7200

FAX:[1] (202) 667-3482

consulate(s) general:Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Haven (CT), New Orleans, New York, Newark (NJ), Phoenix, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Michael J. FITZPATRICK (since 18 June 2019)

telephone:[593] (2) 398-5000

embassy:Avenida Avigiras E12-170 y Avenida Eloy Alfaro, Quito

mailing address:Avenida Guayacanes N52-205 y Avenida Avigiras

FAX:[593] (2) 398-5100

consulate(s) general:Guayaquil

Flag description

three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double width), blue, and red with the coat of arms superimposed at the center of the flag; the flag retains the three main colors of the banner of Gran Colombia, the South American republic that broke up in 1830; the yellow color represents sunshine, grain, and mineral wealth, blue the sky, sea, and rivers, and red the blood of patriots spilled in the struggle for freedom and justice

note: similar to the flag of Colombia, which is shorter and does not bear a coat of arms

National symbol(s)

Andean condor; national colors: yellow, blue, red

National anthem

name: "Salve, Oh Patria!" (We Salute You, Our Homeland)

lyrics/music:Juan Leon MERA/Antonio NEUMANE

note: adopted 1948; Juan Leon MERA wrote the lyrics in 1865; only the chorus and second verse are sung

This is an audio of the National Anthem for Ecuador. The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.:

Economy

Economic overview

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. 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.

n 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 repeal of taxes associated with recovery from the earthquake of 2016, reduced restrictions on metal mining in the Yasuni Intangible Zone - a protected area, and several political reforms.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,195,840

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:13.15 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 53

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 15,853,100

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:94.97 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 66

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Ecuador’s remote and mountainous geography lends challenges to tele-density; government-owned provider to improve fixed-line and LTE infrastructure, with emphasis on fiber expansion from urban to rural areas and installation of a 5G network; small telecom market dominated by the non-competitive mobile sector; inadequate fixed-line infrastructure and slowed fixed-line broadband services (2021) (2020)

domestic:fixed-line services with digital networks provided by multiple telecommunications operators; fixed-line teledensity stands at about 13 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular use has surged and subscribership has reached 91 per 100 persons (2019)

international:country code - 593; landing points for the PAN-AM, PCCS, America Movil-Telxius West Coast Cable and SAm-1 submarine cables that provide links to South and Central America, and extending onward to the Caribbean and the US; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

about 60 media outlets are recognized as national; the Ecuadorian Government controls 12 national outlets and multiple radio stations; there are multiple TV networks and many local channels, as well as more than 300 radio stations; many TV and radio stations are privately owned; broadcast media is required by law to give the government free airtime to broadcast programs produced by the state; the Ecuadorian Government is the biggest advertiser and grants advertising contracts to outlets that provide favorable coverage; an antimonopoly law and communication law limit ownership and investment in the media by non-media businesses (2019)

Internet country code

.ec

Internet users

total: 9,448,692

percent of population:57.27% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 2,092,458

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:12.53 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 7 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers:35

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers:5,365,261 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers:64.2 million mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

HC

Airports

total: 432 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 18

Airports - with paved runways

total: 104 (2017)

over 3,047 m:4 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m:5 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m:18 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m:26 (2017)

under 914 m:51 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 328 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:37 (2013)

under 914 m:291 (2013)

Heliports

2 (2013)

Pipelines

485 km extra heavy crude, 123 km gas, 2131 km oil, 1526 km refined products (2017)

Railways

total: 965 km (2017)

narrow gauge:965 km 1.067-m gauge (2017)

note: passenger service limited to certain sections of track, mostly for tourist trains

country comparison to the world: 91

Roadways

total: 43,216 km (2015)

paved:8,161 km (2015)

unpaved:35,055 km (2015)

country comparison to the world: 87

Waterways

1,500 km (most inaccessible) (2012)

country comparison to the world: 52

Merchant marine

total: 147

by type:container ship 1, general cargo 7, oil tanker 29, other 110 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 74

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Esmeraldas, Manta, Puerto Bolivar

container port(s) (TEUs):Guayaquil (1,871,591) (2017)

river port(s):Guayaquil (Guayas)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Ecuadorian Armed Forces: the Ecuadorian Army (El Ejército Ecuatoriano), Ecuadorian Navy (Fuerza Naval del Ecuador, FNE, includes naval infantry, naval aviation, coast guard), Ecuadorian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana, FAE); Ministry of Interior: National Police (Policía Nacional del Ecuador) (2021)

Military expenditures

2.3% of GDP (2019)

2.4% of GDP (2018)

2.4% of GDP (2017)

2.5% of GDP (2016)

2.6% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 43

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Ecuadorian Armed Forces have approximately 40,000 active personnel (25,000 Army; 9,000 Navy; 6,000 Air Force) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's equipment inventory is mostly older and derived from a wide variety of sources; since 2010, Ecuador has received limited amounts of military equipment from more than 15 countries with Brazil, South Africa, and Spain as the leading suppliers (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for selective conscript military service; conscription has been suspended; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; Ecuadorian birth requirement; 1-year service obligation; females have been allowed to serve in all branches since 2012 (2019)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau continues to report the territorial and offshore waters as at risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crews have been robbed and stores or cargoes stolen; there has been a slight increase with three attacks reported in 2019 and four in 2020

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia penetrate across Ecuador's shared border

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 429,685 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum, are recognized as refugees, or have received alternative legal stay), 65,854 (Colombia) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2021)

Illicit drugs

significant transit country for cocaine originating in Colombia and Peru, with much 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

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