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276,840 sq. km; about the size of Colorado.
Cities: Capital--Quito (pop.
1.6 million). Other major cities--Guayaquil (2.4 million).
Jungle east of the Andes, a rich agricultural coastal plain west of the Andes,
high-elevation valleys through the mountainous center of the country and an archipelago
of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Climate: Varied, mild year-round
in the mountain valleys; hot and humid in coastal and Amazonian jungle lowlands.
Population (July 2005 est.): 13,363,593
population growth rate (July 2005 est.): 1.24%.
Ethnic groups: Indigenous 25%,
mestizo (mixed Indian and Spanish) 65%, Caucasian and others 7%, African 3%.
Predominantly Roman Catholic (95%), but religious freedom recognized.
Spanish (official), indigenous languages, especially Quichua, the Ecuadorian dialect
Education: Years compulsory--ages 6-14, but enforcement
varies. Attendance (through 6th grade)--76% urban, 33% rural. Literacy--92%.
Infant mortality rate—23.66/1,000. Life expectancy—76.21 yrs.
Independence: May 24, 1822 (from Spain).
August 10, 1998.
Branches: Executive--President and 15 cabinet ministers.
Legislative--unicameral Congress. Judicial--Supreme Court, Provincial
Courts, and ordinary civil and criminal judges.
Major political parties: Over a dozen political parties; none
Suffrage: Obligatory for literate citizens 18-65 yrs. of age;
optional for other eligible voters; active duty military personnel and police
may not vote.
(2005 est.) $32 billion; (2004 est.) $30 billion; (2003) $27.2 billion; (2002)
Real annual growth rate: 1996, 2.0%; 1997, 3.4%; 1998, 0.4%;
1999, -7.3%; 2000, 2.3%; 2001, 5.6%; 2002, 3.4%; 2003, 2.7%; 2004, 6.9%; 2005,
3.9% (est., statistics vary)
Per capita GDP: (2005 est.) $2,424; (2004 est.)
$2,304; (2003) $2,118.
Natural resources: Petroleum, fish, shrimp, timber,
Agriculture, including seafood (9.8 % of GDP in 2004; 9.6% of GDP in
2005 est.): Products--bananas, seafood, flowers, coffee, cacao, sugar,
tropical fruits, palm oil, palm hearts, rice, corn, and livestock.
(12.5% of GDP in 2004; 12.5% of GDP in 2005 est.; oil and mining--23.3% in 2004;
23.6% in 2005 est.): Types--petroleum extraction, food processing, wood
products, textiles, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
Other major contributors
to GDP: Commercial trade (wholesale and retail): 15.1% (2004), 15% (2005 est.);
transportation and communications: 9.8% (2004), 9.8% (2005 est.); construction:
7.3% (2004), 7.3% (2005 est.).
Trade: Exports--(2004) $7.66 billion;
$7.2 billion (2005 est.) . Types--petroleum, bananas, shrimp, coffee, cacao,
hemp, wood, fish, cut flowers. Major markets in 2003--Latin America 35.26%;
U.S. 34.56%, European Union (EU) 14.62%, and Asia 5.41%.
$7.27 billion; $7.9 billion (2005 est.) . Types--industrial materials,
nondurable consumer goods, agricultural products. Major suppliers (2003)--Latin
America 51.57%, U.S. 17.46%, Asia 12.28%, and EU 10.12%.
Currency: U.S. dollar.
is ethnically mixed. The largest ethnic groups are indigenous and mestizo (mixed
Indian-Caucasian). Although Ecuadorians were heavily concentrated in the mountainous
central highland region a few decades ago, today's population is divided about
equally between that area and the coastal lowlands. Migration toward cities--particularly
larger cities--in all regions has increased the urban population to over 60%.
The tropical forest region to the east of the mountains remains sparsely populated
and contains only about 3% of the population. Due to an economic crisis in the
late 1990s, more than 600,000 Ecuadorians emigrated to the U.S. and Europe from
2000 to 2001. It is estimated that there are over two million Ecuadorians currently
residing in the U.S.
GOVERNMENT, AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Advanced indigenous cultures flourished
in Ecuador long before the area was conquered by the Inca Empire in the 15th century.
In 1534, the Spanish arrived and defeated the Inca armies, and Spanish colonists
became the new elite. The indigenous population was decimated by disease in the
first decades of Spanish rule--a time when the natives also were forced into the
"encomienda" labor system for Spanish landlords. In 1563, Quito became the seat
of a royal "audiencia" (administrative district) of Spain.
independence forces defeated the royalist army in 1822, Ecuador joined Simon Bolivar's
Republic of Gran Colombia, only to become a separate republic in 1830. The 19th
century was marked by instability, with a rapid succession of rulers. The conservative
Gabriel Garcia Moreno unified the country in the 1860s with the support of the
Catholic Church. In the late 1800s, world demand for cocoa tied the economy to
commodity exports and led to migrations from the highlands to the agricultural
frontier on the coast.
liberal revolution in 1895 under Eloy Alfaro reduced the power of the clergy and
opened the way for capitalist development. The end of the cocoa boom produced
renewed political instability and a military coup in 1925. The 1930s and 1940s
were marked by populist politicians such as five-time President Jose Velasco Ibarra.
In January 1942, Ecuador signed the Rio Protocol to end a brief war with Peru
the year before. Ecuador agreed to a border that conceded to Peru much territory
Ecuador previously had claimed in the Amazon. After World War II, a recovery in
the market for agricultural commodities and the growth of the banana industry
helped restore prosperity and political peace. From 1948-60, three presidents--beginning
with Galo Plaza--were freely elected and completed their terms.
and popular unrest led to a return to populist politics and domestic military
interventions in the 1960s, while foreign companies developed oil resources in
the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 1972, a nationalist military regime seized power and
used the new oil wealth and foreign borrowing to pay for a program of industrialization,
land reform, and subsidies for urban consumers. With the oil boom fading, Ecuador
returned to democracy in 1979, but by 1982, the government faced an economic crisis,
characterized by inflation, budget deficits, a falling currency, mounting debt
service, and uncompetitive industries.
1984 presidential elections were narrowly won by Leon Febres-Cordero of the Social
Christian Party (PSC). During the first years of his administration, Febres-Cordero
introduced free-market economic policies, took strong stands against drug trafficking
and terrorism, and pursued close relations with the United States. His tenure
was marred by bitter wrangling with other branches of government and his own brief
kidnapping by elements of the military. A devastating earthquake in March 1987
interrupted oil exports and worsened the country's economic problems.
Borja of the Democratic Left (ID) party won the presidency in 1988. His government
was committed to improving human rights protection and carried out some reforms.
Most notably, Borja opened Ecuador to foreign trade. The Borja government concluded
an accord leading to the disbanding of the small terrorist group, "Alfaro Lives."
However, continuing economic problems undermined the popularity of the ID, and
opposition parties gained control of Congress in 1990.
In 1992, Sixto Duran-Ballen
won in his third run for the presidency. His government succeeded in pushing a
limited number of modernization initiatives through Congress. Duran-Ballen's Vice
President, Alberto Dahik, was the architect of the administration's economic policies,
but in 1995, Dahik fled the country to avoid prosecution on corruption charges
following a heated political battle with the opposition. A war with Peru erupted
in January-February 1995 in a small, remote region where the boundary prescribed
by the 1942 Rio Protocol was in dispute.
Bucaram, from the Guayaquil-based Ecuadorian Roldosista Party (PRE), won the presidency
in 1996 on a platform that promised populist economic and social policies and
the breaking of what Bucaram termed as the power of the nation's oligarchy. During
his short term of office, Bucaram's administration drew criticism for corruption.
Bucaram was deposed by the Congress in February 1997 on grounds of alleged mental
incompetence. In his place, Congress named interim President Fabian Alarcon, who
had been president of Congress and head of the small Radical Alfarist Front party.
Alarcon's interim presidency was endorsed by a May 1997 popular referendum.
and first-round presidential elections were held on May 31, 1998. No presidential
candidate obtained a majority, so a run-off election between the top two candidates--Quito
Mayor Jamil Mahuad of the Popular Democracy party and Alvaro Noboa of the Ecuadorian
Roldosista Party (PRE)--was held on July 12, 1998. Mahuad won by a narrow margin.
He took office on August 10, 1998. On the same day, Ecuador's new constitution
came into effect. Mahuad concluded a well-received peace with Peru on October
26, 1998, but increasing economic, fiscal, and financial difficulties drove his
popularity steadily lower. On January 21, 2000, during demonstrations in Quito
by indigenous groups, the military and police refused to enforce public order.
Demonstrators entered the National Assembly building and declared a three-person
"junta" in charge of the country. Field-grade military officers declared their
support for the concept. During a night of confusion and negotiations, President
Mahuad was obliged to flee the presidential palace. Vice President Gustavo Noboa
took charge and Mahuad went on national television in the morning to endorse Noboa
as his successor. Congress met in emergency session in Guayaquil the same day,
January 22, and ratified Noboa as President of the Republic in constitutional
succession to Mahuad.
Mahuad’s term, Noboa restored some stability to Ecuador. He implemented the dollarization
that Mahuad had announced, and he obtained congressional authorization for the
construction of Ecuador’s second major oil pipeline, this one financed by a private
consortium. Noboa turned over the government on January 15, 2003, to his successor,
Lucio Gutierrez, a former army colonel who first came to the public’s attention
as a leader of the January 2000 events that led to Mahuad’s departure from the
presidency. Anti-corruption and a leftist, populist platform characterized Gutierrez’s
campaign. However, shortly after taking office, Gutierrez adopted conservative
fiscal policies and authoritarian tactics to combat mounting opposition. The situation
came to a head in April 2005 when political opponents and popular uprisings in
Quito forced Gutierrez to resign the presidency and leave the country. In the
aftermath, Vice President Alfredo Palacio was confirmed as the new president,
and a new majority coalition of opposition political parties reclaimed control
of Congress. A semblance of stability has returned, but the Palacio administration
remains weak amid popular pressure for reform.
constitution provides for 4-year terms of office for the president, vice president,
and members of Congress, although none of the last three democratically-elected
presidents have remained in office much beyond two years. Presidents may be re-elected
after an intervening term, while legislators may be re-elected immediately. The
executive branch includes 15 ministries. Provincial governors and councilors,
like mayors and aldermen and parish boards, are directly elected. Congress meets
throughout the year except for recess in July and December. There are twenty 7-member
congressional committees. Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Congress
for indefinite terms.
Vice President--Nicanor Alejandro
Minister of Foreign Affairs—Francisco CARRION Mena
of Defense—Oswaldo JARRIN
Acting Chief of Mission, Ecuadorian Embassy to the
United States-- Luis GALLEGOS Chiriboga
Ambassador to the Organization of
American States—Mario ALEMAN
Ambassador to the United Nations—Marcelo Fernandez
Ecuador maintains an embassy in the United
States at 2535 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-234-7200). Consulates
are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Jersey City,
Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and San Juan, Puerto
political parties have historically been small, loose organizations that depend
more on populist, often charismatic, leaders to retain support than on programs
or ideology. Frequent internal splits have produced extreme factionalism. No party
has ever elected more than one president in recent years. Although Ecuador's political
elite is highly factionalized along regional, ideological, and personal lines,
a strong desire for consensus on major issues often leads to compromise. Opposition
forces in Congress are loosely organized, but historically they often unite to
block the administration's initiatives. Currently a majority coalition of three
of the main parties holds 53% of the seats in Congress, and effectively controls
changes enacted by a specially elected National Constitutional Assembly in 1998
took effect on August 10, 1998. The new constitution strengthens the executive
branch by eliminating mid-term congressional elections and by circumscribing Congress'
power to remove cabinet ministers. Party discipline is traditionally weak, and
routinely many congressional deputies switch allegiance during each Congress.
However, after the new constitution took effect, the Congress passed a code of
ethics that imposes penalties on members who defy their party leadership on key
Beginning with the 1996 election,
the indigenous population abandoned its traditional policy of shunning the official
political system and participated actively. The indigenous population has established
itself as a significant force in Ecuadorian politics, as shown by its early participation
in the Gutierrez administration.
will see the next scheduled presidential and congressional elections, according
to the following timetable: Congressional election and First Round of Presidential
Election- October 14, 2006; Runoff presidential election - November 26, 2006;
Congressional inauguration - January 5, 2007; Presidential inauguration - January
Ecuadorian economy is based on petroleum production and exports of bananas, shrimp,
and other primary agricultural products. In 2004, oil accounted for over 50% of
total export earnings. Ecuador is the world's largest exporter of bananas (about
$1.2 billion in 2004) and a major exporter of shrimp ($319.3 million in 2004).
Exports of nontraditional products such as flowers ($345 million in 2004) and
canned fish, including pouch tuna ($331 million in 2004) have grown in recent
years. Industry is largely oriented to servicing the domestic market.
economic performance in 1997-98 culminated in a severe economic and financial
crisis in 1999. The crisis was precipitated by a number of external shocks, including
the El Nino weather phenomenon in 1997, a sharp drop in global oil prices in 1997-98,
and international emerging market instability in 1997-98. These factors highlighted
the Government of Ecuador's unsustainable economic policy mix of large fiscal
deficits and expansionary monetary policy and resulted in an 6.3% contraction
of GDP, annual year-on-year inflation of 52.2%, and a 65% devaluation of the national
currency in 1999.
In 2000, President
Jamil Mahuad announced that Ecuador would adopt the U.S. dollar as its official
currency. Shortly thereafter Mahaud was forced from office, but his vice president
who assumed the presidency, Gustavo Noboa, stayed with the dollarization policy
and completed the transition later that same year. The rate of inflation soared
to an annual rate of over 96% is 2000. However, since dollarization, the inflation
rate has continued to drop each year until it reached 1.9% in 2004, lower than
the rate in the United States.
the first acts of the incoming Lucio Gutierrez administration in 2003 was the
negotiation of a standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Though
his administration’s fiscal economic policies were sound, the Gutierrez administration
was never able to enact the structural reforms the country needed. The IMF standby
agreement lapsed in 2004.
higher oil prices, the Ecuadorian economy experienced a modest recovery in 2000-01,
with GDP rising 2.8% in 2000 and 5.1% in 2001. GDP growth leveled off to 3.4%
in 2002. Ecuador experienced modest GDP growth of 2.7% in what the Government
of Ecuador called a transition year in 2003. Spurred by high oil prices and the
completion of a second oil pipeline (the Trans-Andean Oil Pipeline or OCP, in
Spanish) in late 2003, GDP growth for 2004 reached nearly 7%.
Ecuador has a relative abundance of oil reserves, it has been unable to take full
advantage of those resources for its own development. Mismanagement, lack of investment
and corruption in the state-owned oil sector has caused declines in state oil
production over the last decade. Commercial disputes as well as judicial and contractual
uncertainties have deterred private oil and other companies from investing in
the country. The electricity and telecommunications sectors also have similar
significant problems, which are costing Ecuadorians hundreds of millions of dollars
each year. As much as 70% (statistics vary) of the population lives below the
The United States and Ecuador have maintained close ties based
on mutual interests in maintaining democratic institutions; combating narcotrafficking;
building trade, investment, and financial ties; cooperating in fostering Ecuador's
economic development; and participating in inter-American organizations. Ties
are further strengthened by the presence of an estimated two million Ecuadorians
living in the United States and by 150,000 U.S. citizens visiting Ecuador annually,
and by approximately 20,000 U.S. citizens residing in Ecuador. More than 100 U.S.
companies are doing business in Ecuador.
United States assists Ecuador's economic development directly through the Agency
for International Development (USAID)
and through multilateral organizations such as the Inter-American Development
Bank and the World Bank. In addition, the U.S. Peace Corps operates
a sizable program in Ecuador. Total U.S. assistance to Ecuador exceeded $65 million
in FY 2004; it is expected to amount to over $50 million in 2005.
United States is Ecuador's principal trading partner. In 2004, Ecuador exported
about $3.5 billion in products to the U.S. For 10 years Ecuador benefited from
duty-free entry for certain of its exports under the Andean Trade Preferences
Act (ATPA) and received additional trade benefits under the Andean Trade Promotion
and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) in 2002. Those benefits will expire in 2006.
In May 2004 Ecuador entered into negotiations for an Andean free trade agreement
with the U.S., Colombia, and Peru. The negotiations are expected to be concluded
Both nations are signatories
of the Rio Treaty of 1947, the Western Hemisphere's regional mutual security treaty.
Although there are problems with money laundering, border controls, and illegal
alien immigration, Ecuador shares U.S. concerns over narcotrafficking and international
terrorism and has energetically condemned terrorist actions, whether directed
against government officials or private citizens. The government has maintained
Ecuador virtually free of coca production since the mid-1980s and is working to
combat money laundering and the transshipment of drugs and chemicals essential
to the processing of cocaine. It has recently given greater priority to combating
child labor and trafficking in persons.
and the U.S. agreed in 1999 to a 10-year arrangement whereby U.S. military surveillance
aircraft could use the airbase at Manta, Ecuador as a Forward Operating Location
to detect drug trafficking flights through the region.
claims a 320-kilometer-wide (200-mi.) territorial sea. The United States, in contrast,
claims a 12-mile boundary and jurisdiction for the management of coastal fisheries
up to 320 kilometers (200 mi.) from its coast but excludes highly migratory species.
Although successive Ecuadorian governments have declared a willingness to explore
possible solutions to this issue, the U.S and Ecuador have yet to resolve fundamental
differences concerning the recognition of territorial waters.
U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Jefferson
Political Counselor-Erik Hall
Economic Counselor--Larry Memmott
Commercial Attaché--James F. Sullivan
Counselor--Michael St. Clair
Public Affairs Officer--Marti Estell
Security Officer--Martin J. Rath
USAID Director--Alexandra Panehal
Affairs Section Director--Brian Doherty
Consul General--Kevin Herbert
Chief, Consular Section—Jill
Avenida Patria 120
(tel. (593)(2) 256-2890/256-1634)
mailing address is APO AA 34039
9 de Octubre and Garcia Moreno
Consular Agent for the Galapagos
(tel. (593) (5) 526-330 or (593) (5) 526-296)
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Main Switchboard: (202)-647-4000 (http://www.state.gov)
Department of Commerce, Trade Information Center, International Trade Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC 20230
Ecuadorian-American Chamber of Commerce--Quito
Multicentro, 4 Piso
La Nina y Avenida 6 de Diciembre
(593) (2) 250-7450
Fax: (593) (2) 250-4571
(Branches: Ambato, Cuenca & Manta)
Chamber of Commerce--Guayaquil
Av. Francisco de Orellanda y Alberto Borges
Centrum, Piso 6, Oficina 5
Tel: 593-(4)-269-3470 or 593-4-269-3471
AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
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