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Geography of Ecuador

Learn Information about the South American Country of Ecuador

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Ecuador Flag

The Ecuador Flag has three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double width), blue, and red with the coat of arms superimposed at the center of the flag; similar to the flag of Colombia, which is shorter and does not bear a coat of arms.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated October 18, 2010

Population: 14,573,101 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Quito
Bordering Countries: Columbia and Peru
Land Area: 109,483 square miles (283,561 sq km)
Coastline: 1,390 miles (2,237 km)
Highest Point: Chimborazo at 20,561 feet (6,267 m)

Ecuador is a country located on the west coast of South America between Columbia and Peru. It is known for its position along the Earth's equator and for officially controlling the Galapagos Islands which are about 620 miles (1,000 km) from Ecuador's mainland. Ecuador is also incredibly biodiverse and it has a medium-sized economy.

History of Ecuador

Ecuador has a long history of settlement by native peoples but by the 15th century it was controlled by the Inca Empire. In 1534 however, the Spanish arrived and took the area from the Inca. Throughout the rest of the 1500's, Spain developed colonies in Ecuador and in 1563, Quito was named as an administrative district of Spain.

Beginning in 1809, Ecuadorian natives began to revolt against Spain and in 1822 independence forces beat the Spanish army and Ecuador joined the Republic of Gran Colombia. In 1830 though, Ecuador became a separate republic. In its early years of independence and through the 19th century, Ecuador was unstable politically and it had a number of different rulers. By the late 1800s, Ecuador's economy was beginning to develop as it became an exporter of cocoa and its people began to practice agriculture along the coast.

The early 1900s in Ecuador were also unstable politically and in the 1940s it had a short war with Peru that ended in 1942 with the Rio Protocol. According to the U.S. Department of State, the Rio Protocol, led to Ecuador conceding a portion of its land that was in the Amazon area to draw the borders that it currently has today. Ecuador's economy continued to grow after World War II and bananas became a large export.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Ecuador stabilized politically and was run as a democracy but in 1997 instability returned after Abdala Bucaram (who became president in 1996) was removed from office after claims of corruption. In 1998, Jamil Mahuad was elected president but he was unpopular with the public due to economic problems. On January 21, 2000, a junta took place and Vice President Gustavo Noboa took control.

Despite some of Noboa's positive policies, political stability did not return to Ecuador until 2007 with the election of Rafael Correa. In October 2008, a new constitution went into effect and several policies of reform were enacted shortly thereafter.

Government of Ecuador

Today Ecuador's government is considered a republic. It has an executive branch with a chief of state and a head of government - both of which are filled by the president. Ecuador also has a unicameral National Assembly of 124 seats that makes up its legislative branch and a judicial branch composed of the National Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court.

Economics and Land Use in Ecuador

Ecuador currently has a medium-sized economy that is based mainly on its petroleum resources and agricultural products. These products include bananas, coffee, cocoa, rice, potatoes, tapioca, plantains, sugarcane, cattle, sheep, pigs, beef, pork, dairy products, balsa wood, fish and shrimp. In addition to petroleum, Ecuador's other industrial products include food processing, textiles, wood products and various chemicals manufacturing.

Geography, Climate and Biodiversity of Ecuador

Ecuador is unique in its geography because it is located on the Earth's equator. Its capital Quito is located only 15 miles (25 km) from a latitude of 0˚. Ecuador has a varied topography which includes coastal plains, central highlands and a flat eastern jungle. In addition, Ecuador has an area called Region Insular which contains the Galapagos Islands.

In addition to its unique geography, Ecuador is known as being highly biodiverse and according to Conservation International it is one of the world's most biodiverse countries. This is because it owns the Galapagos Islands as well as portions of the Amazon Rainforest. According to Wikipedia, Ecuador has 15% of the world's known bird species, 16,000 species of plants, 106 endemic reptiles and 138 amphibians. The Galapagos also have a number of unique endemic species and is where Charles Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution.

It should be noted that a large portion of Ecuador's high mountains are volcanic. The country's highest point, Mount Chimborazo is a stratovolcano and because of the Earth's shape, it is considered as the point on the Earth that is farthest from its center at an elevation of 6,310 m.

Ecuador's climate is considered humid subtropical in the rainforest areas and along its coast. The rest however is dependent on altitude. Quito's, with an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 m), average July high temperature is 66˚F (19˚C) and its January average low is 49˚F (9.4˚C) however, these high and low temperatures are the average highs and lows for each month of the year due to its location near the Equator.

To learn more about Ecuador, visit the Geography and Maps section on Ecuador on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (29 September 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Ecuador. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ec.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Ecuador: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107479.html

United States Department of State. (24 May 2010). Ecuador. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35761.htm

Wikipedia.com. (15 October 2010). Ecuador - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecuador

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