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Located in the western region of South America, the Republic of Ecuador is bordered by Columbia, Peru, and the Pacific Ocean. It is considered a democratic republic. Ecuador's territory includes the Galápagos Islands. The country takes its name from the equator, as it actually straddles it. Its land spans more than 250,000 square kilometers (155.3 miles).
Ecuador's capital city is Quito. The city is located in the Sierra region and is at home in the province of Pichincha. Though it does have status as the capital, Quito cannot claim to be the largest city. Guayaquil, of the Guayas province, is number one in that regard.
Ecuador is geographically defined by three distinct regions: the Coast, the Highlands, and the East. The Coast includes the pacific coastline while the Highlands include the high-altitude land that runs vertically through the center of the country. The Andes mountain range is part of the Highlands region. The East consists largely of the Amazon Rainforest, which takes up nearly half of the country's total land. Additionally, there is the Región Insular, consisting of the Galápagos Islands; they sit to the west, about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) off the coast of republic.
Ecuador's history dates back as far as 3500 B.C. Since the earliest of times, it has been home to many civilizations, including the Valdivia, Quitus, and Canari civilizations. Each civilization was unique for its architecture and pottery. Each also had its own religion. Eventually, the Canari civilization was conquered by the Incas. In time, the entire region became part of the Inca Empire.
In 1531, Spanish conquistadors arrived in Ecuador to see civil war raging throughout the Inca Empire. Eventually, Spain colonized the region. During early Spanish colonization, the indigenous people of Ecuador suffered from disease that killed many of them. Often, the native people were forced into labor for their colonist landlords. However, it took close to 300 years for the country to make a serious try for independence against Spain.
On 9 October 1820, Guayaquil became independent from Spain. However, the rest of the country did not share the same fate. It took nearly two years for the rest of the country to gain its freedom. By 24 May 1822, Ecuador, in its entirety, gained its independence by defeating Spaniard royalist forces at a battle near Quito. At this time, the country became a part of the Republic of Gran Colombia; it did not enjoy the status of a separate republic until 1830.
Over the years, Ecuador suffered a good deal of instability, due to leadership and territorial disputes. There was a good deal of unrest that led to war. The country also suffered financial problems due, in part, to the mismanagement of the country's assets and debts. Though the country has had three presidents appointed through democratic elections, neither President has managed to finish his full term.
Today, the government of Ecuador remains volatile. However, its government is set up to provide four-year terms for the presidency and vice presidency. These terms are to be served concurrently. The same holds true for members of Congress. A President may seek reelection after an intervening term. However, legislators are not required to wait to try for reelection.
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