Ecuador

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Posted by motoman 04/29/2009 @ 14:09

Tags : ecuador, south america, americas, world

News headlines
Ecuador Bond Buyback Participation Is Seen At Above 90% - Wall Street Journal
By Kejal Vyas and Mercedes Alvaro Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Ecuador could repurchase around 90% of its defaulted bonds as too few bondholders, it appears, have rallied sufficient support among fellow investors to undercut the...
Ecuador Oriente Crude At $50.12/Bbl May 12; Napo At $48.02/Bbl - Wall Street Journal
Crude oil is Ecuador's main export. The Ecuadorian government estimates an average price of around $35 per barrel for 2009. Last year, Ecuador's oil averaged around $84 per barrel. Ecuador exports its crude oil primarily to Asia, the US,...
Swine Flu Spreads to Ecuador; New York Has Flare-Up - Bloomberg
By Henry Goldman and Jason Gale May 15 (Bloomberg) -- A school administrator became New York City's first seriously ill swine flu patient as the virus spread to 35 countries and Ecuador confirmed its first case. Global health authorities today received...
Ecuador Reports First H1N1 Flu Case - Health Minister - Wall Street Journal
QUITO (Dow Jones)--Health Minister Caroline Chang confirmed Friday that an 11-year-old student in Guayaquil is the first case of H1N1 flu in Ecuador. The boy arrived last Sunday in Guayaquil from Miami. "The virus is confirmed but it isn't spreading in...
Ecuador to move ahead with Perenco's oil sale - Reuters
QUITO, May 14 (Reuters) - Ecuador will move ahead with the auction of 1.4 million barrels of crude seized from French oil company Perenco despite a foreign court order to halt the sale that stems from a tax row, a top official said on Thursday....
Ecuador lifts restrictions to charter flights from and to Mexico - Xinhua
QUITO, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador lifted the restrictions to charter flights from and to Mexico, which were set in late April as a preventive measure to prevent the influenza A/H1N1 epidemic, Mexican embassy in Ecuador said on Friday....
WHO says H1N1 flu cases, death toll rise - Reuters
The number of countries reporting confirmed cases of H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, has risen to 36 with Ecuador and Peru confirming their first cases, the WHO said. The vast majority of cases have been in Mexico and the United States....
New York Times Bolsters Ecuador's $27-Billion Shake Down of Chevron - Business Media Institute
The article by Simon Romero and Clifford Krauss, pointed out how the people of Ecuador resent Chevron for pollution the country's current government claims was left behind by Texaco. “Texaco's roughnecks are long gone, but black gunk from the pits...
Ecuador Studies ICSID Decision To Define Position On Perenco - Wall Street Journal
QUITO (Dow Jones)--Ecuador's government is studying a decision by the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, which ordered it not to take legal measures against French oil company Perenco until a dispute was settled....
Ecuador Finance Minister: Bond Prices Could Differ - Wall Street Journal
In December, Ecuador defaulted on some $3.21 billion in bonds due in 2012 and 2030, contending they are "illegal" and "illegitimate." The government has since offered to repurchase outstanding bonds at 30 cents on the US dollar....

Ecuador

Coat of arms of Ecuador

Ecuador (IPA: /ˈɛkwədɔr/), officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador Spanish pronunciation: ), literally, "Republic of the equator") is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, by Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America (with Chile) that does not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 965 kilometres (600 mi) west of the mainland. Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name, and has an area of 256,371 square kilometres (98,985 sq mi). Its capital city is Quito; its largest city is Guayaquil.

Evidence of human cultures in Ecuador exists from c. 3500 B.C. Many civilizations rose throughout Ecuador, such as the Valdivia Culture and Machalilla Culture on the coast, the Quitus (near present day Quito) and the Cañari (near present day Cuenca). Each civilization developed its own distinctive architecture, pottery, and religious interests. After years of fiery resistance by the Cayambes and other tribes, as demonstrated by the battle of Yahuarcocha (Blood Lake) where thousands of resistance fighters were killed and thrown in the lake, the region fell to the Incan expansion and was assimilated loosely into the Incan empire.

Through a succession of wars and marriages among the nations that inhabited the valley, the region became part of the Inca Empire in 1463. Atahualpa, one of the sons of the Inca emperor Huayna Capac, could not receive the crown of the empire since the emperor had another son, Huascar, born in the Incan capital Cusco. Upon Huayna Capac's death in 1525, the empire was divided in two: Atahualpa received the north, with his capital in Quito; Huascar received the south, with its capital in Cusco. In 1530, Atahualpa defeated Huascar and conquered the entire empire for the crown of Quito. However the emperor Atahualpa never ruled the empire, as he was fighting the Spanish at Cajamarca.

In 1531, the Spanish conquistadors, under Francisco Pizarro, arrived to find an Inca empire torn by civil war. Atahualpa wanted to reestablish a unified Incan empire; the Spanish, however, had conquest intentions and established themselves in a fort in Cajamarca, captured Atahualpa during the Battle of Cajamarca, and held him for ransom. The Incas filled one room with gold and two with silver to secure his release. Despite being surrounded and vastly outnumbered, the Spanish executed Atahualpa. To escape the confines of the fort, the Spaniards fired all their cannon and broke through the lines of the bewildered Incas. In subsequent years, the Spanish colonists became the new elite, centering their power in the vice-royalties of Nueva Granada and Lima.

Disease decimated the indigenous population during 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 and part of the Vice-Royalty of Lima, and later the Vice-Royalty of Nueva Granada.

After nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Quito still was a small city of only 10,000 inhabitants. It was there, on August 10, 1809 (the national holiday), that the first call for independence from Spain was made in Latin America ("Primer Grito de la Independencia"), under the leadership of the city's criollos like Carlos Montúfar, Eugenio Espejo and Bishop Cuero y Caicedo. Quito's nickname, "Luz de América" ("Light of America"), comes from the idea that this first attempt produced the inspiration for the rest of Spanish America. Quito is also known as "La Cara de Dios" ("The Face of God") for its beauty.

On October 9, 1820, Guayaquil became the first city in Ecuador to gain its independence from Spain. On August 10, 1822, the rest of Ecuador gained its independence after Field Marshal Antonio José de Sucre defeated the Spaniard Royalist forces at the Batalla de Pichincha (Battle of Pichincha) near Quito. Following the battle, Ecuador joined Simón Bolívar's Republic of Gran Colombia. Joined with modern day Colombia and Venezuela, only to become a republic in 1830.

The 19th century for Ecuador was marked by instability, with a rapid succession of rulers. The first president of Ecuador was the Venezuelan born Juan José Flores, who was ultimately deposed, followed by many authoritarian leaders such as Vicente Rocafuerte, José Joaquín de Olmedo, José María Urbina, Diego Noboa, Pedro José de Arteta, Manuel de Ascásubi and Flores's own son, Antonio Flores Jijón, among others. The conservative Gabriel Garcia Moreno unified the country in the 1860s with the support of the Roman Catholic Church. In the late 19th century, world demand for cocoa tied the economy to commodity exports and led to migrations from the highlands to the agricultural frontier on the coast.

The coast-based Liberal Revolution of 1895 under Eloy Alfaro reduced the power of the clergy and the conservative land owners of the highlands, and this liberal wing retained power until the military "Julian Revolution" of 1925. The 1930s and 1940s were marked by instability and emergence of populist politicians such as five-time President José María Velasco Ibarra.

Control over territory in the Amazon basin led to a long-lasting dispute between Ecuador and Peru. In 1941, amid fast-growing tensions between the two countries, war broke out. Peru claimed that Ecuador's military presence in Peruvian-claimed territory was an invasion; Ecuador, for its part, claimed that Peru had invaded Ecuador. In July 1941, troops were mobilized in both countries. Peru had an army of 11,681 troops who faced a poorly supplied and inadequately armed Ecuadorian force of 2,300, of which only 1,300 were deployed in the southern provinces. Hostilities erupted on July 5, 1941, when Peruvian forces crossed the Zarumilla river at several locations, testing the strength and resolve of the Ecuadorian border troops. Finally, on July 23, 1941, the Peruvians launched a major invasion, crossing the Zarumilla river in force and advancing into the Ecuadorian province of El Oro.

During the course of the war, Peru gained control over part of the disputed territory and some parts of the province of El Oro, and some parts of the province of Loja, demanding that the Ecuadorian government give up its territorial claims. The Peruvian Navy blocked the port of Guayaquil, almost cutting all supplies to the Ecuadorian troops. After a few weeks of war and under pressure by the United States and several Latin American nations, all fighting came to a stop. Ecuador and Peru came to an accord formalized in the Rio Protocol, signed on January 29, 1942, in favor of hemispheric unity against the Axis Powers in World War II. As a result of its victory, Peru was awarded the disputed territory.

Recession 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, construction of the Andean pipeline was completed. The pipeline brought oil from the east side of the Andes to the coast, making Ecuador South America's second largest oil exporter. The pipeline in southern Ecuador did nothing, however, to resolve tensions between Ecuador and Peru.

The Rio Protocol failed to precisely resolve the border along a small river in the remote Cordellera del Cóndor region in southern Ecuador. This caused a long-simmering dispute between Ecuador and Peru, which ultimately led to fighting between the two countries; first a border skirmish in January-February 1981 known as the Paquisha Incident, and ultimately full-scale warfare in January 1995 where the Educadorian military shot down Peruvian aircraft and helicopters and Peruvian infantry marched into southern Ecuador. Each country blamed the other for the onset of hostilities, known as the Cenepa War. Sixto Durán Ballén, the Ecuadorian president, famously declared that he would not give up a single centimeter of Ecuador. Popular sentiment in Ecuador became strongly nationalistic against Peru: graffiti could be seen on the walls of Quito referring to Peru as the "Cain de Latinoamérica," a reference to the murder of Abel by his brother Cain in the Book of Genesis. Ecuador and Peru reached a tentative peace agreement in October 1998, which ended hostilities.

In 1972 a "revolutionary and nationalist" military junta overthrew the government of Velasco Ibarra. The coup d'etat was led by General Guillermo Rodríguez and executed by navy commander Jorge Queirolo G. The new president exiled José María Velasco to Argentina, remaining in power until 1976 when he was removed by another military government. It was a military junta led by Admiral Alfredo Poveda, who was declared chairman of the Supreme Council. The Supreme Council had two other members as well, General Guillermo Durán Arcentales and General Luis Leoro Franco. After the country stabilized, socially and economically, this Supreme Council proceeded to hold democratic elections and stepped down to hand presidential duties over to the new democratically elected president.

Elections were held on April 29, 1979, under a new constitution. Jaime Roldós Aguilera was elected president, garnering over one million votes, the most in Ecuadorian history. He took office on August 10 as the first constitutionally elected president after nearly a decade of civilian and military dictatorships. In 1980 he founded the Partido Pueblo, Cambio y Democracia (People, Change and Democracy Party) after withdrawing from the Concentracion de Fuerzas Populares (Social Christian Party) and governed until May 24, 1981, when he died along with his wife and the minister of defense, Marco Subia Martinez, when his Air Force plane crashed in heavy rain near the Peruvian border. Many Ecuadorians believe that he was assassinated, given the multiple death threats levelled against him because of his reformist agenda and the sometimes contradictory accounts of the incident.

Roldos was immediately succeeded by Vice President Osvaldo Hurtado who was followed in 1984 by León Febres Cordero from the Social Christian Party. Rodrigo Borja Cevallos of the Democratic Left (Izquierda Democrática or ID) party won the presidency in 1988, running in the runoff election against Abdalá Bucaram (brother in law of Jaime Roldos and founder of the Ecuadorian Roldosist Party). His government was committed to improving human rights protection and carried out some reforms, notably an opening of Ecuador to foreign trade. The Borja government concluded an accord leading to the disbanding of the small terrorist group, "¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo!" ("Alfaro Lives, Dammit!") named after Eloy Alfaro. However, continuing economic problems undermined the popularity of the ID, and opposition parties gained control of Congress in 1990.

The emergence of the indigenous population (approximately 25%) as an active constituency has added to the democratic volatility of the country in recent years. The population has been motivated by government failures to deliver on promises of land reform, lower unemployment and provision of social services, and historical exploitation by the land-holding elite. Their movement, along with the continuing destabilizing efforts by both the elite and leftist movements, has led to a deterioration of the executive office. The populace and the other branches of government give the president very little political capital, as illustrated by the most recent removal of President Lucio Gutiérrez from office by Congress in April 2005. Vice President Alfredo Palacio took his place and remained in office until the presidential election of 2006, in which Rafael Correa defeated Alvaro Noboa in a runoff election.

The executive branch includes 25 ministries. Provincial governors and councilors (mayors, aldermen, and parish boards) are directly elected. Congress meets throughout the year except for recesses in July and December. There are 69 seven-member congressional committees. Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Congress for indefinite terms.

Ecuador has often placed great emphasis on multilateral approaches to international issues. Ecuador is a member of the United Nations (and most of its specialized agencies) and a member of many regional groups, including the Rio Group, the Latin American Economic System, the Latin American Energy Organization, the Latin American Integration Association, and The Andean Community of Nations.

The provinces are divided into cantons, and further subdivided into parishes (parroquias).

Ecuador's capital is Quito, which is in the province of Pichincha in the Sierra region. Its largest city is Guayaquil, in the Guayas Province. Cotopaxi, which is just south of Quito, features one of the world's highest active volcanoes. The top of Mount Chimborazo (6,310-m above sea level) is considered to be the most distant point from the center of the earth, given the ovoidal shape of the planet (wider at the equator).

Although the country is not particularly large, there is great variety in the climate, largely determined by altitude. The Pacific coastal area has a tropical climate, with a severe rainy season. The climate in the Andean highlands is temperate and relatively dry; and the Amazon basin on the eastern side of the mountains shares the climate of other rain forest zones.

Because of its location at the equator, Ecuador experiences little variation in daylight hours during the course of a year.

Ecuador is one of 18 megadiverse countries in the world according to Conservation International. With 1,600 bird species (15% of the world's known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more endemic in the Galápagos. In addition to 25,000 species of plants, the country has 106 endemic reptiles, 138 endemic amphibians, and 6,000 species of butterfly. The Galápagos Islands are well known as a region of distinct fauna, famous as the place of birth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite being on the UNESCO list, the Galapagos are endangered by a range of negative environmental effects, threatening the existence of this exotic ecosystem. Additionally, oil exploitation of the Amazon rain forest has led to the release of billions of gallons of untreated wastes, gas, and crude oil into the environment, contaminating ecosystems and causing detrimental health effects to indigenous peoples.

Ecuador's natural resources include petroleum, fish, shrimp, timber and gold. In addition, it has rich agriculture: bananas, flowers, coffee, cacao, sugar, tropical fruits, palm oil, palm hearts, rice, and corn. Fluctuations in world market prices can have a substantial domestic impact. Industry is largely oriented to servicing the domestic market, with some exports to the Andean Common market. Deteriorating 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 Niño 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 money policy and resulted in a 7.3% contraction of GDP, annual year-on-year inflation of 52.2%, and a 65% devaluation of the national currency, the sucre, in 1999, which helped precipitate a default on external loans later that year.

On January 9, 2000, the administration of President Jamil Mahuad announced its intention to adopt the U.S. dollar as the official currency of Ecuador to address the ongoing economic crisis. The formal adoption of the dollar, as opposed to merely pegging the sucre to the dollar as Argentina had done, theoretically meant that the benefits of seigniorage would accrue to the U.S. economy. Subsequent protests related to the economic and financial crises led to the removal of Mahuad from office and the elevation of Vice President Gustavo Noboa to the presidency. However, the Noboa government confirmed its commitment to dollarize as the centerpiece of its economic recovery strategy. The government also entered into negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), culminating in the negotiation of a 12-month standby arrangement with the IMF. Additional policy initiatives include efforts to reduce the government's fiscal deficit and to implement structural reforms to strengthen the banking system and regain access to private capital markets.

Buoyed by high oil prices, the Ecuadorian economy experienced a modest recovery in 2000, with GDP rising 1.9% annually. However, 70% of the population was estimated to live below the poverty line that year, more than double the rate in 1995.

Ecuador's population is ethnically diverse. The largest ethnic group (as of 2007) is the Mestizos, who are the mixed descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous Indians and who constitute less than 55% of the population. Amerindians account for around 24% of the current population. Whites, mainly criollos, the unmixed descendants of early Spanish colonists, as well as immigrants from other European countries, account for about 16% of the population. The small Afro-Ecuadorian minority, including Mulattos and zambos, largely based in Esmeraldas and Imbabura provinces, make up 5% of the population.

There are sizeable expatriate Ecuadorian communities in Spain, the United Kingdom (Ecuadorian Britons), and Italy, as well across Europe, the United States (Ecuadorian American), Canada, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan.

Many people from other South American countries, especially Peru and Bolivia have moved to Ecuador in search of higher wages. There has been increased immigration from the Middle East, Asia (especially China and Japan), North America and Europe. There is a large community of Arab-Ecuadorians, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, mostly of Lebanese, Syrian, or Palestinian origin, prominent in commerce and industry, and concentrated in the country's second city, the Pacific port of Guayaquil. Ecuador contains tiny communities of Italians, Jews, Armenians and Greek-Ecuadorians. The Ecuadorian Jews, who number less than 500, are mostly of German or Italian descent. There are 112,000 German speakers in Ecuador, mainly descendants of immigrants who arrived in the late 19th century. In recent years Ecuador has seen an influx of Colombians seeking refuge from the Colombian armed conflict.

A small east Asian Latino community estimated at 2,500 mainly consists of those of Japanese and Chinese descent, whose ancestors arrived as miners, farm hands and fishermen in the late 19th century.

Approximately 95% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic, and 4% are Protestants. In the rural parts of Ecuador, indigenous beliefs and Catholicism are sometimes syncretized. Most festivals and annual parades are based on religious celebrations, many incorporating a mixture of rites and icons.

The Jewish community of Ecuador, with domicile in Quito, has about 500 members. However, this number is decreasing because young people are emigrating to study in Israel or elsewhere abroad and not returning. The community has a Jewish center with a synagogue, a country club, a cemetery and supports the Albert Einstein School, where Judaism, Jewish history and Hebrew are taught. A Chabad House was established 2004 in Quito. There are some very small communities in Cuenca and Ambato. The "Comunidad de Culto Israelita" works in Guayaquil independently of the community in Quito,. There are some small percentages of Eastern Orthodox Christians, indigenous religions, Muslims, Buddhists and Bahá'í. Ecuador also has strong membership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A Mormon temple was constructed in Guayaquil in 1999.

The majority of Ecuadorians live in the central provinces inland in the Andes mountains, or along the Pacific coast. The tropical forest region to the east of the mountains (El Oriente) remains sparsely populated and contains only about three percent of the population.

Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its mestizo majority and, like their ancestry, is a mixture of European and Amerindian influences infused with African elements inherited from enslaved ancestors. Ecuador's indigenous communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees, but some may also practice their own autochthonous cultures, particularly the more remote indigenous communities of the Amazon basin. Spanish is spoken as the first language by more than 90% of the population and as first and second language by more than 98%. One part of Ecuador's population can speak Amerindian languages, but just as a second language. Two percent of the population speaks only Amerindian languages because they have never attended school.

The Panama hat is of Ecuadorian origin, and is known there as "Sombrero de paja toquilla", or a Jipijapa. It is made principally in Montecristi in the Province of Manabi. Its manufacture (particularly that of the Montecristi superfino) is considered a great craft.

Notable people born in Ecuador include painters Tábara, Guayasamín, Kingman, Rendón, Arauz, Constanté, Viteri, Molinari, Maldonado, Gutierrez, Endara Crow, Villacís, Egas, Villafuerte and Faini; Enrique Espín Yépez composer, violinist and conductor; animator Mike Judge; poet and statesman José Joaquín de Olmedo y Maruri, scholar Benjamín Urrutia, world traveler Claudia Velasco, and tennis player Pancho Segura.

The food in Ecuador is diverse, varying with altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular in the mountain regions and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn or potatoes). A popular street food in mountain regions is hornado, consisting of potatoes served with roasted pig. Fanesca, a fish soup including several types of bean, is often eaten during Lent and Easter. During the week before the commemoration of the deceased or "día de los muertos", the fruit beverage "Colada Morada" is typical, accompanied by "Guaguas de Pan", which is stuffed bread shaped like children.

The food is somewhat different in the southern mountain area, featuring typical Loja food such as "repe", a soup prepared with green bananas; "cecina", roasted pork; and "miel con quesillo" or "cuajada" as dessert.

A wide variety of fresh fruit is available, particularly at lower altitudes, including granadilla, passionfruit, naranjilla, several types of bananas, uvilla, taxo, and tree tomato.

Seafood is very popular at the coast, where prawns, shrimp and lobster are key parts of the diet. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals, which are usually served in two courses. The first course is caldo soup, which may be aguado (a thin soup, usually with meat) or caldo de leche, a cream vegetable soup. The second course might include rice, a little meat or fish with a menestra (lentil stew), and salad or vegetables. Patacones (fried green plantains with cheese) are popular side dishes with coastal meals.

Some of the typical dishes in the coastal region are: ceviche, pan de almidón, corviche, guatita, encebollado and empanadas; in the mountain region: hornado, fritada, humitas, tamales, llapingachos, lomo saltado, and churrasco.

In the rainforest, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. The starchy root is peeled and boiled, fried, or used in a variety of other dishes. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms. It's also used as a bread and has spread throughout the nation, most notably, to Quito where a company sells the native pan de yuca in a new sense; different types sold with frozen youghurt.

Aguardiente, a sugar cane-based spirit, is probably the most popular national alcohol. Drinkable yogurt, available in many fruit flavors, is popular and is often consumed with pan de yuca, a light bread filled with cheese and eaten warm.

There are many contemporary Ecuadorian writers, including the novelist Jorge Enrique Adoum; the poet Jorge Carrera Andrade; the essayist Benjamín Carrión; the poet Fanny Carrión de Fierro; the novelist Enrique Gil Gilbert; the novelist Jorge Icaza (author of the novel Huasipungo, translated to many languages); the short story author Pablo Palacio; the novelist Alicia Yanez Cossio; the prominent author and essayist, Juan Montalvo, and U.S.-based, half Ecuadorian poet Emanuel Xavier.

The best known art tendencies from Ecuador belonged to the Escuela Quiteña, which developed from the 16th to 18th centuries, examples of which are on display in various old churches in Quito.

Ecuadorian painters include: Oswaldo Guayasamín, Camilo Egas and Eduardo Kingman from the Indiginist Movement; and Manuel Rendon, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement.

The Ecuador Film Company was founded in Guayaquil, in 1924. During the early twenties to early thirties, Ecuador enjoyed its Cinema Golden Age Era. However, the production of motion pictures declined with the coming of sound.

In addition to film, there are numerous books and novels based on Ecuador, including the science fiction novel by Rod Glenn, The King of America, and the science fiction novel Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut.

The most popular sport in Ecuador, as in most South American countries, is football. Its best known professional teams include Barcelona S.C. and C.S. Emelec, from Guayaquil, Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, Deportivo Quito and El Nacional (the Ecuadorian Armed Forces team) from Quito, Olmedo from Riobamba, and Deportivo Cuenca, from Cuenca.

The matches of the Ecuador national football team are the most watched sports events in the country. In June 2007, FIFA adopted a resolution prohibiting international soccer games at or higher than 2,500 meters above sea level. Rafael Correa, and his presidential counterparts in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia, issued a joint letter of protest against this ruling. Ecuador qualified for the final rounds of both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. Ecuador finished ahead of Poland and Costa Rica to come in second to Germany in Group A in the 2006 World Cup. Futsal, often referred to as índor, is particularly popular for mass participation.

There is considerable interest in tennis in the middle and upper classes in Ecuadorian society, and several Ecuadorian professional players have attained international fame, including Nicolas Lapentti, Francisco Segura and Andrés Gómez. Basketball has a high profile, while Ecuador's specialties include Ecuavolley, a three-person variation of volleyball. Bullfighting is practised at a professional level in Quito, during the annual festivities that commemorate the Spanish founding of the city, and also features in festivals in many smaller towns. Rugby union is found to some extent in Ecuador, and Quito has its own club.

Ecuador obtained its only Olympic gold medal in Atlanta's 1996 Olympic Games, through Jefferson Pérez, in the 20 km race-walk. Since 2005, Ecuador has held the Guayaquil Marathon, which is an international foot race.

There is flourishing activity in non-traditional sports such as inline hockey, Capoeira, mountain biking, motorbiking, surfing, and paintball. Some costal resorts, particularly Montañita and Ayampe, have been developed as surfing centres. Ecuador also hosted the 2007 Youth World Championship for rock climbing, held in Ibarra, becoming the first country outside Europe or Asia to host the event.

The public education system is free at the point of delivery, and attendance is mandatory from ages five to 14. Provision of public schools falls far below the levels needed, and class sizes are often very large, and families of limited means often find it necessary to pay for education. In rural areas, only 10% of the children go on to high school. The Ministry of Education states that the mean number of year completed as 6.7.

Ecuador has 61 universities, many of which offer graduate degrees, although only 87% of the faculty in public universities possess graduate degrees. About 300 higher institutes offer two to three years of post-secondary vocational or technical training.

The public policies on science and technology in Ecuador are regulated by Senacyt (Secretaria Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia). Senacyt works alongside universities and private sector to promote applied research. The major focus of research has been in agriculture and environmental impact on raw material extraction.

In 2007, Ecuador trained its first astronaut, Commander Ronnie Nader, and formed the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Civil Ecuatoriana, EXA). In 2008, EXA developed a plane capable of sustaining micro gravity flight, becoming the first country in Latin America in developing this kind of technology by their own means. One month later, they set the world record for the youngest human being in micro gravity, becoming the lead country in micro gravity aerospace research. The EXA manages the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Program and operates, jointly with the Ecuadorian Air Force, the Ecuadorian Micro Gravity Flight Program, the only such program in Latin America.

Ecuador has a network of national highways maintained by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Comunicaciones (Ministry of Public Works and Communication). The Pan-American Highway connects the northern and southern portions of the country as well as connecting Ecuador with Colombia to the north and Peru to the south. The quality of roads, even on truck routes, is highly variable. There is an extensive network of intercity buses that use these mountain roads and highways.

The most modern Ecuadorian Highway communicates Guayaquil with Salinas. The Interandean Railroad communicates Quito and Cotopaxi.

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History of Ecuador

Five Time President of Ecuador Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra

The History of Ecuador extends over a 9,000-year period. During this time a variety of cultures and territories influenced what has become the Republic of Ecuador. The history can be divided into five eras: Pre-Colombian, The Conquest, The Colonial Period, The War of Independence and the Republican Era. The beginning of history is respresented by a variety of cultures and finishes with the Incan invasion. The Incas were followed closely by the arrival of the conquistadors, the Spanish Conquests. The Spanish would found modern day Quito and Guayaquil as part of the political-administration era which lasted until the war of Independence, the rise of Gran Colombia and Simon Bolivar to the final separation of his vision into what is known today as the Republic of Ecuador.

The Pre Ceramic period begins with the end of the last ice age and continues through 4200bc. The Las Vegas culture and The Inga Cultures dominated this period.

The Inga lived in the Sierra near present day Quito. Evidence from their archeological site El Inca date the culture to 9000-8000 BC. Several sites were excavated around 1961 and it is estimated this areas to be one of the most important in South America and existed along a once ancient trade route. The tools used by these early nomadic hunters have provided relationships to the Clovis culture level I at Fell's Cave in southern Chile, and technological relationships to the late Pleistocene "fluted point" complexes of North America.

During the Formative Period moved people of the region moved from the hunter-gather a simple farming into a more developed society, with permanent developments, an increase in agriculture and the use of ceramics. New cultures included the Machalilla culture, Valdivia, Chorrera in the coast; Cotocollao, The Chimba in the sierra; and Pastaza, Chiguaza in the oriental region.

The Valdivia culture is the first culture where significant remains have been discovered. Their civilization dates back as early as 3500 B.C. Living in the area near The Valdivias were the first Americans to use pottery. They created bowls, jars and female statues out of clay both for everyday life and for use in religious ceremonies. They navigated the seas on rafts with sails and established a trade network with tribes in the Andes and the Amazon. Valdivia art and artifacts have been found throughout the country and an extensive collection is on display at the Museo Fianco Banco Central in Quito and the UEES in Guayaquil.

Succeeding the Valdivia, the Machallia Culture were a farming culture who thrived along the coast of Ecuador between the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. Their ceramics are easily differentiated from the Valdivia as they were painted black or white with red stripes, figurines were rare and crudely made. These appear to be the earliest people to cultivate maize in this part of South America.

Exsisting in the late formative period the Chorrera culture lived in the Andes and Coastal Regions of Ecuador between 1000 and 300 BC . Best known for their hollow ceramic animal and plant shaped figurines.

The period of Regional Development is identified that for the first time the regional differences in the territorial or political and social organization of people that formed. Among the main towns of this period were the cultures: Jambelí, Guangala, Bahia, Tejar-Daule, La Tolita, Jama Coaque in the coast of Ecuador, in the sierras the Cerro Narrío Alausí; and in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle the Tayos.

The figurine of the Bahia Culture (300 BC - 500 AD) La Chimba is the site of the earliest ceramic northern Andes, north of Quito, and is representative of the Formative Period in its final stage. Its inhabitants contacted several villages on the coast and the mountains, keeping close proximity to the Cotocollao culture, located on the plateau of Quito and its surrounding valleys. The Bahia culture occupied the area that stretches from the foothills of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean, and from Bahía de Caráquez, to the south of Manabi. The Jama-Coaque culture inhabited areas between Cabo San Francisco in Esmeraldas, to Bahía de Caráquez, in Manabi, in an area of wooded hills and vast beaches of their immigrant who facilitated the gathering of resources of both the jungle and the ocean.

The La Tolita developed in the coastal region of Southern Colombia and Northern Ecuador between 600 bc and 200 dc. A Number of archaeological sites have been discovered and show the highly artistic nature of this culture. Artifacts are characterized by gold jewelry, beautiful anthropomorphous masks and figurines that reflect a hierarchical society with complex ceremonies.

Tribes throughout Ecuador integrated during this period. They were creating housing that allowed them to improve their living conditions and no longer be reliant on the climate. In the mountains Cosangua-Píllaro, Capuli, Piartal-Tuza, in the eastern region is Phase Yasuní while on the coast were built cultures Milagro, maintain and Huancavilca.

The Manteños were the last of the pre-colombian cultures in the coastal region exsisting between 600 – 1534. They were the first to witness the arrival of Spanish ships sailing in the surrounding Pacific Ocean. According to archelogical evidence and Spanish chronicals the civilization exsisted from Bahia de Caraquez to Cerro de Hojas in the south. They were excellent weavers, produced textiles, articles of gold, silver spondylus shells and mother of pearls. The manteños mastered the seas and created an extensive trade routes as far as Chile to the south and Western Mexico to the north. The center of the culture was in the area of Manta which was named in their honor.

The Huancavilcas constitute the most important pre colombinan culture of Guayas. These warriors were noted for their appearance. Huancavilca of culture is the legend of Guayas and Quiles, which gives its name to the city of Guayaquil.

The existence of the Kingdom of Quito was formed by the Quitus, the Puruhaes and Cañari who inhabited by that time the Andean regions of Ecuador today. Their main settlement was in the area where they were later lifted the city of Quito, and its inhabitants are called Quitus. The Quitus were backward and weak, also formed a small kingdom and poorly organized, so it could not raise a vigorous existence of the invaders, and were easily defeated and subjugated by the Shyris, ancient indigenous people who joined the Kingdom of Quito. The Shyris dominated more than 700 years, and their dynasty that saw the invasions of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui.

The Inca civilization expansion northward from modern-day Peru during the late fifteenth century met with fierce resistance by several Ecuadorian tribes, particularly the Cañari, in the region around modern-day Cuenca; the Cara in the Sierra north of Quito; and the Quitu, occupants of the site of the modern capital, after whom it was to be named. The conquest of Ecuador began in 1463 under the leadership of the ninth Inca, the great warrior Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. In that year, his son Tupa took over command of the army and began his march northward through the Sierra.

By 1500 Tupa's son, Huayna Capac, overcame the resistance of these populations and that of the Cara, and thus incorporated all of modern-day Ecuador into Tawantinsuyu, as the Inca empire was known. The influence of these conquerors based in Cuzco (modern-day Peru) was limited to about a half century, or less in some parts of Ecuador. During that period, some aspects of life remained unchanged. Traditional religious beliefs, for example, persisted throughout the period of Inca rule. In other areas, however, such as agriculture, land tenure, and social organization, Inca rule had a profound effect despite its relatively short duration.

As the Inca Civil War raged, in 1531 the Spanish landed in Ecuador. Led by Francisco Pizzaro, the conquistadors learned that the conflict and disease were destroying the empire After receiving reinforcements in September 1532, Pizzaro set out to the newly victorious Atahualpa.

Arriving Cajamarca Pizarro sent an embassy, led by Hernando de Soto with 15 horsemen and an interpreter; shortly thereafter he sent 20 more horsemen led by his brother . Atahualpa was in awe of these men dressed in full clothing, with long beards and riding horses (an animal he had never seen). In town Pizzaro set a trap for the Inca and the Battle of Cajamarca began. The Inca forces greatly out numbered the Spanish, however the Spanish superiority of weapons, tactics and the fact that the most trusted in Inca Generals were in Cusco led to an easy defeat and the capture of the Incan Emperor.

During the next year Pizzaro held Atahualpa for ransom. The Incas filled the Ransom Room with gold and silver awaiting a release that would never happen. On August 29, 1533 Atahualpa was garroted. The Spanish then set out to conquer the rest of Tawantinsuyu capturing Cuzco in November 1533.

Benalcázar, Pizarro's lieutenant and fellow Extremaduran, had already departed from San Miguel with 140 foot soldiers and a few horses on his conquering mission to Ecuador. At the foot of Mount Chimborazo, near the modern city of Riobamba (Ecuador) he met and defeated the forces of the great Inca warrior Rumiñahui with the aid of Cañari tribesmen who served as guides and allies to the conquering Spaniards. Rumiñahui fell back to Quito, and, while in pursuit of the Inca army, Benalcázar encountered another, quite sizable, conquering party led by Guatemalan Governor Pedro de Alvarado. Bored with administering Central America, Alvarado had set sail for the south without the crown's authorization, landed on the Ecuadorian coast, and marched inland to the Sierra. Most of Alvarado's men joined Benalcázar for the siege of Quito. In 1533, Rumiñahui, burned the city to prevent the Spanish from taking it, thereby destroying any traces of the ancient pre-Hispanic city.

In 1534 Sebastián de Belalcázar along with Diego de Almagro established the city of San Francisco de Quito on top of the ruins of the secondary Inca capital naming it in honor of Pizzaro. It was not until December 1540 that Quito received its first captain-general in the person of Francisco Pizzaro's brother, Gonzalo Pizarro.

Benalcázar had also founded the city of Guayaquil in 1533, but it had subsequently been retaken by the local Huancavilca tribesmen. Francisco de Orellana, yet another lieutenant of Francisco Pizarro from the Spanish city of Trujillo, put down the native rebellion and in 1537 reestablished this city, which a century later would become one of Spain's principal ports in South America.

Between 1544 and 1563, Ecuador was an integral Spain's colonies in the New World under the Viceroyalty of Peru, having no administrative status independent of Lima. It remained a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1720, when it joined the newly created Viceroyalty of New Granada; within the viceroyalty, however, Ecuador was awarded its own audiencia in 1563, allowing it to deal directly with Madrid on certain matters. The Quito Audiencia, which was both a court of justice and an advisory body to the viceroy, consisted of a president and several judges (oidores).

The most common form in which the Spanish occupied the land was the encomienda. By the early seventeenth century, there were some 500 encomiendas in Ecuador. Although many consisted of quite sizable haciendas, they were generally much smaller than the estates commonly found elsewhere in South America. A multitude of reforms and regulations did not prevent the encomienda from becoming a system of virtual slavery of the Native Ecuadorians, estimated at about one-half the total Ecuadorian population, who lived on them. In 1589 the president of the audiencia recognized that many Spaniards were accepting grants only to sell them and undertake urban occupations, and he stopped distributing new lands to Spaniards; however, the institution of the encomienda persisted until nearly the end of the colonial period.

The coastal lowlands north of Manta were conquered, not by the Spanish, but by blacks from the Guinean coast who, as slaves, were shipwrecked en route from Panama to Peru in 1570. The blacks killed or enslaved the native males and married the females, and within a generation they constituted a population of zambos that resisted Spanish authority until the end of the century and afterwards managed to retain a great deal of political and cultural independence.

The coastal economy revolved around shipping and trade. Guayaquil, despite being destroyed on several occasions by fire and incessantly plagued by either yellow fever or malaria, was a center of vigorous trade among the colonies, a trade that was technically illegal under the mercantilist philosophy of the contemporary Spanish rulers. Guayaquil also became the largest shipbuilding center on the west coast of South America before the end of the colonial period.

The Ecuadorian economy, like that in the mother country, suffered a severe depression throughout most of the eighteenth century. Textile production dropped an estimated 50 to 75 percent between 1700 and 1800. Ecuador's cities gradually fell into ruins, and by 1790 the elite was reduced to poverty, selling haciendas and jewelry in order to subsist. The Native Ecuadorian population, in contrast, probably experienced an overall improvement in its situation, as the closing of the obrajes commonly led Native Ecuadorians to work under less arduous conditions on either haciendas or traditional communal lands. Ecuador's economic woes were, no doubt, compounded by the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 by King Charles III of Spain. Missions in the Oriente were abandoned, and many of the best schools and the most efficient haciendas and obrajes lost the key that made them outstanding institutions in colonial Ecuador.

The struggle for independence in the Quito Audiencia was part of a movement throughout Spanish America led by Criollos. The Criollos' resentment of the privileges enjoyed by the Peninsulares was the fuel of revolution against colonial rule. The spark was Napoleon's invasion of Spain, after which he deposed King Ferdinand VII and, in July 1808, placed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne.

Shortly afterward, Spanish citizens, unhappy at the usurpation of the throne by the French, began organizing local juntas loyal to Ferdinand. A group of Quito's leading citizens followed suit, and on August 10, 1809, they seized power in the name of Ferdinand from the local representatives, whom they accused of preparing to recognize Joseph Bonaparte. Thus, this early revolt against colonial rule (one of the first in Spanish America) was, paradoxically, an expression of loyalty to the Spanish king.

It quickly became apparent that Quito's Criollo rebels lacked the anticipated popular support for their cause. As loyalist troops approached Quito, they peacefully turned power back to the crown authorities. Despite assurances against reprisals, the returning Spanish authorities proved to be merciless with the rebels and, in the process of ferreting out participants in the Quito revolt, jailed and abused many innocent citizens. Their actions, in turn, bred popular resentment among Quiteños, who, after several days of street fighting in August 1810, won an agreement to be governed by a junta composed with a majority of Criollos, although with the Peninsular president of the Royal Audience of Quito acting as its head.

In spite of strong opposition from the Quito Audiencia, the Junta called for a congress in December 1811 and declared the entire area of the audiencia to be independent of any government currently in Spain. Two months later, the Junta approved a constitution for the state of Quito that provided for democratic governing institutions but also granted recognition to the authority of Ferdinand should he return to the Spanish throne. Shortly thereafter, the Junta elected to launch a military offensive against loyalist regions to the south in Peru, but the poorly trained and badly equipped troops were no match for those of the Viceroy of Peru, which finally crushed the Quiteño rebellion in December 1812.

The second chapter in Ecuador's struggle for emancipation from Spanish colonial rule began in Guayaquil, where independence was proclaimed in October 1820 by a local patriotic junta under the leadership of the poet José Joaquín de Olmedo. By this time, the forces of independence had grown continental in scope and were organized into two principal armies, one under the Venezuelan Simón Bolívar Palacios in the north and the other under the Argentine José de San Martín in the south. Unlike the hapless Quito junta of a decade earlier, the Guayaquil patriots were able to appeal to foreign allies, Argentina and Gran Colombia, each of whom soon responded by sending sizable contingents to Ecuador. Antonio José de Sucre, the brilliant young lieutenant of Bolívar who arrived in Guayaquil in May 1821, was to become the key figure in the ensuing military struggle against the royalist forces.

After a number of initial successes, Sucre's army was defeated at Ambato in the central Sierra and he appealed for assistance from San Martín, whose army was by now in Peru. With the arrival from the south of 1,400 fresh soldiers under the command of Andrés de Santa Cruz Calahumana, the fortunes of the patriotic army were again reversed. A string of victories culminated in the decisive Battle of Pichincha.

Two months later Bolívar, the liberator of northern South America, entered Quito to a hero's welcome. Later that July, he met San Martín at the Guayaquil conference and convinced the Argentine general, who wanted the port to return to Peruvian jurisdiction, and the local Criollo elite in both major cities of the advantage of having the former Quito Audiencia join with the liberated lands to the north. As a result, Ecuador became the District of the South within the Republic of Gran Colombia, which also included present-day Venezuela and Colombia and had Bogotá as its capital. This status was maintained for eight tumultuous years.

These were years in which warfare dominated the affairs of Ecuador. First, the country found itself on the front lines of Gran Colombia's efforts to liberate Peru from Spanish rule between 1822 and 1825; afterward, in 1828 and 1829, Ecuador was in the middle of an armed struggle between Peru and Gran Colombia over the location of their common border. After a campaign that included the near destruction of Guayaquil, the forces of Gran Colombia, under the leadership of Sucre and Venezuelan General Juan José Flores, proved victorious. The Treaty of 1829 fixed the border on the line that had divided the Quito audiencia and the Viceroyalty of Peru before independence.

The population of Ecuador was divided during these years among three segments: those favoring the status quo, those supporting union with Peru, and those advocating independence for the former audiencia. The latter group was to prevail following Venezuela's withdrawal from Gran Colombia at the very moment that an 1830 constitutional congress had been called in an ultimately futile effort to stem the growing separatist tendencies throughout country. In May of that year, a group of Quito notables met to dissolve the union with Gran Colombia, and in August, a constituent assembly drew up a constitution for the State of Ecuador, so named for its geographic proximity to the equator, and placed General Flores in charge of political and military affairs. He remained the dominant political figure during Ecuador's first fifteen years of independence.

Before the year 1830 drew to a close, both Marshal Sucre and Simón Bolívar would be dead; the former, murdered (on orders from a jealous General Flores, according to some historians), and the latter, from tuberculosis.

Juan José Flores known as the founder of the Republic was of the foreign military variety. Born in Venezuela, he had fought in the wars for independence with Bolívar, who had appointed him governor of Ecuador during its association with Gran Colombia. As a leader, however, he appeared primarily interested in maintaining his power. Military expenditures, from the independence wars and from an unsuccessful campaign to wrest Cauca Province from Colombia in 1832, kept the state treasury empty while other matters were left unattended.

Discontent had become nationwide by 1845, when an insurrection in Guayaquil forced Flores from the country. Because their movement triumphed in March (marzo), the anti-Flores coalition members became known as marcistas. They were an extremely heterogeneous lot that included liberal intellectuals, conservative clergymen, and representatives from Guayaquil's successful business community.

The next fifteen years constituted one of the most turbulent periods in Ecuador's century and a half as a nation. The marcistas fought among themselves almost ceaselessly and also had to struggle against Flores's repeated attempts from exile to overthrow the government. The most significant figure of the era, however, was General José María Urbina, who first came to power in 1851 through a coup d'état, remained in the presidency until 1856, and then continued to dominate the political scene until 1860. During this decade and the one that followed, Urbina and his archrival, García Moreno, would define the dichotomy--between Liberals from Guayaquil and Conservatives from Quito--that remained the major sphere of political struggle in Ecuador in the 1980s.

By 1859--known by Ecuadorian historians as the Terrible Year--the nation was on the brink of anarchy. Local caudillos had declared several regions autonomous of the central government. One of these caudillos, Guayaquil's Guillermo Franco, signed the Treaty of Mapasingue ceding the southern provinces of Ecuador to an occupying Peruvian army led by General Ramón Castilla. This action was outrageous enough to unite some previously disparate elements. García Moreno, putting aside both his project to place Ecuador under a French protectorate and his differences with General Flores, got together with the former dictator to put down the various local rebellions and force out the Peruvians. This effort opened the last chapter of Flores's long career and marked the entrance to power of García Moreno.

Between 1852 and 1890, Ecuador's exports grew in value from slightly more than US$1 million to nearly US$10 million. Production of cacao, the most important export product in the late nineteenth century, grew from 6.5 million kilograms to 18 million kilograms during the same period. The agricultural export interests, centered in the coastal region near Guayaquil, became closely associated with the Liberals, whose political power also grew steadily during the interval. After the death of García Moreno, it took the Liberals twenty years to consolidate their strength sufficiently to assume control of the government in Quito.

The new era brought in liberalism, the most outstanding was Eloy Alfaro, under his direction the government headed out to aid those in the rural sectors of the coast. Alfaro is credited for finishing the construction of the railroad connecting Guayaquil and Quito, the separation of church and state, establishment of many public schools, implementing civil rights such as freedom of speech, and the legalization of civil marriages and divorce.

Sadly Alfaro too was confronted a dissident tendency inside its own party, directed by its General Leonidas Plaza and constituted by the upper middle class of Guayaquil. His death was followed with the economic liberalism (1912-25) when banks were allowed to acquire almost complete control of the country.

Popular unrest, together with the ongoing economic crisis and a sickly president, laid the background for a bloodless coup d'état in July 1925. Unlike all previous forays by the military into Ecuadorian politics, the coup of 1925 was made in the name of a collective grouping rather than a particular caudillo. The members of the League of Young Officers came to power with an agenda, which included a wide variety of social reforms, deal with the failing economy, establish the Central Bank as the unique authorized bank to distribute currency, create a new system of budge and customs.

Much of the 20th century was dominated by one José María Velasco Ibarra, whose 5 presidential terms began with an mandate in 1934 and final presidency ended in 1972. However the only term he actually completed was his 3rd from 1952-1956.

Much of the century was also dominated with the relations between Peru and Ecuador. In 1941 Peru invaded Ecuadorian territory. In that time the Equator was immersed in internal political fights, and was not well equipped to defend its territory.

With the world at war Ecuador attempted to settle the matter by means of a third party settlement. In Brazil the two countries negotiations were overseen by four "Guarantor" states (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the United States—four of the most powerful countries in the region). The resulting treaty known as the Rio Protocol. The protocol became the focus of a surge of Ecuadorian national pride and concomitant opposition which resulted in an uprising and overthrow of the government.

The Quiteño multitudes standing in the pouring rain on May 31, 1944, to hear Velasco promise a "national resurrection," with social justice and due punishment for the "corrupt Liberal oligarchy" that had been responsible for "staining the national honor," believed that they were witnessing the birth of a popular revolution. Arroyo partisans were promptly jailed or sent into exile, while Velasco verbally baited the business community and the rest of the political right. The leftist elements within Velasco's Democratic Alliance, which dominated the constituent assembly that was convened to write a new constitution, were nonetheless destined to be disappointed.

In May 1945, after a year of growing hostility between the president and the assembly, which was vainly awaiting deeds to substantiate Velasco's rhetorical advocacy of social justice, the mercurial chief executive condemned and then repudiated the newly completed constitution. After dismissing the assembly, Velasco held elections for a new assembly, which in 1946 drafted a far more conservative constitution that met with the president's approval. For this brief period, Conservatives replaced the left as Velasco's base of support.

Rather than attending to the nation's economic problems, Velasco aggravated them by financing the dubious schemes of his associates. Inflation continued unabated, as did its negative impact on the national standard of living, and by 1947 foreign exchange reserves had fallen to dangerously low levels. In August, when Velasco was ousted by his minister of defense, nobody rose to defend the man who, only three years earlier, had been hailed as the nation's savior. During the following year, three different men briefly held executive power before Galo Plaza Lasso, running under a coalition of independent Liberals and socialists, narrowly defeated his Conservative opponent in presidential elections. His inauguration in September 1948 initiated what was to become the longest period of constitutional rule since the 1912-24 heyday of the Liberal plutocracy.

Galo Plaza differed from previous Ecuadorian presidents. Galo Plaza brought a developmentalist and technocratic emphasis to Ecuadorian government. No doubt Galo Plaza's most important contribution to Ecuadorian political culture was his commitment to the principles and practices of democracy. As president he managed to foment the agricultural exports of Ecuador during his government, creating economic stability. During his presidency, an earthquake near Ambato severely damaged the city and surrounding areas and killed approximately 8,000 people. Unable to succeed himself, he left his office in 1952 as the first president in 28 years to complete his term in office.

A proof of the politically stabilizing effect of the banana boom of the 1950s is that even Velasco, who in 1952 was elected president for the third time, managed to serve out a full four-year term. Velasco's fourth turn in the presidency initiated a renewal of crisis, instability, and military domination and ended conjecture that the political system had matured or developed a democratic mold.

Roldós presided over a nation that had undergone profound changes during the seven years of military rule. There were impressive indicators of economic growth between 1972 and 1979: the government budget expanded some 540 percent, whereas exports as well as per capita income increased a full 500 percent. Industrial development had also progressed, stimulated by the new oil wealth as well as Ecuador's preferential treatment under the provisions of the Andean Common Market (Ancom, also known as the Andean Pact).

Roldós was killed, along with his wife and the minister of defense, in an airplane crash in the southern province of Loja on May 24, 1981. The death of Roldós generated intense popular speculation. Some Ecuadorian nationalists attributed it to the Peruvian government because the crash took place near the border where, the two nations had participated in a Paquisha War in their perpetual border dispute. Many of the nation's leftists, pointing to a similar crash that had killed Panamanian President Omar Torrijos Herrera less than three months later, blamed the United States government.

Roldós's constitutional successor, Osvaldo Hurtado, immediately faced an economic crisis brought on by the sudden end of the petroleum boom. Massive foreign borrowing, initiated during the years of the second military regime and continued under Roldós, resulted in a foreign debt that by 1983 was nearly US$7 billion. The nation's petroleum reserves declined sharply during the early 1980s because of exploration failures and rapidly increasing domestic consumption. The economic crisis was aggravated in 1982 and 1983 by drastic climatic changes, bringing severe drought as well as flooding, precipitated by the appearance of the unusually warm ocean current known as "El Niño". Analysts estimated damage to the nation's infrastructure at US$640 million, with balance-of- payments losses of some US$300 million. The real gross domestic product fell to 2 percent in 1982 and to -3.3 percent in 1983. The rate of inflation in 1983, 52.5 percent, was the highest ever recorded in the nation's history.

Outside observers noted that, however unpopular, Hurtado deserved credit for keeping Ecuador in good standing with the international financial community and for consolidating Ecuador's democratic political system under extremely difficult conditions. As León Febres Cordero entered office on August 10, there was no end in sight to the economic crisis nor to the intense struggle that characterized the political process in Ecuador.

During the first years of the Rivadeneira administration, Febres-Cordero introduced free-market economic policies, took a strong stand 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.

Rodrigo Borja Cevallos of the Democratic Left (ID) party won the presidency in 1988, running in the runoff election against Abdalá Bucaram of the PRE. His government was committed to improving human rights protection and carried out some reforms, notably an opening of Ecuador to foreign trade. The Borja government concluded an accord leading to the disbanding of the small terrorist group, "¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo!" ("Alfaro Lives, Dammit!") named after Eloy Alfaro. However, continuing economic problems undermined the popularity of the ID, and opposition parties gained control of Congress in 1990.

In 1992, Sixto Durán Ballén won his third run for the presidency. His tough macroeconomic adjustment measures were unpopular, but he succeeded in pushing a limited number of modernization initiatives through Congress. Durán Ballén'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 (named the Cenepa War, after a river located in the area) erupted in January-February 1995 in a small, remote region, where the boundary prescribed by the 1942 Rio Protocol was in dispute. The Durán-Ballén Administration can be credited with beginning the negotiations that would end in a final settlement of the territorial dispute.

In 1996, Abdalá Bucaram, from the populist Ecuadorian Roldosista Party, won the presidency on a platform that promised populist economic and social reforms. Almost from the start, Bucaram's administration languished amidst widespread allegations of corruption. Empowered by the president's unpopularity with organized labor, business, and professional organizations alike, Congress unseated Bucaram in February 1997 on grounds of mental incompetence. The Congress replaced Bucaram with Interim President Fabián Alarcón.

In May 1997, following the demonstrations that led to the ousting of Bucaram and appointment of Alarcón, the people of Ecuador called for a National Assembly to reform the Constitution and the country's political structure. After a little more than a year, the National Assembly produced a new Constitution.

Congressional 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 DP and Social Christian Álvaro Noboa Pontón - 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. However, the coup de grace for Mahuad's administration was Mahuad's decision to make the local currency, the sucre (named after Antonio José de Sucre), obsolete and replace it with the U.S. dollar (a policy called dollarization). This caused massive unrest as the lower classes struggled to convert their now useless sucres to U.S. dollars and lost wealth, while the upper classes (whose members already had their wealth invested in U.S. dollars) gained wealth in turn. Under Mahuad's recession-plagued term, the economy shrank significantly and inflation reached levels of up to 60 percent.

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, in a move that resembled the coups d'etat endemic to Ecuadorean history, 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 failed negotiations President Mahuad was forced to flee the presidential palace for his own safety. Vice President Gustavo Noboa took charge by vice-presidential decree; Mahuad went on national television in the morning to endorse Noboa as his successor. The military triumvirate that was effectively running the country also endorsed Noboa. The Ecuadorean Congress then met in an emergency session in Guayaquil on the same day, January 22, and ratified Noboa as President of the Republic in constitutional succession to Mahuad.

Although Ecuador began to improve economically in the following months, the government of Noboa came under heavy fire for the continuation of the dollarization policy, its disregard for social problems and other important issues in Ecuadorean politics.

Retired Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez, a member of the military junta that overthrew Mahuad, was elected president in 2002 and assumed the presidency on January 15, 2003. Gutierrez's Patriotic Society Party had a small fraction of the seats in Congress and therefore depended on the support of other parties in Congress to pass legislation.

In December 2004, Gutiérrez unconstitutionally dissolved and appointed new judges to the Supreme Court. This move was generally seen as a kickback to deposed ex-President Abdalá Bucaram, whose political party had sided with Gutiérrez and helped derail attempts to impeach him in late 2004. The new Supreme Court dropped charges of corruption pending against the exiled Bucaram, who soon returned to the politically unstable country. The corruption evident in these maneuvers finally led Quito's middle classes to seek the ousting of Gutiérrez in early 2005. In April 2005, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces declared that it "withdrew its support" for the President. After weeks of public protests, Gutiérrez was overthrown in April. Vice President Alfredo Palacio assumed the Presidency and vowed to complete the term of office and hold elections in 2006.

In 15 January 2007, the social-democrat Rafael Correa succeeded Palacio as President of Ecuador, with the promise of summoning a Constituent Assembly, and bringing focus on poverty.

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Ecuador Davis Cup team

The Ecuador Davis Cup team represents Ecuador in Davis Cup tennis competition and are governed by the Ecuador Tennis Federation.

Ecuador currently compete in the Americas Zone of Group II. They last competed in the World Group in 2001.

Ecuador competed in its first Davis Cup in 1961.

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List of birds of Ecuador

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Ecuador. The avifauna of Ecuador includes a total of 1663 species, of which 16 are endemic, 2 have been introduced by humans, and 19 are rare or accidental. 77 species are globally threatened.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follows the conventions of Clements's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Ecuador.

The following tags have been used to highlight certain relevant categories. It must be noted that not all species fall into one of these categories. Those that do not are commonly occurring, native species.

Non-passerines: Tinamous . Penguins . Grebes . Albatrosses . Shearwaters and Petrels . Storm-Petrels . Tropicbirds . Pelicans . Boobies and Gannets . Cormorants . Darters . Frigatebirds . Bitterns, Herons and Egrets . Storks . Ibises and Spoonbills . Flamingos . Screamers . Ducks, Geese and Swans . New World vultures . Osprey . Hawks, Kites and Eagles . Caracaras and Falcons . Guans, Chachalacas and allies . New World quails . Hoatzin . Limpkins . Trumpeters . Rails, Crakes, Gallinules, and Coots . Sungrebe and Finfoots . Sunbittern . Jacanas . Oystercatchers . Avocets and Stilts . Thick-knees . Plovers and Lapwings . Sandpipers and allies . Seedsnipes . Skuas and Jaegers . Gulls . Terns . Skimmers . Pigeons and Doves . Parrots, Macaws and allies . Cuckoos and Anis . Barn owls . Typical owls . Oilbird . Potoos . Nightjars . Swifts . Hummingbirds . Trogons and Quetzals . Kingfishers . Motmots . Jacamars . Puffbirds . Barbets . Toucans . Woodpeckers and allies .

Passerines: Ovenbirds . Woodcreepers . Typical antbirds . Antthrushes and Antpittas . Gnateaters . Tapaculos . Cotingas . Manakins . Tyrant flycatchers . Swallows and Martins . Wagtails and Pipits . Waxwings . Dippers . Wrens . Mockingbirds and Thrashers . Thrushes and allies . Gnatcatchers . Crows, Jays, Ravens and Magpies . Vireos . New World warblers . Bananaquit . Tanagers . Buntings, Sparrows, Seedeaters and allies . Saltators, Cardinals and allies . Troupials and allies . Siskins, Crossbills and allies . Sparrows .

The tinamous are one of the most ancient groups of bird. Although they look similar to other ground-dwelling birds like quail and grouse, they have no close relatives and are classified as a single family Tinamidae within their own order, the Tinamiformes. They are distantly related to the ratites (order Struthioniformes), that includes the rheas, emu, and kiwi. There are 47 species worldwide and 16 species which occur in Ecuador.

The penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid, and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. There are 17 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ecuador.

Grebes are small to medium-large sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. There are 20 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Ecuador.

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. There are 21 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Ecuador.

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized 'true petrels', characterised by united nostrils with a medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. There are 75 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Ecuador.

The storm-petrels are relatives of the petrels, and are the smallest of sea-birds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 21 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Ecuador.

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes. There are 8 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ecuador.

The sulids comprise the gannets and boobies. Both groups comprise medium-to-large coastal sea-birds that plunge-dive for fish. There are 9 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium-to-large coastal, fish-eating sea-birds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black and white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Ecuador.

Darters are frequently referred to as "snake-birds" because of their long thin neck, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape and a larger bill than the female. The females have a much paler plumage especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet, and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving. There are 4 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

Frigatebirds are large sea-birds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black and white or completely black, with long wings and deeply-forked tails. The males have inflatable coloured throat pouches. They do not swim or walk, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week. There are 5 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ecuador.

The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide and 22 species which occur in Ecuador.

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are mute; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory. There are 19 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers. There are 36 species worldwide and 8 species which occur in Ecuador.

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly-shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ecuador.

The screamers are a small family of birds related to the ducks. They are large, bulky birds, with a small downy head, long legs and large feet which are only partially webbed. They have large spurs on their wings which are used in fights over mates and territorial disputes. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are modified for an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 18 species which occur in Ecuador.

The New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures, but superficially resemble them because of convergent evolution. Like the Old World vultures, they are scavengers. However, unlike Old World vultures, which find carcasses by sight, New World vultures have a good sense of smell with which they locate carrion. There are 7 species worldwide, all of which are found only in the Americas, and 5 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Pandionidae family contains only one species, the Osprey. The Osprey is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species worldwide and 49 species which occur in Ecuador.

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. There are 62 species worldwide and 19 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Cracidae are large birds, similar in general appearance to turkeys. The guans and curassows live in trees, but the smaller chachalacas are found in more open scrubby habitats. They are generally dull-plumaged, but the curassows and some guans have colourful facial ornaments. There are 50 species worldwide and 15 species which occur in Ecuador.

The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. There are 32 species worldwide, all found only in the Americas, and 6 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Hoatzin is pheasant-sized - but much slimmer - long-tailed, long-necked and has a small head. It has an unfeathered blue face with red eyes, and its head is topped by spiky crest. It is a weak flier which is found in the swamps of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.

The Limpkin resembles a large rail. It has drab brown plumage and a greyer head and neck.

The trumpeters are dumpy birds with long necks and legs, and chicken-like bills. They are named for the trumpeting call of the males. There are 3 species worldwide, restricted to the Amazon basin, and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. There are 143 species worldwide and 26 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Heliornithidae are small family of tropical birds with webbed lobes on their feet similar to those of grebes and coots. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

The Sunbittern is a bittern-like bird of tropical regions of the Americas, and the sole member of the family Eurypygidae (sometimes spelled Eurypigidae) and genus Eurypyga.

The jacanas are a group of tropical waders in the family Jacanidae. They are found worldwide in the Tropics. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat. There 8 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

The oystercatchers are large and noisy plover-like birds, with strong bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs. There are 11 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. There are 9 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ecuador.

The thick-knees are a group of largely tropical waders in the family Burhinidae. They are found worldwide within the tropical zone, with some species also breeding in temperate Europe and Australia. They are medium to large waders with strong black or yellow black bills, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. Despite being classed as waders, most species have a preference for arid or semi-arid habitats. There are 9 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water, although there are some exceptions. There are 66 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Scolopacidae are a large diverse family of small to medium sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Variation in length of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 36 species which occur in Ecuador.

The seedsnipes are a small family of birds that superficially resemble sparrows. They have short legs and long wings and are herbivorous waders. There are 4 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Ecuador.

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants. There are 7 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Ecuador.

Laridae is a family of medium to large birds seabirds and includes gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Ecuador.

Terns are a group of generally general medium to large sea-birds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species now known to live in excess of 25 to 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 18 species which occur in Ecuador.

Skimmers are a small family of tropical tern-like birds. They have an elongated lower mandible which they use to feed by flying low over the water surface and skimming the water for small fish. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. There are 308 species worldwide and 28 species which occur in Ecuador.

Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and the have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. There are 335 species worldwide and 49 species which occur in Ecuador.

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Unlike the cuckoo species of the Old World, North American cuckoos are not brood parasites. There are 138 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Ecuador.

Barn owls are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. There are 195 species worldwide and 29 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Oilbird is a slim, long-winged bird related to the nightjars. It is nocturnal and a specialist feeder on the fruit of the Oil palm.

The potoos (sometimes called Poor-Me-Ones) are large near passerine birds related to the nightjars and frogmouths. They are nocturnal insectivores which lack the bristles around the mouth found in the true nightjars. There are 5 species, all of which are from the South American tropical region, and 5 species which occur in Ecuador.

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills that usually nest on the ground. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves. There are 86 species worldwide and 19 species which occur in Ecuador.

Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide and 14 species which occur in Ecuador.

Hummingbirds are small birds capable of hovering in mid-air due to the rapid flapping of their wings. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. There are 337 species worldwide and 135 species which occur in Ecuador.

The family Trogonidae includes trogons and quetzals. Found in tropical woodlands worldwide, they feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons have soft, often colourful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage. There are 33 species worldwide and 12 species which occur in Ecuador.

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Ecuador.

The motmots have colorful plumage and long, graduated tails, which they display by waggling back and forth. In most of the species, the barbs near the ends of the two longest (central) tail feathers are weak and fall off, leaving a length of bare shaft, and creating a racket-shaped tail. There are 10 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Ecuador.

The jacamars are near passerine birds from tropical South America, with a range that extends up to Mexico. They are glossy elegant birds with long bills and tails, which feed on insects caught on the wing. In appearance and behaviour they show resemblances to the Old World bee-eaters, although they are more closely related to woodpeckers. There are 18 species and 9 species that occur in Ecuador.

The puffbirds are related to the jacamars, and have the same range, but lack the iridescent colours of that family. They are mainly brown, rufous or grey, with large heads and flattened bills with a hooked tip. The loose abundant plumage and short tails makes them look stout and puffy, giving rise to the English common name of the family. There are 34 species and 20 species which occur in Ecuador.

The barbets are plump birds, with short necks and large heads. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. Most species are brightly coloured. There are 84 species worldwide and 7 species which occur in Ecuador.

Toucans are near passerine birds from the neotropics. They are brightly marked and have enormous, colourful bills which in some species may amount to half their body length. There are 40 species worldwide and 18 species which occur in Ecuador.

Woodpeckers are small to medium sized birds with chisel like beaks, short legs, stiff tails and long tongues used for capturing insects. Some species have feet with two toes pointing forward, and two backward, while several species have only three toes. Many woodpeckers have the habit of tapping noisily on tree trunks with their beaks. There are 218 species worldwide and 36 species which occur in Ecuador.

Ovenbirds comprise a large family of small sub-oscine passerine bird species found in Central and South America. They are a diverse group of insectivores which gets its name from the elaborate "oven-like" clay nests built by some species, although others build stick nests or nest in tunnels or clefts in rock. There are 243 species worldwide and 79 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Dendrocolaptidae are brownish birds and maintain an upright vertical posture, supported by their stiff tail vanes. They feed mainly on insects taken from tree trunks. There are 57 species worldwide and 28 species which occur in Ecuador.

The antbirds are a large family of small passerine birds of subtropical and tropical Central and South America. They are forest birds, and tend to feed on insects at or near the ground. A sizable minority of them specialize in following columns of army ants to eat the small invertebrates that leave hiding to flee the ants.Many species lack bright colour; brown, black and white being the dominant tones. There are about 212 species worldwide and 96 species which occur in Ecuador.

The ground antbirds are a family comprising the antthrushes and antpittas. Antthrushes resemble small rails while antpittas resemble the true pittas with longish strong legs, very short tails and stout bills. There are about 63 species worldwide and 30 species which occur in Ecuador.

The gnateaters are round, short-tailed, and long-legged birds, which are closely related to the antbirds. There are 8 species worldwide, all found in South America, and 3 species which occur in Ecuador.

The tapaculos are a group of small suboscine passeriform birds with numerous species, found in South America. They are terrestrial species that fly only poorly on their short wings. They have strong legs, well-suited to their habitat of grassland or forest undergrowth. The tail is cocked and pointed towards the head. There are 56 species worldwide and 17 species which occur in Ecuador.

The manakins are a family bird species of subtropical and tropical mainland Central and South America, and Trinidad and Tobago. They are compact forest birds, the males typically being brightly coloured, although the females of most species are duller and usually green-plumaged. Manakins feed on small fruits, berries and insects. There are 57 species worldwide and 21 species which occur in Ecuador.

Tyrant flycatchers are passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. They superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, but are more robust with stronger bills. They do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of the songbirds. Most, but not all, have plain colouring. As the name implies, most are insectivorous. There are 429 species worldwide, all found only in the Americas and 211 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. There are 75 species worldwide and 18 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterized by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name. These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter. There are 3 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

Dippers are a group of perching birds whose habitat includes aquatic environments in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. They are named for their bobbing or dipping movements. There are 5 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 80 species worldwide (of which all but one are New World species) and 25 species which occur in Ecuador.

The mimids are a family of passerine birds that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. These birds are notable for their vocalizations, especially their ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors. Their colouring tends towards dull greys and browns . There are 35 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Ecuador.

The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide and 22 species which occur in Ecuador.

These dainty birds resemble Old World warblers in their build and habits, moving restlessly through the foliage seeking insects. The gnatcatchers and gnatwrens are mainly soft bluish grey in colour, and have the typical insectivore's long sharp bill. They are birds of fairly open woodland or scrub, and nest in bushes or trees. There are 15 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show high levels of learning behavior. There are 120 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Ecuador.

The vireos are a group of small to medium sized passerine birds restricted to the New World. They are typically greenish in colour and resemble wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. There are 52 species worldwide and 13 species which occur in Ecuador.

The New World warblers are a group of small, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most are arboreal, but some are terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores. There are 119 species worldwide and 30 species which occur in Ecuador.

The Bananaquit is a small passerine bird. It has a slender, curved bill, adapted to taking nectar from flowers and is the only member of the genus Coereba (Vieillot, 1809) and is normally placed within the family Coerebidae, although there is uncertainty whether that placement is correct.

The tanagers are a large group of small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to the New World, mainly in the tropics. Many species are brightly coloured. They are seed eaters, but their preference tends towards fruit and nectar. Most have short, rounded wings. There are 256 species worldwide and 135 species which occur in Ecuador.

The emberizids are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. In Europe, most species are named as buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as Sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the Old World sparrows which are in the family Passeridae. Many emberizid species have distinctive head patterns. There are species 275 worldwide and 78 species which occur in Ecuador.

The cardinals are a family of passerine birds that are robust, seed-eating birds, with strong bills. They are typically associated with open woodland. The sexes usually have distinct plumages. There are 43 species worldwide and 15 species which occur in Ecuador.

The icterids are a group of small to medium, often colourful, passerine birds restricted to the New World and include the grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles. Most species have black as the predominant plumage colour, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. There are 98 species worldwide and 30 species which occur in Ecuador.

Finches are seed-eating passerine birds, that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. There are 137 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in Ecuador.

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Ecuador.

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Military of Ecuador

Map of the long lasting territorial dispute between Ecuador and Peru, settled only in 1998. (in Spanish)

The Ecuadorian Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas del Ecuador) are part of the public forces and responsible for the preservation of the integrity and national sovereignty of the national territory. It involves participation in the social and economic development of the country and the provision of assistance in the maintenance of internal order. Some mayor tasks include; fighting organised crime, anti-narcotic operations, illegal immigration and FARC insurgency from Colombia . Social development programmes apply the provision of teachers for rural schools through an accord with the Ministry of Education. Environmental protection is also a priority, several programmes were implemented: "National Forestation and Ornamentation", "Lonely Tree", "Green Surveillance", "Fire Plan", "Ecuador Forest" and "Arenillas Military Reserve". The Armed Forces are an essential part of the countries infrastructure and regarded as one of the most respected institutions in Ecuador. A high military presence is maintained along its troubled border with Colombia and Peru, overseas territories include the Galapagos Islands and the "Pedro Vicente Maldonado" Naval Biological Research Station in the Antarctic. Relations with its neighbour Peru have improved since the signing of a Peace Treaty in 1998, however, relations with Colombia have been strained due to a number of cross border raids by Colombian forces on FARC guerrillas . The diplomatic crisis which followed in 2008 continues to affect Ecuadors national defence policy. Since 2009 the new administration at the Defence Ministry launched a deep restructurisation within the forces.

Ecuadors military history dates back to its first attempt to secure freedom from Spain in 1811. The rebel forces of the newly declared independent state of Quito attempted to extend their control to other parts of the territory but proved little match for the army dispatched by the Viceroy of Peru. In the Battle of Ibarra in December 1812, Spanish forces easily reasserted control over the contested area. When another independence movement began in 1820, Ecuadorian forces assembled in Guayaquil, combining with contingents of revolutionary soldiers from Colombia commanded by Antonio José de Sucre, a close collaborator of the Venezuelan liberator, Simón Bolívar Palacios . After a successful invasion in the Andean highlands, the rebels scored a decisive victory over the royalist army in 1822 at the Battle of Pichincha. In 1828, as a member along with Colombia and Venezuela of the Confederation of Gran Colombia, Ecuador fought against Peru to block the latter's attempt at annexation. Confederation forces, fewer than half of which were Ecuadorians, gloriously defeated the much larger Peruvian invasion force near Cuenca, at the Battle of Tarqui on 26 February and 27 February 1829.

At the dissolution of Gran Colombia in 1830, most of Ecuadors senior army officers and many of its troops were Venezuelans, as was the countries first president, Juan José Flores. The army of 2,000 men consisted of three infantry battalions and one cavalry regiment. Even as late as 1845, when Juan José Flores was forced from his second term of office, only four of fifteen general officers were Ecuadorian. Non-Ecuadorians comprised most of the officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the elite cavalry units as well. Upon taking office as president in 1851, General José María Urbina freed the black slaves and recruited many of them into the military; Gen. Azarye was the first African-Ecuadorian senior General.

In the 1860's, successive governments attempted to professionalize the Ecuadorian Armed Forces. Gabriel García Moreno, who dominated the political scene from 1860 until 1875, reduced the army in size and depoliticized it. Further improvements occurred during the relatively prosperous period of the 1880s and 1890s under the military dictator Gen. Ignacio de Veintemilla, and successor civilian governments. French officers arrived to provide training on a newly acquired arsenal of weapons. By 1900 the army was able to repel an attack from Colombia which was organised by Ecuadorian political opponents of the government in power.

In 1905 the government established military education and training institutions and divided the country into four defense zones. Immediately preceding World War I, the army had nine Infantry battalions, three Cavalry regiments, three Artillery regiments, and three Engineering battalions. It was in the years of 1913 to 1916 that all the work done since the beginning of the century was tested. Following the assassination of Gen. Eloy Alfaro, Crnl. Carlos Concha, a famed and revered field commander started a revolution in the northern province of Esmeraldas. The Civil War had started and the army was slowly destroyed by the insurgency forces. By the year of 1914 Gen. Leonidas Plaza who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and acting President had to take personal control of operations and it would take another two years to end the conflict. In these times both, the army and Navy started the development of joined tasks such as amphibious landing operations, earning a lot of experience in this field. By the mid-1920s, it had expanded to fifteen Infantry battalions. Later, under the influence of an Italian military mission, the Infantry was reduced to ten battalions, although each battalion now consisted of four rather than the previous two or three rifle companies. In 1930 the army had a total strength of about 5,500 men of all ranks.

Continual political unrest made the forces become more deliberant regarding constitutional issues. Rebellions, uprisings and lack of loyalty of both senior Generals and medium ranking officers made the Ecuadorian forces weak and disorganized. In July 1941, Peru captured areas of the Amazon region which Ecuador claimed as their own, the Ecuadorian Army was ill-prepared for such an invasion. The much larger Peruvian Army of 13,000, supported by a battalion of Czech-manufactured tanks, with artillery and air power, moved quickly into the southern coastal province of El Oro, threatening Guayaquil. The fewer than 1,800 Ecuadorian troops in the area lacked air cover and could offer only limited resistance. Peruvian forces also moved into the Ecuadorian amazon territory without significant opposition. After a campaign lasting only three weeks, an armistice was forced upon Ecuador. The subsequent Rio Protocol in early 1942, which was imposed by the threat of total annihilation, forced the Ecuadorean government to accept Peruvian claims in the amazon region, in exchange for an end of the Peruvian occupation in the Ecuadorean coastal areas.

Ecuador declared war on Japan late during World War II and began to receive military aid from the United States in 1942. This aid consisted at first of light weapons, mortars, light tanks, and armored scout cars. Under a military assistance agreement with the United States in 1952, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces, which now totaled approximately 15,000 troops, received additional equipment, including howitzers, tanks, and armoured personnel carriers. Revenue coming from the oil discovered in the late 1960s financed the purchase of considerable additional ground forces weaponry as well as fighters for the small Air Force.

Occasional clashes with Peru occurred in the border area lost by Ecuador in the 1942 settlement of the Rio Protocol. These clashes flared into an outbreak of serious fighting in January 1981 called the Paquisha War. Peruvian forces attacked Ecuadorian outposts on disputed territory which caused the death of around 200 Ecuadorian soldiers who were attempting to stem the invasion. The Peruvians made effective use of helicopters, air strikes, and commando teams specially trained for jungle operations. The Ecuadorians were driven back to the summit of the Cordillera del Cóndor. In 1983 and again in 1984, shooting incidents occurred when patrols of both countries met yet again on disputed land.

The final major military operation was the Cenepa War in which Ecuadorian troops kept an outpost in disputed territory and against all odds managed to push the Peruvians back. Unlike the previous wars, Ecuador finally had air support superior to the Peruvian Air Force. However, forced by external influences the Ecuadorian government had to abort its intentions and sign a Peace Treaty which was based upon the previous Rio Protocol on the 26th October 1998. As a result Ecuador had to renounce the territories of Tumbes, Jaen and Maynas to the Peruvians as well as re-draw their official maps.

The Ecuadorian Army (Ejército Ecuatoriano) is well equipped with reasonably homogeneous material. Its 24,135 soldiers are sensibly deployed in relation to the threat from its neighbours. Ecuador cannot match the material resources of Colombia or Peru, but its military forces have performed well in previous conflicts since 1941. The contemporary Ecuadorian Army is qualitatively one of the best in the region, thanks to its jungle and special forces infantry units, only its capability to fight large armoured units in the coastal region is suspect, given that its armoured arsenal includes only light AMX 13 tanks and Armoured personnel carriers (APC)s. The Army tried to rectify this with large and efficient anti-tank forces which include HOT-equipped helicopters as well as a recent order of 30 Leopard 1 V Main Battle Tanks from Chile . In 2009 new doctrines regarding: border control, anti-narcotic, anti-smuggler and anti-illegal immigration were introduced, altogether with a 5th Military Defence Zone in the North.

The Ecuadorian territory is currently divided into four "Military Defence Zones", each zone represents an Army Division. Divisions are units with appropriate support to allow independent operations, therefore each "Military Defence Zone" consists of; Artillery, Army Aviation, Engineers and Logistic Support including; Signals, Medical and Military Police units. The Brigades itself, are not numbered consecutively and carry odd numbers in the series of 1 to 27.

The Ecuadorian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana), was officially created on the 27 October 1920. However, like in many other countries, military flying activity started before the formal date of birth of the Air Force. The history of Ecuador is marked by many skirmishes with its neighbour Peru. As a direct result of the 1910 Ecuador-Peru crisis, members of Club de Tiro Guayaquil decided to expand their sporting activities into aviation as well. Renamed Club de Tiro y Aviación they started an aviation school. Cosme Renella, an Italian mechanic and practical pilot, was asked to fly the first aircraft that arrived in November 1912. Surviving a crash during this demonstration flight, Renella was given the rank of a "Capitán". He went later on to fight in Europe during the I World War. Renella became a true ace with as many as 17 combat victories and several distinctions. His efforts within the founding phase of Ecuadorian military aviation are still honoured today by naming the Superior School of Military Aviation (Escuela Superior Militar de Aviación) after him.

Aviation did not start in earnest until the early forties when an Ecuadorian mission to the United States resulted in the delivery of an assortment of aircrafts for the Aviation school at Salinas. Three PT-22 Recruit, six Curtiss-Wright CW-22, six Fairchild PT-19 and three North American AT-6A Harvard arrived in March 1942, considerably boosting the capacity of the Aviation School in Salinas, (Escuela de Aviación Salinas).

The fifties and sixties saw a further build up of the Air Force, gaining more units and aircrafts. Meanwhile efforts were made in enhancing the facilities at various airbases. In May 1961 the First Air Zone (I Zona Aérea) with its subordinate unit Ala de Transportes No.11 was founded. The Second Air Zone (II Zona Aérea) controled the units in the southern halve of Ecuador: Ala de Combate No.21 at Taura, Ala de Rescate No.22 at Guayaquil and Ala de Combate No.23 at Manta as well as the Escuela Superior Militar de Aviación at Salinas. The FAE has a personnel of 6,055 and includes their own Air Force Infantry (Infanteria Area) responsible for a variety of tasks; training of Air Force ground personnel, protection of VIPs and Air Force Bases as well as conduct of combat rescue operations. A Commando unit operates within its structure.

The Air force has a mixture of types on its inventory, mostly from Western origin. The prime fighters are twelve Mirage F.1 and nine Kfir C2, TC2, C7, C10, CE, all based at Taura with Ala 21, (Jaguar Mk.1 were withdrawn from service). For light attack missions, six Strikemaster Mk.89, 90, twelve A-37B are in use at Manta with Ala 23. These aircrafts do often operate from airfields within the Amazon rainforest.

The transport wing uses fiveCE 150L, four HS 748, three DHC-6, two types of the C-130 Hercules and two IAI 201. The rotary wing consists of; twenty three UH-1 Iroquois, seven newly acquired Hal Dhruv, four Fennecs and two Alouette helicopters. Ala 11 has its own 'commercial' branch, like in many other South American countries, the Transporte Aérea Militar Ecuatoriana TAME. Besides the military transport aircraft, they also use one Boeing 727 and Fokker F28 aircraft. Flying to locations off the beaten track, mostly lacking service by a commercial airline, TAME provides an additional service to the people of Ecuador. Presidential transport is the tasking of Ala 11; two Sabreliners and one Embraer Legacy 600. Pilot training is carried out on T-34 Mentor fixed wing trainers and on TH 57 Searanger helicopters .

The FAE saw action on several occasions. A history of border disputes with Peru saw escalation in 1981 and 1995. During the last conflict (Cenepa War, the FAE managed to down nine Peruvian aircrafts , among which were one A-37B , two Su-22 and several Mi-8. Besides the conflicts with Peru, believed being subdued by the 26 October 1998 Brasilia peace treaty, the FAE faces the war on drugs, guerilla insurgency as well as humanitarian missions into the amazon region of the country. Supporting such a relatively large airforce of different types must be a burden. Nevertheless, due to the perils of the past and present, the FAE is to maintain a high profile.

In 2008 the frequent border conflicts with Colombia escalated into a crisis. Ecuador responded with ordering twenty four Brazilian Super Tucano light combat aircrafts , seven HAL Dhruv helicoperts from India and acquired six modern Chinese JY 11 low altitude radars to reinforce its borders.

The Ecuadorian Armed Forces provide Military Observers and troops to the United Nations since 1948. In November 2003, an Ecuadorian United Nations Training Centre was established under the name of: (La Unidad Escuela de Misiones de Paz “Ecuador”). As of 2009, Ecuador is deploying over 90 peacekeepers around the globe.

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Source : Wikipedia