The tropical country Ecuador lies on both sides of the equator in the northwest of South America. The nature of the country is mainly shaped by the Andes chains with highlands in between.
As one of the 8 countries starting with E according to COUNTRYAAH, Ecuador is an agriculturally structured developing country whose economy is mainly based on banana and oil exports. Ecuador is therefore heavily dependent on the world market.
Ecuador, the smallest of the Andean countries (Chile, Peru, Bolivia) in northwest South America, is slightly larger than Great Britain. The Galápagos Islands, 1000 km off the Pacific coast, also belong to the national territory. The country is on the Pacific Ocean. It borders Colombia in the north and Peru in the south (Fig. 1).
The capital Quito is located at an altitude of almost 3000 m in the Andes and is the highest state capital in the world.
There are three major landscape zones in Ecuador: In the west, along the coast of the Pacific with the Gulf of Guayaquil, the 50 to 160 km wide coastal lowlands, the Costa. The lowland heaped up by the mountain rivers in the foreland of the Andes is crossed by low coastal mountains (up to 700 m above sea level).
The Costa is tropical and humid and covered by thick rainforests. However, towards the south it becomes drier under the increasing influence of the cold Humboldt Current. The rainforests on the Gulf of Guayaquil initially change into savannas and semi-deserts. The Peruvian coastal desert begins in the extreme dryness of the extreme south.
The Andes region forms the center of the country . From north to south, two Andean chains stretching around 5000 m high stretch through the country. The two cordillera enclose the sierra, several basin-like Andean highlands between 2500 and 3000 m high.
Due to the high altitude and the location in the rain shadow of the Andean peaks, the climate here is only cool and temperate, and a dry season of up to nine months occurs.
The sierra is dominated by ice-armored volcanic peaks, including Chimborazo (6267 m), the highest mountain in Ecuador, and Cotopaxi (5897 m), the highest active volcano on earth.
In the Andean highlands with their more tolerable climate are the main settlement areas of the country’s population. The slopes of the Eastern Cordillera drop steeply to the east to the eastern lowlands, the Oriente, in the Amazon river basin. The area covered with impenetrable rainforests is largely undeveloped and unpopulated.
Important data about the country
|Surface:||283 561 km²|
|Population density:||47 residents / km² (highest population density of all South American countries)|
|Growth of population:||1.5% / year|
|Life expectancy: (men / women)||68/73 years|
|Form of government:||Presidential Republic|
|Population groups:||Mestizos 65%, Indians 25%, whites 7%, blacks and mulattos 3%|
|Languages:||Spanish as the official language, Quechua and other Indian languages|
|Religions:||Catholics with more than 90%, native American religions|
|Climate:||Ever humid to alternately humid tropical climate with year-round constant temperatures of around 26 °C and pronounced thermal elevations in the Andean region|
|Land use:||Forest 52%, pasture land 17%, arable land 9%|
|Main export goods:||Bananas, coffee, cocoa, petroleum|
|Gross domestic product:||$ 27,201 million (2003)|
(share of GDP, 2003)
|Industry 29%, agriculture 8%, services 64%|
|Gross National Product:||US $ 1,830 / residents (2003)|
The biggest problem facing the developing country in Ecuador is poverty. Almost a third of Ecuadorians live below the poverty line.
A major reason for this is the extremely unequal distribution of property. 1% of landowners still own 40% of the land. In contrast, two thirds of the Indian farmers have to make do with less than 5 hectares, and mostly less fertile soil. Many farmers therefore leave the country and go to the cities. But in the cities of the Andean highlands, where more than half the population already lives, the situation is only slightly different. At the end of the 1990’s, more than 40% of all employed people were considered underemployed or unemployed.
In addition there was the highest inflation rate and the lowest economic growth among the Andean countries.
One reason for the difficult situation of the country is the sole orientation of its economy on the export of raw materials and the resulting dependence on the world market as well as failures in the industrialization of the country.
The economy of Ecuador rests on two pillars: agriculture, especially banana growing, and oil production.
Ecuador is the world’s largest banana producer.
The banana plantations are mainly located in the Costa, as the climatic conditions for good yields (uniformly high temperatures and abundant rainfall) are given here. In addition, cocoa, coffee and sugar cane are also produced for export. The food production for the own needs of the rapidly growing population (grain, potatoes, vegetables) takes place in the cool, temperate climate of the Andean highlands.
After major oil discoveries in the Amazon lowlands (Oriente) and the construction of a pipeline to the coast, Ecuador developed into the second largest oil exporter after Venezuela in the 1970’s. South America. In terms of value, oil exports very quickly displaced the export of bananas from the top position.