Ecuador is a country full of beauty and culture. It also has an interesting history. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the country of Ecuador as it relates to Geography, Natural Resources, Political and legal System (past & current), Culture, major Trading Partners (past & present), Export, labor forces and Technology. Let us begin the discussion by discussing the history of the country.
History of Ecuador
The history of Ecuador is amongst the most interesting in all the world. Most of the nation that is now known as Ecuador was captured by the Peruvian Incas in the 15th century (Ecuador 2001). The conquest of the Incans is described in more detail by Meggers (1966). The author asserts that the Incan conquest of Ecuador was commenced between 1463 and 1471, when the southern highland basins of Loja and Cuenca were integrated into the Empire by Topa Inca. The author explains that
"His son, Huayna Capac, extended the northern frontier to the present Ecuador -Colombia boundary after his succession to the throne in 1493. The conquest of the Cara is said to have taken 17 years and required a series of bloody battles, in which the Inca armies more than once fled in defeat. Inca resources of manpower were superior, however, and victory was ultimately theirs. To punish the Cara for resistance, Huayna Capac ordered the capture and execution of all who had fought against him. Whole villages of survivors were moved to the region south of Cuzco, their populations replaced by loyal subjects from that area (Meggers 1966).
The Inca's were defeated by the Spanish army in 1533, the same year the last Incan emperor was killed (Ecuador 2001). In 1830, Ecuador gained its independence (Ecuador 2001).
In addition, Ecuador has historically been an extremely religious country. According to Goffin (1994), in the 369 years between the arrival of Spaniards and the Liberal revolution, the foundation of Ecuadorian society embodied the connection between the Catholic Church and the state (Goffin, 1994). The author reports, "Throughout that period religion and history were inseparable." In witnessing the disbanding of the Confederation of the Gran Colombia in 1830, Simon Bolivar observed that "Venezuela would always be a country of the military, Colombia a country of intellectuals, and Ecuador "a convent (Goffin 1994)."
According to the CIA world factbook Ecuador is a country with a population of 13,212,742 located in the Western part of South America and borders the Pacific Ocean (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). In addition, Ecuador is bordered by Columbia to the north and Peru to the south (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). Ecuador (which is Spanish for equator) actually overlaps the equator (Ecuador 2001) The geographic coordinates of Ecuador are 2-00 S, 77-30 W (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). According to the factbook, Ecuador is about the size of Nevada. The total land boundaries for Ecuador are 2,010 km (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
Ecuador boasts a tropical climate along the coasts but the weather is cooler inland
(The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). The terrain of the country includes the inter-Andean central highlands, the coastal plains and flat to rolling eastern jungle (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). The lowest point is the Pacific Ocean and the highest elevation can be found at Chimborazo (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). Ecuador has been impacted by several kinds of natural disasters including droughts landslides, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. In fact the Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the entire world (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
Meggers (1966) refers to the country as "transitional." The author explains that describing the nation as transitional
"implies the existence within its boundaries of strongly contrasting environments. It is, in fact, one of the most heterogeneous zones of the hemisphere, in which almost all combinations of climate and elevation can be encountered. In general terms, three major segments can be recognized: an eastern and a western lowland separated by the Andean mountain wall. The facts that the Andes are narrower and the coastal plain wider here than elsewhere on the continent, together with an equatorial location, give Ecuador a unique combination of environmental characteristics that certainly contributed as much as its geographical location to the role it has played in New World prehistory (Meggers 1966).
Although the country boasts beautiful landscapes, Ecuador also faces a plethora of environmental problems including soil erosion, deforestation, desertification, and water pollution (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). In addition, the pollution created from the production of oil has adversely effect the Galapagos Islands and Amazon Basin (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
Natural resources in Ecuador include hydropower, petroleum, timber, coffee, cocoa and fish (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). All of these resources with the exception of hydropower are exported to other countries in the region and the world.
Political and legal Systems
The past political systems in Ecuador have been both military governments and republican governments (Ecuador, 2000). The current Political system is a republic. Citizens must be 18 years old to vote (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). The Republic of Ecuador consists of 22 provinces including Chimborazo, Bolivar, Azuay, Carchi, Cotopaxi, El Oro, Galapagos, Guayas, Imbabura, Orellana, Loja, Los Rios, Esmeraldas, Napo, Pastaza, Pichincha, Sucumbios, Tungurahua, Zamora-Chinchipe, Canar, and Manabi, Morona-Santiago (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). The current constitution was created in 1998 (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
The current political parties include; the Democratic Left, Concentration of Popular Forces, the Pachakutik Movement, the Social Christian Party, Patriotic Society Party, the Popular Democracy, the Popular Democratic Movement, the Radical Alfarista Front, the Roldosist Party, the National Action Institutional Renewal Party, and the Socialist Party (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005) .
The executive branch consists of President Lucio Gutierrez (Patriotic Society Party), who is also head of government and chief of state (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). The executive branch also includes the Vice President Alfredo Palacio and the cabinet, which is appointed by the president (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). Presidents and Vice presidents are elected to four-year terms by popular vote (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
The legislative branch consists of the unicameral National congress. The congress consists of 100 members, elected by province to four-year terms (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). It is common for members of the congress to defect which cause fluctuations in the political party that holds the majority of seats at any given time (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
The judicial branch of government in Ecuador consists of the Supreme Court (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). Supreme Court justices are usually elected by the full court (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). However, in 2004 the congress elected an entirely new court through a majority vote (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
Although the current political environment is a stable democracy, Ecuador has seen its share of political turmoil. According to an article found in the magazine Americas, political turmoil erupted in the country "with the occupation of Ecuador's National Congress building by indigenous protesters, who had the backing of members of the military. By the end of the day, a military-led junta had forced Mahuad out of office. In a matter of hours, however, a constitutional government was restored, headed by former vice president Noboa (Democracy Prevails in Ecuador, 2000)."
The current legal system is dependent upon civil law (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). In the past, the country depended on a legal system referred to as mimitaes (Meggers 1966).
Currently nearly, 65% of the citizens of Ecuador are mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white). Another 25%, are Amerindian 7% are Spanish and 3% are black (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). The official language of Ecuador is Spanish (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). The citizens of Ecuador also speak various Amerindian languages (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005). In addition, 95% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic (The World Factbook, Ecuador 2005).
According to an article found in Geograpical magazine,
"Many indigenous groups maintain their distinct cultural identity. The Shuar are the largest single group and were the last to remain isolated until the discovery of oil in the 1970s. The Indians are pressing for Ecuador to be recognised as a plurinational state, where different communities are seen as distinct nationalities. The result is a strong and largely unified Indian movement which is at the forefront of social protests. Many Amazonian communities are successfully campaigning for their land rights to be recognised in the face of oil exploration and colonization (Ecuador 2001).
A book entitled Culture and Customs of Ecuador asserts that the mix of cultures that are found in Ecuador make it a vibrant country (Handelsman and Standish, 2000). The authors explain that Ecuador is a microcosm of Latin America (Handelsman and Standish, 2000). The authors also insists that inside the borders of Ecuador,
'one encounters the African sounds of the marimba and the bongo drums in the northwest coastal province of Esmeraldas, the Andean flute that evokes Incan times, the Spanish guitar that symbolizes almost 500 years of Hispanic influence, herbal…