OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Ecuador
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Republic
AREA: 109,483 square miles (283,560 square kilometers)
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Spanish, Quechua
MONEY: U.S. dollar
Map of Ecuador
Ecuador is located in the western corner at the top of the South American continent. Ecuador, the smallest country in South America, is named after the Equator, the imaginary line around the Earth that splits the country in two. Most of the country is in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ecuador is roughly the size of Colorado and is bordered by Colombia and Peru. The high Andes Mountains form the backbone of the country. Cotopaxi in the Andes is the highest active volcano in the world.
The Galápagos Islands, 596 miles (960 kilometers) west of the mainland of Ecuador are part of Ecuador and are home to unique reptiles, birds, and plants. The Costa, or coastal plain region is where many of the world’s bananas are grown. The Sierra is also made up of farmland. The Oriente is east of the Andes and is rich in oil.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
About 10 percent of the population is of European descent. Another 25 percent belong to indigenous or native cultures and the remainder are of mostly mixed ethnicity. Many of the native people are subsistence farmers and only grow enough food for their family.
Soccer is the national sport.
Ecuador is considered one of the most diverse areas of the world. There are some 25,000 plant species, and over 1,600 known bird species. The search for oil has caused environmental devastation due to oil leaks and destruction of forests.
Ecuador has nine national parks, including the Galápagos Islands. These 18 islands are home to some of the most amazing creatures, including the Galápagos tortoise, Galápagos penguin, blue-footed booby, and iguanas. This is where Charles Darwin noticed the diversity of species and began to study evolution.
Photograph by AP Images, U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
Ecuadorians elect a president to serve a four-year term. Rafael Correa is the current president. The National Assembly has 124 seats and members are elected every four years. Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Congress for indefinite terms.
Ecuador was part of the Inca Empire until the Spanish arrived and claimed the country as a Spanish colony. For three hundred years the Spanish controlled Ecuador. In 1822, Ecuador became independent of Spain.