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Ecuador MAP AND DESCRIPTION
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Ecuador officially the Republic of Ecuador (Spanish: República del Ecuador, which literally translates to the "Republic of the Equator") is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland.

The main spoken language in Ecuador is Spanish (94% of the population). Languages of official use in native communities include Quichua, Shuar, and 11 other languages. Ecuador straddles the equator, from which it takes its name,[N 1] and has an area of 275,830 km2 (106,500 sq mi). Its capital city is Quito, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic center in Latin America. The country's largest city is Guayaquil. With its international port and tuna fishing industry, Manta is the third most important city in the country economically. The historic center of Cuenca, the third largest city in the country, was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, for being an outstanding example of a planned inland Spanish style colonial city in the Americas. Ecuador is also home to a great variety of species, many of them endemic, like those of the Galápagos islands. This species diversity makes Ecuador one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. The new constitution of 2008 is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights.

Ecuador is a presidential republic and became independent in 1830, after having been part of the Spanish colonial empire, and for a much shorter time of the republic of Gran Colombia. It is a medium-income country with an HDI score of 0.720 (2011).

History

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, although consolidated under a confederation called the Shyris which exercised organized trading and bartering between the different regions and whose political and military power was under the rule of the Duchicela blood line before the Inca invasion. After years of fiery resistance by the Cañaris 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.

Climate

There is great variety in the climate, largely determined by altitude. It is mild year-round in the mountain valleys; humid subtropical climate in coastal areas and rainforest in lowlands. 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. Both sunrise and sunset occur each day at the two six o'clock hours.

Religion

Approximately 95% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic (see List of Roman Catholic dioceses in Ecuador), and 5% belong to other religious denominations, including 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.

There is a small number of Eastern Orthodox Christians, indigenous religions, Muslims (see Islam in Ecuador), Buddhists and Bahá'í. Ecuador has a number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about 1.4% of the population, or about 185,000 members. In 2010, there were 73,215 Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.

The "Jewish Community of Ecuador" (Comunidad Judía del Ecuador) has its seat in Quito and has approximately 300 members. Nevertheless, this number is declining because young people leave the country towards the United States of America or Israel. The Community has a Jewish Center with a synagogue, a country club and a cemetery. It supports the "Albert Einstein School", where Jewish history, religion and Hebrew classes are offered. Since 2004, there has also been a Chabad house in Quito. There are very small communities in Cuenca and Ambato. The "Comunidad de Culto Israelita" reunites the Jews of Guayaquil. This community works independently from the "Jewish Community of Ecuador". Jewish visitors to Ecuador can also take advantage of Jewish resources as they travel and keep kosher there, even in the Amazon Rainforest. The city has also synagogue of Messianic Judaism.

Culture


Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its Hispanic mestizo majority, and like their ancestry, it is traditionally of Spanish heritage, influenced in different degrees by Amerindian traditions, and in some cases by African elements.The first and most substantial wave of modern immigration to Ecuador consisted of Spanish colonists, following the arrival of Europeans in 1499. A lower number of other Europeans and North Americans migrated to the country in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, and in smaller numbers, Poles, Lithuanians, English, Irish, and Croats during and after the Second World War. Since African slavery was not the workforce of the Spanish colonies in the "Terra Firme" (South America), given the subjugation of the indigenous people through evangelism and encomiendas, the minority population of African descent is mostly found in the northern provinces of Esmeraldas and Imbabura. This is largely owing to the 17th century shipwreck of a slave-trading galleon off the northern coast of Ecuador. The few black African survivors swam to the shore and penetrated the then-thick jungle under the leadership of Anton, the chief of the group, where they remained as free men maintaining their original culture, not influenced by the typical elements found in other provinces of the coast or in the Andean region.

Cuisine

Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with the altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a second course which includes rice and a protein such as meat or fish, and then dessert and coffee to finish. Supper is usually lighter, and sometimes consists only of coffee or herbal tea with bread. In the highland region, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn) or potatoes.

Art

The best known art styles 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: Eduardo Kingman, Oswaldo Guayasamín and Camilo Egas from the Indiginist Movement; Manuel Rendon, Jaime Zapata, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Theo Constanté, León Ricaurte and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement; and Luis Burgos Flor with his abstract, Futuristic style. The indigenous people of Tigua, Ecuador are also world-renowned for their traditional paintings.

Sport

The most popular sport in Ecuador, as in most South American countries, is football (soccer). Its best known professional teams include Barcelona and Emelec from Guayaquil; LDU Quito, Deportivo Quito, and El Nacional from Quito; Olmedo from Riobamba; and Deportivo Cuenca from Cuenca. Currently the most successful football club in Ecuador is LDU Quito, and it is the only Ecuadorian club that have won the Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana and the Recopa Sudamericana; they were also runners-up in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup. The matches of the Ecuadorian national team are the most-watched sporting events in the country. Ecuador qualified for the final rounds of both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. The 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign was considered a huge success for the country and its inhabitants. Ecuador finished in 2nd place on the qualifiers behind Argentina and above the team that would become World Champion, Brazil. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, 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.

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