What kind of country is it and what is life like in Ecuador?

It's time to visit the Republic of Ecuador in South America. The Republic of Equator gets its name from the fact that the Equator cuts through the middle of the country. This geographical feature accounts for the constant day and nighttime hours there throughout the year.

What kind of country is it and what is life like in Ecuador?
Ecuador's highest peak, Chimborazo, stands at an impressive 6,263 meters (20,548 feet) above sea level. Photo by César Viteri / Unsplash

Let's check out the Republic of Ecuador in South America. The name "Republic of Equator" comes from the fact that the country is split in half by the Equator. Because of this, the time of sunrise and sunset does not change there throughout the year. The sun comes up at 6 a.m. and goes down at 6 p.m. Every day and night is 12 hours long, no matter if it's winter or summer.

Geography of Ecuador

The land that is now Ecuador has changed hands many times, and its size has grown and shrunk due to wars and peace agreements with its neighbors. Ecuador was a part of the Inca Empire until the Spanish "found" it in 1533. On the other hand, Independence Day from Spain has been celebrated since May 24, 1822.

People often say that the Liberal Revolution at the end of the 19th century was the start of modern Ecuador. The Revolution weakened the Catholic Church's power to keep people in line. This meant taking land from the church and starting several infrastructure projects. It also told that divorce and other religions could be legalized.

In the second half of the 20th century, the country's politics were just as unstable, with a series of military dictatorships. However, in the last few decades, the country has had a democratic government that is not very stable. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the government often declared a state of emergency, mainly to fight crime.

There have been casualties in the fight for national political institutions in the second most elevated capital city. In the case of Ecuador, sadly, this is true.

The capital, Quito, is 2,850 meters above sea level. The only place higher is the capital of Bolivia. There is also an active volcano near Quito. In 1998 and 1999, when the Pichincha volcano erupted, it sent ash tens of centimeters thick into the city.

Just over 17 million people are living in Ecuador. Up to three million Ecuadorians are thought to live in other countries. After oil production and exports, the money that Ecuadoreans who work abroad send back home is the second biggest source of income for the country.

Ecuador has plenty to offer for mountain lovers.
Ecuador has plenty to offer for mountain lovers. Photo by Fernando Tapia / Unsplash

Ecuador's economy

Ecuador's economic problems have been going on for a long time and were sometimes unavoidable. Dependence on a few raw materials for exports, social and political inequality, a weak monetary system, and ineffective and often inconsistent fiscal policy are the main reasons why many countries' sectors of the economy are unstable.

At the turn of the century, Ecuador's problems were so bad that the country started using the US dollar as its currency. Ecuador is always borrowing money to keep the country's finances stable, and China holds more than three-quarters of the country's bilateral debt. Multilateral debt, like what a country owes to the International Monetary Fund, is a different thing altogether.

Foreign investors are hesitant to put money into the Ecuadorian economy because of the country's political and economic instability and, in particular, its poor understanding of the rule of law. Each president fights to stay in power and stay popular. This includes populist economic reforms that are very controversial.

Beautiful colonial architecture in the republic of Ecuador.
Beautiful colonial architecture in the republic of Ecuador. Photo by Adrien Delforge / Unsplash

Two examples

President Rafael Correa, during his decade-long rule until 2017, managed to be both a socialist president who increased state support for social programs and public spending, and later, because of already falling oil prices and public revenues, also embarked on an austerity policy. Although he managed to slightly increase the country's economic growth and reduce inequality, this did not solve the deep problems in Ecuador.

The next President, Lenin Moreno, who was in charge until 2021, kept up the neoliberal economic reforms by cutting government spending, opening up foreign trade and mining permits in protected natural areas, and easing laws that protected workers on the job. His government also helped get oil out of the Amazon rainforest in the Oriente, which is in Ecuador.

So, when he left office, Lenin Moreno had the lowest trust rating in the history of Ecuador. Only 9% of the people thought he was good enough to run for office. The previous president, President Correa, was accused of kidnapping his political opponents and found guilty of taking bribes. In Ecuador, the legal system is often used to settle political scores.

Agricultural goods and spices can be seen in the market in Ecuador.
Agricultural goods and spices can be seen in the market in Ecuador. Photo by Andrea Leon / Unsplash

Ecuador's exports and trade

Ecuador is one of the thirty worst places in the world when it comes to inequality. Especially bad is the situation for indigenous people who live in rural areas. About half of what the country exports come from the agricultural sector. The most important of these are bananas, sugar cane, cocoa, coffee, fish, and shrimp.

Another third of the country's exports come from oil, which is worth a total of more than $5 billion every year. Ecuador is the 22nd largest country in the world that sells oil. At the same time, the country is not a member of the OPEC cartel. At least, not right now.

Ecuador, which also has a very diverse environment, was the first country in the world to include a section in its constitution about the rights of nature in 2008. This is not surprising, since Ecuador not only has unique and rare plants and animals on its mainland but also owns the famous Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution.