Ecuador 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.
The coastal lowlands are hot, despite the cooling effect of the cold offshore Peru Current. The Andes have spring temperatures throughout the year, while the East lowlands are hot and humid. The rainfall is heaviest in the East lowlands and the North coastal lowlands.
The main ethnic groups of Ecuador include a number of Indian-language-speaking populations (often referred to as indigenous peoples or Amerindians) and highland and lowland Spanish-speaking mestizos (people of mixed Indian and European descent).Most Ecuadorans consider themselves mestizo and tend to identify with their region of birth; the mestizo culture is highly regionalized. In the highlands, residents of Carchi (in the far north) and Azuay and Loja (in the south) have developed especially strong regional identities.
Like many other South American countries, Ecuador has experienced often harsh economic conditions over the last two decades.Although the performance of country's fruit and seafood industries have been generally good, the nation succumbed to a number of problems in the 1990s that caused its economy to falter almost to the point of bankruptcy in 1999.
The official and most widely used language in Ecuador is Spanish. Most people of Indian stock residing in rural areas speak Quechua (see AMERICAN Indian Languages), the original language of the INCA.
The economy of Ecuador is mostly based on its agriculture, mining, forestry and oil products, which have recently started to play a major part in the economy. Manufactures include cement, Panama hats, paper products, processed food and textiles. Major exports are food, live animals, and mineral fuels.
The population of Ecuador is estimated at 14,791,000. It was estimated that 62% of the population lived in urban areas in 2000, up from 47% in 1980. The most populated cities in the country are Quito, Guayaquil, Cuena, Machala and Portviejo.
There are approximately 1,000 religions in Ecuador. In 1998 it was estimated that 90% of the population was Roman Catholic. Protestants, make up 2% of the population and Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and members of the Church of Scientology have small communities.
Ecuador had been caught in cycles of political instability, reflecting popular disillusionment with traditional power structures and weak institutions. Ecuador's political parties have historically been small, loose organizations that depend more on populist, often charismatic, leaders to retain support than on programs or ideology. Frequent internal splits produced great factionalism.
Ecuador has multiple TV networks and many local channels, as well as more than 300 radio stations; many TV and radio stations are privately-owned. The government owns or controls 5 national TV stations and multiple radio stations. Broadcast media is required by law to give the government free air time to broadcast programs produced by the state.
Ecuador is currently the United States' 40th largest goods trading partner with $12.9 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2010. Goods exports totaled $5.4 billion; Goods imports totaled $7.5 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Ecuador was $2.0 billion in 2010.