Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro invaded Ecuador, original site of the Inca Empire, in 1532, and gained dominion over it in two years. In 1822, the colonists revolted and Ecuador became a free territory and part of Gran Colombia. Eight years later, this territory became independent from Gran Colombia under the name of Ecuador.
Since its independence, Ecuador has been governed by a mixture of civil and military regimes; however, civil governments have predominated in recent years.
Ecuador exports several products, such as shrimp, tuna, roses, bananas and coconut. Nevertheless, Ecuador bases its economy on oil exportation. The economic growth of the country depends on oil prices in the International Market.
In 1972, Ecuador began to export oil from fields exploited by North American and European companies. Oil production has helped the economy. However, only 10 percent of revenue is used for social investments, such as education or medical care. The majority goes to pay for the country's external debt.
Even though the constitutional presidents are elected for a four-year term, corruption scandals, political negotiations, juridical insecurity, and social unrest have caused disturbance in Ecuador. Although Ecuador marked 30 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period was marred by political instability. In late 2008, voters approved a new constitution (amended in 2011), Ecuador's 20th since gaining independence.
Source: The World Factbook, 2014.
The school year typically runs from September through July in Ecuador's sierra region and from May to February in the coastal region. Even though students are required to attend first through 12th grades, public education is not available for many poor children, especially for those in remote rural areas.
There are various universities in the main cities of Ecuador, including the Catholic University of Quito, the State University of Guayaquil, and the State University of Cuenca. In recent years, more educational centers and universities have been opened in other cities across the country. But only 1 percent of those in rural areas can access the universities and only 5 percent of those in urban areas attend universities.
The constitution guarantees to all citizens and foreigners their right to practice the faith freely chosen by them publicly or privately. Catholicism is practiced extensively throughout Ecuador. The Roman Catholic Church has significant influence in Ecuadorian society, even in political decisions. However, the Ecuadorian government allows missionary activities and public religious expressions held by all the religions.
The government does not permit religious education in the public schools. The private schools have complete freedom to provide any kind of religious education; so do parents at home. There are no restrictions for publishing religious materials in any language.
Source: International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2012 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Holidays and Festivals
Ecuador's art includes sculptures and indigenous handicrafts.
Ecuador is known for a style of music called "Andean Blues," which is melancholic, beautiful, and talks about the hardships of the poor and protests social injustice.
Sports and Games
New Year's Day, Jan. 1
Carnaval, February or March: celebrated two days before Ash Wednesday
Holy Thursday, March or April
Labor Day, May 1
The Battle of Pichincha, May 24: Simon Bolívar's birthday
Independence Day, Aug. 10
Memorial Day, Nov. 2
Christmas, Dec. 25: Processions wind through the streets of Ecuador in the days before Christmas. On the last Sunday of Advent, Ecuadorians deliver gifts to the sick and elderly.
Ecuadorians enjoy soccer, volleyball, tennis and swimming. They also enjoy chess, weight lifting and athletics.
In Ecuador, dishes are generally bland and seasoned only with salt and pepper. Llapingachos are mashed potatoes stuffed with cheese, fritada is fried pork with avocado and corn, and cuy is guinea pig, eaten by the Indians of Ecuador.
- 2 cups of fish, cut into cubes
- 2 small, chopped hot peppers
- 1 peeled and chopped tomato
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
- 1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup tomato juice
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 Tb. of parsley
- 1 Tb. of coriander
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients and let them stand in refrigerator overnight. Serve cold.
Compassion in Ecuador
Even though the principle language in Ecuador is Spanish, Quechua is the native language of Ecuador's indigenous people who live in the highlands, the jungle and some parts of the coast.
- Bienvenidos (Welcome)
- ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
- Chao/ Hasta luego (Goodbye)
- Alli shamushca kapaichi (Welcome)
- Imanalla? (How are you?)
- Kayacama (Goodbye)
Ecuador Facts and Figures
Compassion began its ministry in Ecuador in 1974, when the Child Sponsorship Program was started. In 2002, the Leadership Development Program began, followed by the Child Survival Program in 2003.
Child Sponsorship Program
Children attend the child development centers after school mostly. Those who study in the afternoon attend the center in the morning before school.
Each child receives lunch every day he or she is at the center. A typical lunch consists of soup containing carbohydrates or vegetables and meat, and a main dish containing carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables. Some centers offer snacks to the children before they go home as well, and it is very common for children under age 5 to get additional food.
Generally, our church partners offer soccer, art, music, dance and liturgy as extracurricular activities.
Visit the Compassion blog to learn more about our work in Ecuador, watch a video about life in Ecuador, and to read a post about a day in the life of a sponsored child, through the experience of Jaimito.
15,654,411 (2014 estimate)
Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)
||Christian 95% (Roman Catholic), other 5%
Definition: Age 15 and over can read and write.
|Percentage of population using improved drinking water sources
|Percentage of population using adequate sanitation facilities
||Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands
|Percentage of population urbanized
||67% (2010 estimate)
||Male: 73.94 years
Female: 79.46 years
|Under-5 mortality rate
||23/1,000 (2012 estimate)
|GDP per capita
||$10,600 (2013 estimate)
||U.S. Dollar (USD)
|Number of people living with HIV/AIDS
||52,300 (2012 estimate)
|Percentage of population living below $1.25 a day
||5% (2007-11 study)
Sources for facts: The World Factbook, 2014; The State of the World's Children, 2014