- Ecuador is around 285,000 square kilometres in area – roughly equivalent to the US state of Nevada, or the United Kingdom combined with Belgium.
- Spanish is the official language of Ecuador, but there are more than twenty other native tongues, including several dialects of Kichwa, the language of the Inca Empire.
- The majority of Ecuador’s 14.5 million people are mestizos (mixed spanish and indigenous blood), a quarter are indigenous people from more than a dozen native groups, seven percent are white, mainly of Spanish extraction, and three percent are black.
- The Spanish first established the boundaries of what roughly now corresponds to Ecuador in 1563. It became an independent republic in 1830, when it was officially named after the equator, which passes through it. Voting is compulsory for any literate person aged between 18 and 65, and optional for other eligible citizens.
- Ecuador’s main exports are petroleum products, bananas, coffee, cacao, cut flowers and shrimp. Despite its large oil reserves and rich farmland, the economy is often severely affected by fluctuations in world commodity prices and around 38 percent of its people live below the poverty line.
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