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November 19, 2009

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Ecuador and its impact on the world

THE Republic of Ecuador is a country in South America with a democratically elected government. The nation's president is Rafael Correa Delgado.

Ecuador sits directly on the equator and is positioned in the northern, southern and western hemispheres. It's located on the northwestern edge of South America, bordered by Colombia to the north, Peru to the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. The country also includes the Galapagos Island in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometers off the coast.

Ecuador has an area of 256,370 square kilometers and is geographically divided into four regions -- the Amazon, the Highlands, the Coast and the Galapagos Islands -- and is politically split into 22 provinces, which, in turn, are divided into 205 cantons. Quito is the capital city.

The country has a tropical climate along its coastal areas, and then becomes much cooler inland, especially in the higher elevations of the Andes. The jungle-covered plains of the eastern lowlands are hot and very damp throughout the year, with copious amounts of rain.

Latin America's first yell of independence

On August 10, Ecuador celebrated the bicentenary or "Primer Grito de la Independencia del Ecuador." Everything started 200 years ago.

On August 10, 1809, a group of patriots revolted against the Spanish crown, imprisoned the President of the "Royal Audience of Quito" and proclaimed a Civic Junta to govern what is today the territory of Ecuador. The bloodless revolution was massively supported by the local population. This event was the first of many during Spanish colonial rule and triggered a process that freed all of Latin America within 20 years. For this reason, Quito is called the "Light of America."

This year, while commemorating this epic moment of history, Quito glittered more than ever with its natural scenery adorned with flags, banners and lights. The city center, churches, convents, monasteries, plazas and monuments were illuminated at night, giving the city a special "glow."

Yasuni-ITT: Preserving life for today and tomorrow

The Yasuni Biosphere Reserve is located at the intersection of the Amazon and Andes mountains and is known for extraordinary biodiversity and a newly found indigenous group known as the Waorani.

Yasuni was declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1989 due to its rich biodiversity. Within 1 hectare of Yasuni, 644 different species of trees have been identified, more than the whole of North America.

In an attempt to contribute both to the environmental conservation of Mother Earth as well as to seed the basis for social development of underdeveloped countries, Ecuador has taken the initial step to move from an oil-based economy to one based on renewable natural resources and to sustainable management of its biodiversity. It has done so by maintaining the crude oil in the ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) field inside the Yasuni National Park indefinitely underground in order to put environmental values and society ahead of profits.

The project's main goals are: 1. To combat global warming by avoiding the transgression produced by oil extraction in areas that are biologically and culturally sensitive in developing countries; 2. To protect the biodiversity of Ecuadorians, supporting the voluntary isolation of uncontacted indigenous cultures living in the Yasuni National Park; 3. To promote social development, nature conservation and to implement renewable energy sources.

This initiative is being presented in various international forums and has attracted the attention of various OECD (Organization for Ecnomic Cooperation and Development) countries, especially from Germany, which has become the largest verbal supporter of the Yasuni-ITT project. Germany will provide Ecuador with US$650 million over the next 13 years to fund a transition to a low carbon economy, while forgoing development of oil reserves in the ITT concession of Yasuni National Park. Ecuador would still need to raise another US$310 million by 2011 however to make the project a reality. The government believes the total cost of protecting the area permanently would be US$3.6 billion, or roughly half what the state would receive from auctioning off the reserve to drillers. Other European nations have shown interest including Spain and France.

Latitude 0°0'0"

The 18th century was the century of intense geographic study of the planet. A group of French scientists dedicated themselves to the study and measurement of our planet. In 1736, their mission to determine the meridian arc of the Southern Hemisphere brought them to Quito.

At 0°0'0" latitude, on the equatorial line, there is the grandiose quadrangular pyramid of the Equinoctial Monument. Placed with its four monoliths in 1979, the central monolith is decorated with a globe encircled by a silver band representing the equator. The globe is orientated corresponding to the true position of the Earth.

Art and Culture

The art of Ecuador developed between the 16th and 18th centuries, examples of which are on display in various old churches in Quito.

The art of Ecuador, especially paintings, plays an important role in the life of the people. The artists of the Tigua region are famous for their colorful paintings depicting village life high in the mountains. Mostly done on sheep hide, the paintings depict the customs, festivals, myths and dreams of indigenous people.

Ecuadorian music varies little between the coast and highland areas. Panpipes, bamboo flutes, violins, drums and charangos are generally favored for different occasions. The Ecuadorians play music for all events, be it private parties or public events, in old bars or for somber moods.

Ecuadorian cuisine is known for its innumerable potato varieties, the spicy heat of the aji pepper and the soft crackle of roasting guinea pig. The food is solid, healthy, tasty and can be cooked easily in kitchens around the world. Popular dishes are ceviche, llapingachos, locro potato soup and humitas, as well as Incan-style tamales.


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