Country Focus Data: Ecuador
October 01, 1997
by Mindy Dake
In South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator. Quito is the capital.
Demography: Population 11.46 million (July 1996 estimate), 1.96% growth rate; Spanish and Indian languages; Roman Catholic religion.
Geography: greatly varied; western coastal plain, eastern Amazon jungle, Andes mountains.
Government: Republic. President and head of government, Abdala Bucaram, elected in 1996.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture.
Economy: Ecuador implemented reforms in the early 1990s that reduced inflation, led to a balanced budget, modernized the economy somewhat and promoted private sector expansion. Trade liberalization began in 1991, and Ecuador became a full member of the World Trade Organization in January 1996. The country is also a member of the Andean Pact. Agreements with the International Monetary Fund reopened the country to international capital inflow. In 1995, inflation was 22.8% with unemployment of 8.4%, compared with about 60% inflation in 1992. Agriculture accounts for 17.3% of gross domestic product and employs 30.6% of the workforce.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$4,100; growth rate 2.3% (both are 1995 estimates).
Currency: Sucre. Aug. 20, 1997, exchange rate: 4,045 sucre per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$4 billion (f.o.b., 1994); petroleum, bananas, shrimp, cocoa, coffee.
Imports: U.S.$3.7 billion (c.i.f., 1994); transport equipment, consumer goods, machinery.
Major agricultural products: bananas, shrimp, coffee, cocoa, maize, soybeans, rice.
Maize: Production in 1996 was 500,000 tonnes, use 370,000 tonnes. Some 150,000 tonnes was exported, while 140,000 were imported, mostly from the U.S. Domestic demand for yellow maize as an input for feed has increased consistently during the last decade.
Wheat: Ecuador produces little wheat, averaging less than 20,000 tonnes annually. Imports in the past five years averaged about 425,000 tonnes, peaking during the period at 500,000 in 1996. Use averaged about 390,000 tonnes.
Rice: Average five-year production was 450,000 tonnes, while use averaged 354,000. Some 111,000 tonnes annually on average are exported.
Transportation: 43,709 km roads, 12% paved; 965 km railroads, all 1.067-m gauge; major ports are Esmeraldas, Guayaquil, La Libertad, Manta, Puerto Bolivar, San Lorenzo.