Ecuador: In Focus
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Ecuador: In Focus. History and Politics. Power in Ecuador has changed hands many times. First ruled by the Incas. Incan ruler Huayna -Capac died; kingdom split between 2 sons. Atahualpa ruled North, Huascar ruled South. Atahualpa invaded South, killing his brother and reunited the kingdom.

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History and politics
History and Politics

Power in Ecuador has changed hands many times.

First ruled by the Incas.

Incan ruler Huayna-Capac died; kingdom split between 2 sons.

Atahualpa ruled North, Huascar ruled South.

Atahualpa invaded South, killing his brother and reunited the kingdom.

History and politics1
History and Politics

Kingdom was weakened.

Spanish conquistador Pizarro invaded and killed Atahualpa.

Conquest complete: Dec. 6, 1534. Kingdom named the Royal District of Quito.

Years of native resistance; Jose de Sucro defeated the Spanish and natives were freed from their rule.

Ecuador was then named the Audencia de Quito.

History and politics2
History and Politics

This federation fell apart in 1830.

Juan Jose Flores founded “Ecuador”, so named because of its location on the equator.

Although Ecuador was thought to have some measure of peace after this turbulent history, their border disputes with Peru continue until this day.

People and society
People and Society

Shuar Woman

People: Indigenous tribes, Europeans, and descendants of African slaves.

Descendants of Indians and Spaniard are mestizos, or chagras (cowboys).

Very poor.

Most impoverished: indigenous and Africans.

Disproportioned wealth tracing back to times of slavery and Spanish rule.

People and society1
People and Society

Overall, very friendly.

Rule by “macho” society.

Alcoholism sometimes rampant, leading to domestic disputes.

Racism is also a problem.

Mestizos and whites look on Indians as second-class citizens.

Virtually no interracial mixing.

People and society2
People and Society

Great difference in quality between state and private hospitals.

Majority of population has no access to adequate healthcare because they do not live in the larger cities.

These people instead turn to a shaman for their treatments.

A shaman’s practice is a mix of science, religion, and politics.

Highly esteemed by their people.

People and society3
People and Society

Education is severely lacking in Ecuador.

Every child is entitled to 9 years of education, but most only complete 6 years.

One of the central problems is that teacher training is often inadequate.

Many children work in the streets, selling wares.

96% of the country is Roman Catholic. Its influence remains a prevalent part of Ecuadorean society.

Economy and environment
Economy and Environment

Greatest export: petroleum.

Since 1970, transformation from an agricultural economy to an oil economy

The country invested a large sum in the industrial sector that led to great national debt

In 1996, this debt was $16 billion or $1400 pp

Economy and environment1
Economy and Environment

The greatest problem: structural imbalance.

Ecuador earns foreign currency from natural resources

Industrial aspect of the economy is virtually nonexistent.

Prediction: supply of natural resources will be depleted in 20 years

Economy and environment2
Economy and Environment

Major exporter of bananas, cut flowers, cocoa, coffee, and shrimp

world’s only exporter of “vegetable ivory” called tagua, which is a brown nut

200 pounds of nuts will produce as many products as one elephant tusk valued at $10,000

Economy and environment3
Economy and Environment

Use of natural resources=exploitation of the natural environment

Pesticide poisoning, deforestation, and pollution are great causes for concern

Oil leaks are also a huge problem: one pipe leaked a total of 30 times over the course of 20 years.

Economy and environment4
Economy and Environment

Tourism in Ecuador has increased in recent years, providing hope

Tourists offer a great addition to Ecuadoreans’ income

For this reason, many are very welcoming and hospitable to strangers


Festivals are the high points of the year and a mixture of Roman Catholic and Indian traditions

One person is chosen each year to be the prioste, who is the sponsor and organizer of the festival.

Many of the festivals coincide with Christian holidays

Ex: “pase del niño” ( Christmas) and “hoyfanesca” (Good Friday)


The center piece of each festival is the roast guinea pig

A tiny bone from the ear is placed in a glass with a strong drink. Whoever swallows the bone in one gulp is allowed to make a wish.

Music is an integral part of the festivals: traditional Indian music and modern Spanish-European music

Inti raymi 2008
IntiRaymi, 2008


The two most important sports played are soccer and volleyball

Graffiti is an expressive part of Ecuadorean culture

Ecuador graffiti is poetic and inspiring, such as

“No esmasfacildescribir lo que no esamor.”

Tips for travellers
Tips for Travellers

Crime is prevalent in big cities and tourist sites

Other hazards include unhygienic restaurants and “some of the world’s worst drivers”.

Health issues include malaria, yellow fever, hepatitis, and altitude sickness

“It is advisable not to buy any illegal drugs in Ecuador, since penalties are harsh and prisons far from comfortable.”

Ecuador in focus
Ecuador: In Focus

Despite its turbulent history and high crime rate, Ecuador is a place of great beauty.

It is claimed that you can canoe in the Amazon rainforest in the morning, cross the Andes in the afternoon, and swim in the tropical Pacific Ocean in the evening.