Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Ecuador, a South American republic, situated, as the name implies, upon the equator, having the United States of Colombia on the N, Peru on the S., Brazil on the E., and the Pacific Ocean on the W. As its limits are disputed, its precise extent is unknown; but it has 400 miles of sea-coast, and has been variously estimated to contain 127,000 and 248,000 square miles. The Andes pass through the territory with two parallel Cordilleras, between which lies a valley, 300 miles long and 40 miles wide, further divided by cross-ridges into three great river basins. This valley is at a height varying from nine to fourteen thousand feet, and of the two parallel mountain ranges the western, though of a lesser average height than the eastern, contains the highest points, Chimborazo attaining a height of nearly 21,000 feet. The conspicuous peak of Cotopaxi is not at present an active volcano, although it has broken out as late as the early part of this century, and Pichincha was active four centuries ago. In all there are twenty volcanic summits. Imbabura has at times emitted much mud and water, but there seems to be some doubt whether these have not. proceeded from the melting of glaciers. Cayambi is on the equator, Antisana is 1,900 feet in height, and Sangai is a restless volcano. The line of perpetual snow is here at 15,700 feet. The rivers on the E. belong to the Amazon system, and those of the W. flow to the Pacific. Those on the E. are, for the most part, torrents which cannot be navigated, and the chief of them are the Napo, Tigre, and Patasca, which flow into the Maranon. On the W. the chief are the Mira, the Esmeraldas, and the Guayaquil, the last of which has at its mouth a harbour formed by the island of Puna, which was the landing-place of Pizarro. Ecuador has every variety of climate from the tierras ealientes in the lowlands to the nevados above the snow-line. Of the three basins or plateaus mentioned above that of Quito is 9,500 feet high, that of Ambato 8,500, and that of Cuenca 7,800. Quito enjoys a perpetual spring, With an abundant gentle rain, which falls at certain constant hours and renders the plateau very fertile, but the other valleys are much less productive. There are some small lakes and hot springs. The minerals of the country are little worked, but there are gold, silver, iron, lead, tin, zinc, and copper, and some good coal, and there are quarries of marble, alabaster, gypsum, and slate. The commerce is not important, but from Guayaquil arc exported cocoa, indiarubber, bark, coffee, hides, and ivory nuts, and there is some manufacture of Panama hats and other plaited articles. Some of the uplands are covered with dense forests, and the llanos of the lowlands are extensive. The animals of Ecuador are for the most part the same as those of the neighbouring countries, the most conspicuous of them being the condor, which inhabits the Andes. More than half of the population are aboriginal Peruvians, who form the bulk of the labouring classes. Next come the negroes, and the mixed blood of mulattoes, mestizoes, and zamboes, and last in numbers, though they are the chief landholders, are the Spanish Creoles. The independent republic of Ecuador dates from 1822, and is administered by a president, elected every four years, with a vice-president and two ministers, a Council, and a Congress consisting of a Senate of 18 and a House of Deputies of 30, both elected by universal suffrage. The four largest towns are Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Loja.