Cruising to Ecuador


The "Republic of the Equator" was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Colombia and Venezuela). Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors. A border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999. Although Ecuador marked 25 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period has been marred by political instability. Seven presidents have governed Ecuador since 1996.


Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru
Geographic coordinates: 2 00 S, 77 30 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 283,560 sq km
Land: 276,840 sq km
Water: 6,720 sq km; note: includes Galapagos Islands


2,237 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 100 nm from 2,500 meter isobath


Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands


Coastal plain (costa), inter-Andean central highlands (sierra), and flat to rolling eastern jungle (oriente)

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Chimborazo 6,267 m


Ecuador has substantial petroleum resources, which have accounted for 40% of the country's export earnings and one-third of central government budget revenues in recent years. Consequently, fluctuations in world market prices can have a substantial domestic impact. In the late 1990s, Ecuador suffered its worst economic crisis, with natural disasters and sharp declines in world petroleum prices driving Ecuador's economy into free fall in 1999. Real GDP contracted by more than 6%, with poverty worsening significantly.

The banking system also collapsed, and Ecuador defaulted on its external debt later that year. The currency depreciated by some 70% in 1999, and, on the brink of hyperinflation, the MAHAUD government announced it would dollarize the economy. A coup, however, ousted MAHAUD from office in January 2000, and after a short-lived junta failed to garner military support, Vice President Gustavo NOBOA took over the presidency. In March 2000, Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided the framework for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender.

Dollarization stabilized the economy, and growth returned to its pre-crisis levels in the years that followed. Under the administration of Lucio GUTIERREZ - January 2003 to April 2005 - Ecuador benefited from higher world petroleum prices. However, the government under Alfredo PALACIO has reversed economic reforms that reduced Ecuador's vulnerability to petroleum price swings and financial crises, allowing the central government greater access to oil windfalls and disbursing surplus retirement funds.


Airports: 285 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 85
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 200
Heliports: 1 (2005)
Pipelines: extra heavy crude 578 km; gas 71 km; oil 1,386 km; refined products 1,185 km (2004)
Railways: total: 966 km
Roadways: total: 43,197 km


1,500 km (most inaccessible)

Merchant marine

Total: 30 ships (1000 GRT or over) 181,513 GRT/297,003 DWT
By type: chemical tanker 1, liquefied gas 1, passenger 7, petroleum tanker 20, specialized tanker 1
Foreign-owned: 2 (Germany 1, Paraguay 1)
Registered in other countries: 1 (Georgia 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Esmeraldas, Guayaquil, La Libertad, Manta, Puerto Bolivar

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Argentina - Belize - Brazil - Chile - Colombia - Costa Rica - Ecuador - El Salvador - French Guiana - Guatemala - Guyana - Honduras - Mexico - Nicaragua - Panama - Peru - St. Pierre and Miquelon - Suriname - Uruguay - Venezuela

Further Reading

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