Meaning of ECUADOR, FLAG OF in English

national flag that is horizontally striped yellow-blue-red; when flown by the government, it incorporates a central coat of arms. The flag's width-to-length ratio is 1 to 2. In their revolt against Spanish rule, Ecuadorian patriots in the city of Guayaquil on October 9, 1820, displayed a flag of five equal horizontal stripes of light blue and white, with three white stars in the centre. The colours and stripes took their inspiration from the Argentine flags carried by Jos de San Martn and his Army of the Andes. Victorious against the Spanish at the Battle of Pichincha on May 24, 1822, General Antonio Jos de Sucre hoisted the horizontal yellow-blue-red tricolour that Francisco de Miranda had flown in 1806 in Venezuela. These two flag traditions from other former Spanish colonies influenced the flags of Ecuador throughout the 19th century. At first a white flag with a white star on a blue canton was adopted on June 2, 1822; it was replaced on March 6, 1845, by a flag of white-blue-white vertical stripes and three white stars. Later that year the number of stars was increased to seven. Under Gabriel Garca Moreno, on September 26, 1860, the country changed to the unequal yellow-blue-red stripes being used by neighbouring Colombia. That decision was ratified on January 10, 1861, and reconfirmed on December 5, 1900. The coat of arms of Ecuador appears on the flag when used abroad or for official purposes, in order to distinguish it from the flag of Colombia. The design includes a condor on an oval shield with snowcapped mountains, a river, a steamship, and a sun. A wreath, draped flags, and a fasces complete the design. Whitney Smith History Pre-Spanish era The area presently known as Ecuador had a long history before the arrival of Europeans. Pottery figures have been discovered that date from 3000 to 2500 BC. The area was to some extent a frontier, exhibiting Colombian, Peruvian, and even Mexican influences. Even possible contacts with Japan have been suggested, but these are much debated. The territory, however, was also a distinct cultural area, inhabited by a variety of linguistic groups, including the highland Cara. By AD 1400 Ecuador was divided into several warring states. In the early 15th century the Cara nation led by the Shyri dynasty began to expand in the northern and central Sierra. At approximately the same time both the larger Chimu nation of northern coastal Peru and the growing Inca state centred in Cuzco began to exert influence and pressure. The Inca conquest of Ecuador was begun by Topa Inca Yupanqui (ruled 147193) and extended by his successor, Huayna Capac (ruled 14931525), who lived much of his later life in Tomebamba, Ecuador. Although their cultural impact was otherwise spotty, the Inca spread the use of Quechua as a lingua franca and ordered large forced migrations where resistance to their conquest was especially strong. In Ecuador it is evident that Inca rule was resented by some and supported strongly by others. Huayna Capac left the Inca empire divided between his legitimate heir Huascar, in Cuzco, and his son by an Ecuadoran Cara princess, Atahuallpa. This led to a territorial dispute, and Atahuallpa won the ensuing civil war after a major battle near Riobamba in 1532; at just about the same time, a Spanish expedition led by Francisco Pizarro appeared off the coast. Atahuallpa was executed the next year as the Spanish conquest spread. In many parts of Ecuador Inca rule was less than 50 years old, and many of the pre-Inca states still held people's allegiances. As a result the Spanish under Pizarro's lieutenant Sebastian de Belalczar were welcomed as liberators by some when they invaded Ecuador from Peru in 1534, while stiff resistance was encountered from others, especially the local leader, Rumiahui, who was captured by the Spanish and executed in Quito. The colonial period In the mountainous Andean area of central Ecuador (the Sierra), the Spaniards established a colony of large estates worked by Indian peons. People lived in semiautonomous Indian villages or in Spanish and mestizo administrative and religious centres such as Quito, Ambato, and Cuenca. The making of rough textiles in primitive sweatshops was the only industry. On the Pacific coastal plain (the tropical Costa), there were fewer Indians to do the work, and the area was extremely unhealthy until the advent of modern medicine. As a result, the coast was neglected during the colonial period, although there was some shipbuilding and exporting of cocoa from the port of Guayaquil. The small coastal population of mixed races, with plenty of vacant land and less coercion of labour, developed a very different culture from that of the Sierra. On the eastern slopes between the Andes and the headwaters of the Amazon (the Oriente), recalcitrant Indians and the equatorial climate prevented settlement, and the only Spaniards who attempted to live there in any numbers were missionaries. Later, this demographic vacuum was to cause Ecuador many problems. The country's fourth major subdivision, the Galpagos Islands, were little more than pirate nests during the colonial period; but they were to achieve world fame in the 19th century because it was there that Charles Darwin made a major portion of the observations that led to his theories on evolution and the Origin of Species. The people of Quito, the Ecuadoran capital, claim that it was the scene of the first Ecuadoran patriot uprising against Spanish rule (1809). Invading from Colombia in 1822, the armies of Simn Bolvar and Antonio Jos de Sucre came to the aid of Ecuadoran rebels, and on May 24 Sucre won the decisive Battle of Pichincha on a mountain slope near Quito, thus assuring Ecuadoran independence. The economy Ecuador is a country of enormous economic potential. Development has focused on agricultural, marine, and mineral resources, with industry playing a more limited role. The subsequent production of primary goods has been subject to cycles of boom and bust, however, and Ecuador has sought to diversify its resource exports and to seek new markets. The country has made improved standards of living, but it is still characterized by marked inequalities of wealth and well-being. Resources Ecuador's major resource is its soil, which, with its generally adequate rainfall and diverse climates, allows a wide variety of agricultural production. Particularly rich soils are found in the Guayas and other river floodplains on the coast and in the flats, floodplains, and volcanic slopes of the highlands. The full mineral potential of Ecuador is still being discovered. There are gold deposits throughout the country and oil deposits in the northeastern Oriente. Explorations have discovered significant deposits of natural gas in the Gulf of Guayaquil, large deposits of low-grade copper ore west of Cuenca, and deposits of silver, molybdenum, iron ore, gypsum, zinc, and lead at various locations. Forest and marine resources are also exploited. Traditional coastal dwelling construction is based on the native bamboo, and in the highlands pine and eucalyptus plantations provide fuel and construction material. A small-scale fishing industry operates mainly out of ports on the western coasts of Guayas and Manab provincias. The major marine product, however, is shrimp, produced in large ponds constructed in coastal mangrove swamps. A growing problem has been the excessive destruction of these mangroves and the subsequent threat to shrimp production caused by an inadequate supply of shrimp larvae and juvenile shrimp, which are either captured in the swamps or bred by hatcheries. The Andes Mountains present vast possibilities for hydroelectric development. The construction of larger hydroelectric plants, particularly the Agoyan and Paute projects, has notably improved hydroelectric potential, albeit with serious problems of siltation. A government agency is responsible for the development of power resources. The land Relief The Andes Mountains divide the country into three main physical regions: the Costa (coastal region), the Sierra (highland region), and the Oriente (eastern region, also called the Amazon region). The Costa is composed of lowlands that extend eastward from the Pacific Ocean to the western edge of the Andes and rise from sea level to an altitude of 1,650 feet (500 metres). Running north-south, small coastal mountain rangesthe Colonche, Chindul, and Mache mountainsrise to 2,600 feet. Between these coastal ranges and the Andes, interior valleys are mantled with silt deposits left by rivers that largely drain into the Gulf of Guayaquil. Pun, in the gulf, is the major island. The western and central ranges of the Andes bordering the Sierra constitute the country's highest and most continuous mountain chains. Many peaks are volcanic or snow-covered; these include Cayambe, 18,996 feet (5,790 metres); Antisana, 18,714 feet (5,704 metres); Cotopaxithe world's highest active volcano19,347 feet (5,897 metres); Chimborazo, 20,702 feet (6,310 metres); Altar, 17,451 feet (5,319 metres); and Sangay, 17,158 feet (5,230 metres). The two ranges are connected at intervals by transversal mountain chains of volcanic origin. Between the transverse mountains are large, isolated valleys or basins, called hoyas, which are named for the main river running through them. The Oriente begins with the eastern spur of the central range, which extends to the border with Peru. This region is crossed by the easternand least importantcordillera of the Andes, also composed of three sections: the Cordillera de Galeras, which includes the northern mountains and such peaks as Reventador (11,434 feet) and Sumaco (12,759 feet); the Cordillera de Cutuc, which borders the Upano valley and includes the central peaks; and the Cordillera del Cndor to the south, which borders the Zamora valley. Beyond this eastern cordillera, to the east, is the Amazon basin, extending below 900 feet. The people Ethnic and linguistic composition The ethnic groups of Ecuador include a number of Indian-language-speaking populations, blacks, mestizos, whites, and immigrants from a variety of foreign countries, including Lebanon, China, Korea, Japan, Italy, and Germany. Most modern censuses have not inquired about ethnicity, language, religion, or origin, so that the numbers of different groups are not precisely known. The main population components are highland and lowland mestizos. There may have been about 700,000 Indian-language speakers as of the mid-1980s, primarily Quechua (Quichua) speakers in the Sierra. The highland Quechua speakers, many of whom are bilingual in Spanish, have only recently come to identify themselves ethnically with regions beyond their local villages; they often refer to themselves as Runa (people). They are concentrated in several distinct districts: to the north of Quito, in the vicinity of Otavalo and Cayambe; in the central highlands, from the vicinity of Latacunga to beyond the southern border of Chimborazo provincia and including the distinctive Salasacas Indians who live south of Ambato; in scattered areas around Cuenca in the south-central highlands; and to the north of Loja, where the Saraguro Indians live. In the southeastern lowlands is the large group of the Shuar and Achuar Indians, related to similar groups across the border in Peru; the lowland Quechua speakers (made up of several groups) occupy much of the central Amazon lowlands, along with the Huaorani (Auca), who live in a protected reserve. In the northern Oriente are the small groups of Cofn and Siona-Secoya. The Costa, from north to south, includes small Indian groups: the Awa (Kwaiker), Cayapa (Chachi), and Colorados (Tschila). The blacks of Ecuador are the descendants of slaves imported from Africa; they consist mainly of the coastal blacks of Esmeraldas provincia to the northeast and the highland blacks of the Chota River valley in the northern highlands. Both groups have distinctive cultures and are well-defined as ethnic groups. Highland mestizos include numerous rural folk who occupy areas of the highlands adjacent to the Indian highland groups, as well as town and city dwellers. Mestizos of the central highlands are perhaps closest to being typical highland Ecuadorans, with little tendency to identify themselves as a distinct ethnic group or regional culture, except in the case of those living in the larger cities. Mestizos from the far southern highlands, called Lojanos, are more distinctive in lifeways and have been especially active in colonizing the Oriente and the Costa. Lowland mestizos of the Costa sharply differ from highlanders in diet, dialect, music, and identity. Spanish is the language of business and government, although there are dialectal differences between Sierra and Costa Spanish, and Sierra Spanish has been influenced by Quechua. Most Indian males are bilingual. Several Indian languages will likely persist as mother tongues, and the concepts of bilingualism and bilingual or bicultural education are becoming increasingly important. Religion Ecuador is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. The Roman Catholic church plays a significant role in education and social services and influences the selection of significant places for festivals and pilgrimage sites, such as Quinche in the north and Biblin in the south. Protestantism continues to grow rapidly, particularly among the disadvantaged, with the largest groups being non-Pentecostal Evangelicals and Pentecostals. There is also a sizable Mormon congregation. Quito, Ambato, and Guayaquil have been urban centres of Protestant activity, and many of the Indians of the Sierra and Oriente have also converted. In Sierra provincias such as Carchi, Azuay, and Loja and in Manab provincia in the Costa, there has been more reluctance to accept Protestant conversion. A small Jewish population is concentrated in Quito, and there are also some Baha'i adherents.

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