Being a Spanish colony since 1532, Ecuador became independent in 1822 as part of the federation of Gran Colombia. It seceded in 1830.
Following his election in July 1996, Congress deposed President Bucaram on 6 Feb. 1997 on the grounds of mental incompetence and elected the Speaker, Fabian Alarcon as President.
Territory and Population
Ecuador lies in South America and is bound on the north by Colombia, on the east and south by Peru, and on the west by the Pacific ocean. The frontier with Peru has long been a source of dispute. The latest delimitation of it was in the treaty of Rio, 29 January 1942, when, after being invaded by Peru, Ecuador lost over half her Amazonian territories. Ecuador unilaterally denounced this treaty in Sept. 1961. Fighting between Peru and Ecuador began again in Jan. 1981 over this border issue but a ceasefire was agreed in early Feb. following a confrontation of soldiers in Aug. 1991 the foreign ministers of both countries signed a pact creating a security zone, and took their cases to the UN in Oct. 1991. Armed clashes with Peruvian forces broke out again in Jan. 1995. On 26 Jan. further armed clashes broke out with Peruvian forces in the undermarcated mutual border area ('Condor Cortillera). On Feb. 2 talkes were held under, the auspices of the guarantor nations of the 1942 protocol of Rio de Janeiro (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the USA) but fighting continued. Ceasefires were agreed on 17 Feb., which was broken, and on 28 Feb. On 25 July 1995 an agreement between Ecuador and Peru established a demilitarized zone along their joint frontier. The frontier was reopened on 4 Sept. 1995. On 23 Feb. 1996 Ecuador and Peru signed 3 further agreements to regulate the dispute.
No definite figure of the area of the country can yet be given, as this part of the frontier has not been delimited (2, 289 sq. km). One estimate of the area of Ecuador is 275,830.0 sq. km, excluding the litigation zone between Peru and Ecuador, which is 190, 807 sq. km, but including the Galapagos Archipelago (8,010 sq. km), situated in the pacific ocean about 960 km west of Ecuador and comprising 13 islands and 19 islets. These were discovered in 1535 by Fray Tomas de Berlanga and had a population of 10,207 in 1996. They are a national park, and had about 80,000 visitors in 1995.
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