Ecuador is perhaps one of the smallest countries of the Americas but it still is the most impressive place to visit for the different biodiversity offered in its four well marked regions, Coast or lowlands, Sierra or highlands, Oriente or Amazon Rain Forest and the unique Galapagos Islands.
 
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Guayaquil

Guayaquil, officially Santiago de Guayaquil, is the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador, as well as that nation's main port. The city is the capital of the Ecuadorian province of Guayas and the seat of the namesake canton.

Guayaquil is located on the western bank of the Guayas River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Guayaquil. Because of its location, the city is the center of Ecuador's fishing and manufacturing industries.

City Guayaquil in Sights

Guayaquil offers travelers a surprising number of sights and activities. It boasts museums, historic neighborhoods, sprawling parks and the renovated waterfront strip, Malecón 2000. While enjoying Guayaquil it is important to note that as with any large urban center, you must exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. Be particularly careful at night, spend the extra change to get around safely in taxis.

  • El Malecón 2000 - is the recontruction project of the Simóm Bolívar Pier, one of the most representative sites of Guayaquil city. The new pier which construction has already begun, will be one of the most important civic-touristic-commercial center of South America. It's turning into the most complete and modern center of urban recreation of the country. With multiple green areas of entertainment and commercial service, it's receiving a significant number of visitors everyday.
  • El Palacio Municipal - sits in front of the Malecón and holds the political offices of city and provincial officials. A building of the neoclassical style, it is considered one of the most important architectural works in the country. Employees will enthusiastically answer questions about the building and are a good source of information regarding the city.
  • Las Peñas Neighborhood - in the northeast corner of the city's center, is home to many recognized artists. Many of the area's 400-year-old houses have been converted into art galleries. A walk through this historic district gives one a glimpse into Guayaquil's past.
  • Mall del Sol - find plenty of shopping in this new mall, with most of its store names in English, it will feel eerily familiar to North American travelers.
  • Mercado Artesanal - is the largest artisan market in the city. The market is housed in a 240-shop building that takes up the entire block of Baquerizo Avenue, between the streets Loja and Juan Montalvo. Its many vendors sell indigenous crafts, jewelry, paintings, and more!
  • Parque Centenario - located on the street 9 de Octubre, between Lorenzo de Garaycoa and Quito, this is the largest park downtown, occupying four city blocks. It is a favored place to take refuge from the equatorial sun. Enjoy the shade offered by the large trees planted liberally over the expanses of walkways and lawns. A large statue of Liberty dominates the central area of the park.
  • Parque Seminario - is not your typical city park. Seminario, located on 10 de Agosto Avenue and Chile, is home to dozens of Iguanas, some of which approach 5 feet in length. There seems to be hundreds of the monstrous, yet docile, reptiles lurking all over. Every afternoon, workers bring fruit and vegetable scraps to lure the Iguanas from the trees so that onlookers may watch them descend for a snack! A pond filled with colorful Japanese Talapia fish and the equestrian statue of Simón Bolívar located in the center of the park, are two more reasons to visit the park.

Entertainment

Alternatives, or compliments, to the typical club scene include cinemas, theater performances and quality national and international restaurants. Information on performances and events can be found in the various Guayaquilean newspapers. A few venues and regularly scheduled performances that you should check out:

  • Teatro del Angel - offers live comedies on weekends. It's located on Balsamos 620 and Ficus in the Urdesa neighborhood.
  • Casa de Cultura - on 9 de Octubre just west of the Parque Centenario, regularly sponsors film festivals and gives specialized classes in the arts.
  • Malecón Avenue - The new Pier, which construction has already begun, will be one of the most important civic-tourist-commercial sites from South America. With multiple green areas of entertainment and commercial service, it's receiving a significant number of visitors everyday. All sectors have areas of general services, like restrooms, police departments, first aids and information stands.
  • Urdesa and Alborada neighborhoods - north of the city's center these two neighborhoods are known for being polished and preppy, specifically the street Victor Emilio Estrada in Urdesa and "Calle Principal" in Alborada. Both boast numerous restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars.

(please see our Ecuador's Nightlife section to find out more places to go in Guayaquil) 

History

Guayaquil's waterfront around 1920.

Guayaquil was founded on July 25, 1538 with the name Muy Noble y Muy Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana. Even before it was founded by the Spanish, it already existed as a native village.

In 1600 Guayaquil had a population of about 2,000 people; by 1700 the city had a population of over 10,000.

In 1687, Guayaquil was attacked and looted by English and French pirates under the command of George d'Hout (English) and Picard and Groniet (Frenchmen). Of the more than 260 pirates, 35 died and 46 were wounded; 75 defenders of the city died and more than 100 were wounded. The pirates took local women as concubines. Quito paid the ransom demanded by the pirates with the condition they release the hostages and not burn Guayaquil.
Monument depicting the meeting between Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín.

In 1709, the English captains Woodes Rogers, Etienne Courtney, and William Dampier along with 110 other pirates, looted Guayaquil and demanded ransom; however, they suddenly departed without collecting the ransom after an epidemic of yellow fever broke out.

In October 9, 1820, almost without bloodshed, a group of civilians supported by soldiers from the "Granaderos de Reserva", a battalion quartered in Guayaquil, overwhelmed the resistance of the Royalist guards and arrested the Spanish authorities. Guayaquil declared independence from Spain, becoming Provincia Libre de Guayaquil, and José Joaquín de Olmedo was named Jefe Civil (Civil Chief) of Guayaquil. This would prove to be a key victory for the Ecuadorian War of Independence.

On July 26, 1822, José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar held a famous conference in Guayaquil to plan for the independence of Spanish South America.

The city suffered from a major fire in 1896 which destroyed large portions of the city.

The city has been invaded by the Peruvian Military on two occasions: in 1829 and 1860, the latter of which is referred to as the Battle of Guayaquil.

Guayaquil at present

Guayaquil at present

Present-day Guayaquil continues its tradition of trade, although the city is expanding its tourism base, by beautifying the city and an improvement in the citizens' self-esteem . This process has taken years, comprising the last two municipal administrations. Despite having few historic buildings, renovations and expansions of levees, squares, parks, and some districts have turned Guayaquil into a national and international tourist destination. It is now a headquarters for fairs and international events.

Economy

Guayaquileños main source of income are: formal and informal trade, business, agriculture and aquaculture; trade in the vast majority of the population consists of SMB, adding an important informal economy occupation that gives thousands of guayaquileños employment. Despite this, Guayaquil is the city with the highest rate of underemployment (about 40% of the economically active population) and unemployment (about 11% of the economically active population) of Ecuador.

Guayaquil maintains an infrastructure for import and export of products with international standards. Among its major trading points are the Seaport, the largest in Ecuador and one of the biggest influx of shipping on the shores of the Pacific and José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport. Additionally, it has an infrastructure of roads to other cities and provinces, which are considered the best in the country.

Ongoing projects seek urban regeneration as a principal objective to the growth of the city's commercial districts, as the increase of capital produces income. These projects in the city driven by the recent mayors have achieved this goal after investing large sums of money. The current municipal administration aims to convert Guayaquil into a place for first-class international tourism and business multinationals.

Climate

The climate is hot and generally humid. During El Niño years rainfall is very heavy between January and April and flooding usually occurs. Typically however, rainfall is minimal due to the influence of the Humboldt Current.

Government

Guayaquil's current mayor is Jaime Nebot, a well-known member of the political party Partido Social Cristiano. Jaime Nebot began a campaign of construction projects for the city in the late 1990s to attract tourism, that included the "urban regeneration", which reconstructed the city in all levels including sidewalks, parks, sewer system, it took the power and telephone lines underground, it saw a lot of reconstruction of the city's chaotic transit system with the construction of multiple infrastructures (streets, speedways, overhead passages, tunnels, etc.)

In August 2006, the city's first bus rapid transit system, Metrovia, opened to provide a quicker, high-capacity service. One of the main projects was called Malecón 2000 [maleˈkon doz ˈmil], the renovation of the promenade (malecón) along the Guayas River with the addition of a boardwalk in 2000. Another project was the creation of the Nuevo Parque Histórico, a park in a housing development area that is called Entre Ríos because it lies between the Daule and Babahoyo rivers (which confluence to form the Guayas river), in a mangrove wetland area. The park cost the city about 7 million dollars. It is a refuge for fauna and a zone of historical-architecture preservation, and has a traditions-and-history exhibition centre. The idea of the creation of this park came from Ecuador's central bank in 1982, as part of their "Rescate Arquitectónico"