World News

FACTBOX: Some facts about Ecuador

(Reuters) - Ecuadoreans head to the polls on Sunday to vote whether to set up a special assembly that could rewrite the constitution and curb the powers of Congress.

Here are some facts about the South American country’s people, politics and economy:

* Three Ecuadorean presidents have been ousted in the past decade in turmoil reflecting the country’s disillusionment with its traditional political class.

* Ecuador is the world’s No. 1 banana exporter, but oil is its leading shipment overseas. It also exports coffee, cocoa, shrimps and fish products. More than one-third of the work force is employed in agriculture.

* Most of Ecuador’s 13.3 million people live in the Andean highlands and more than half are mixed race and one-quarter are indigenous. While Spanish is the official language, many people speak indigenous Quechua and Jarvo languages.

* Soaring oil revenues are bolstering the economy but seven years ago an economic crisis forced banks to close their doors and the country defaulted on its foreign debt. Ecuador later adopted the U.S. dollar as its official currency. Six out of 10 Ecuadoreans live in poverty.

* Ecuador’s territory includes the Galapagos Islands, where hundreds of unique species live, including sea lions, giant tortoises and exotic birds. The variety of natural life there inspired 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.