Guayaquil

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Guayaquil

With an unofficial population of three million,  Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city. It is a bustling commercial city with plenty of restaurants, fine hotels and shopping. Guayaquil handles 90% of Ecuador’s imports and 50% of its exports through its seaport. With its location on the west bank of the Río Guayas, even the largest ocean vessels conduct trade here. The Guayas River is considered one of the cleanest deep-water ports in this part of the world. The boardwalk, Malecón 2000 was given a major facelift and attracts many tourists with its parks, malls, restaurants, museums and markets. There is also a new airport terminal (very nice) and a new transit system, the Metrovía.

Weather

From January to April, the rainy season brings lots of heat, humidity and mosquitoes. But from May to December the climate is pleasant with little to no rain and cool nights.

History

Guayaquil was inhabited long before the Spanish arrived. The Valdivia people flourished in this areas around 2000 BC. After them came the Huancavilcas from which Guayaquil gets its name. Legend says that the Huancavilca chieftain, Guayas, killed his wife Quil and then he drowned himself before the Spaniards could capture them. The next 400 years were relatively quiet with only fires and  British, French and Dutch pirates with which to contend. As most building were built of wood, there isn’t much left for us to see today from this time period. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Guayaquil developed into into the prosperous city we see today. New roads, bridges, hospitals and schools were built funded by the export of cacao, fruit and wood. (However, even most of these building were destroyed in  1942 by an earthquake.)

Guayaquil became the first city in Ecuador to declare its independence from Spain on October 9, 1820. General Sucre began his famous military campaign from this city until the culmination of liberation in Quito on May 24, 1822. Simón Bolívar, liberator of the south, and José de San Martín, liberator of the north, met in Guayaquil as their separate campaigns against Spain ended in independence for most of South America. Guayaquil quickly grew following independence. Ecuador’s first bank was founded here in 1859. After that came a public university and library. In 1896, however, 70% of the city was destroyed by a fire in just 36 hours. Guayaquil quickly rebuilt and continued to grow. During the banana boom that began in the late 1940s, new port facilities were funded and completed in 1963 by the huge increase in commerce.

Contrasts

There has always been a rivalry between the coastal people (La Costa) and the mountain people (La Sierra). It is even more prominent between the people of Quito and Guayquil. They are different in personality, outlooks and even appearance. Guayaquleños claim that they make Ecuador’s money and the Queteños spend it.