Quito, officially San Francisco de Quito, is the capital of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains. With a population of approximately 1,397,698 in the decadal national census of November 25, 2001, and, as estimated by the municipality, approximately 1,504,991 in 2005, Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil. It is also the seat of the Metropolitan District of Quito, the official name of the canton Quito is located, home to 1,842,201 residents in 2001, and the capital of the Pichincha province. Quito is also to be the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations from 2008.
The elevation of the city's central square (Plaza de La Independencia or Plaza Grande) is 2,850 m (about 9,350 ft), making Quito the second highest capital city in the world. There is some confusion about this claim because La Paz, Bolivia, which is higher, is the governmental capital of Bolivia (where the Bolivian government functions). However, Sucre, which is lower, is the legal capital of Bolivia.
Quito is located about 25 km (15 miles) south of the equator. A monument and museum marking the general location of the equator is known locally as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the world), to avoid confusion, as the word ecuador is Spanish for equator.
The Spanish promptly established the Catholic religion in Quito, with the first church (El Belén) built even before the city had been officially founded. In January 1535, the San Francisco Convent was constructed, the first of about 20 churches and convents built during the colonial period. The Spanish actively evangelized the indigenous people and used them as slave labor for construction, especially in the early colonial years. The Diocese of Quito was established in 1545 and was elevated to the Archdiocese of Quito in 1849. In 1809, after nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Quito was a city of about 10,000 inhabitants. On August 10, 1809, a movement was started in Quito that aimed for political independence from Spain. On that date, a plan for government was established that placed Juan Pío Montúfar as president with various other prominent figures in other positions of government. However, this initial movement was ultimately defeated on August 2, 1810, when Spanish forces came from Lima, Peru, and killed the leaders of the uprising along with about 200 inhabitants of the city. A chain of conflicts concluded on May 24, 1822, when Antonio José de Sucre, under the command of Simón Bolívar, led troops into the Battle of Pichincha. Their victory marked the independence of Quito and the surrounding areas.
In 1882, insurgents arose against the regime of dictator Ignacio de Veintemilla. However, this did not end the violence that was occurring throughout the country. On July 9, 1883, the liberal commander Eloy Alfaro participated in the Battle of Guayaquil, and later, after more conflict, became the president of Ecuador on September 4, 1895. Upon completing his second term in 1911, he moved to Europe. When he returned to Ecuador in 1912 and attempted a return to power, he was arrested on January 28, 1912; thrown in prison; and assassinated by a mob that had stormed the prison. His body was dragged through the streets of Quito to a city park, where it was burned.
In 1932, the Four Days' War broke out. This was a civil war that followed the election of Neptalí Bonifaz and the subsequent realization that he carried a Peruvian passport. Workers at a major textile factory went on strike in 1934, and similar unrest continues to the present day. On February 12, 1949, a realistic broadcast of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds led to citywide panic and the deaths of more than twenty people who died in fires set by mobs.
In recent years, Quito has been the focal point of large demonstrations that led to the ousting of presidents Abdalá Bucaram (February 5, 1997), Jamil Mahuad (January 21, 2000), and Lucio Gutiérrez (April 20, 2005).
Quito is located in the northern highlands of Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin. The city has been built on a long plateau lying on the east flanks of the Pichincha volcano. Quito is flanked by snow-capped volcanoes that can be visible from the city on a clear day. Some of the volcanoes on the Central Cordillera (Royal Cordillera), east of Quito, surrounding the Guayllabamba valley are Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Antisana, and Cayambe. Some of the volcanoes of the Western Cordillera, to the west of the Guayllabamba valley, are Illiniza, Atacazo, Pichincha, and Pululahua (which has the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve).
Activity in other nearby volcanoes also can affect the city. In November 2002, after an eruption in the volcano Reventador, the city was showered with a layer of fine ash particles to a depth of several centimeters.
List of mayors since 1970:
These are the 19 electoral parishes of the city:
Some of the most important avenues in Quito are:
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (IATA airport code: UIO) serves as the city's principal airport for passenger travel and freight. Its runway is 3120 metres long and is capable of handling many large aircrafts. The main terminal is located on Avenue Amazonas. The airport is located 10 kilometres north of the city's centre, within driving distance to the main business center. Because of tall buildings and fog at night, landing from the south is not as easy as at many other airports. Its domestic flights go to Guayaquil, Cuenca, Lago Agrio, Coca, Tarapoa, Esmeraldas, Manta, Portoviejo, Macas, Tulcán, and many others. Flights to the Galápagos Islands are reached via Guayaquil. Several international airlines have offices in Quito; most of them are around Avenue Amazonas. The airport provides international connections to Madrid, Amsterdam, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Lima, Santiago, Panama City, San José, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and many others. The construction of a new airport in the rural parish of Tababela, in the adjacent valley outside the city limits, began in 2006 and will be finished by 2010. The Mariscal Sucre International Airport will then become a big park.
The MetrobusQ network, also known as "Red Integrada de Transporte Público", is the bus rapid transit system running in Quito, and it goes through the city from south to north. It's divided into three sections—the green line (the central trolleybus), the red line (the north-east Ecovía), and the blue line (the north-west Corredor Central). In addition to the bus rapid transit system, there are many buses running in the city. The buses have both a name and a number, and they have a fixed route. Taxi cabs are all yellow, and they have meters that show the fare. There are nearly 8,800 registered taxicabs. Although public transportation is the primary form of travel in the city, including fleets of taxis that constantly cruise the roadways, the use of private vehicles has increased substantially during the past decade. This has happened despite the fact that vehicles are twice as expensive as in the U.S., due to import tariffs and taxes. Because of growing road congestion in many areas, there are plans to replace the Trole with a light railway system, with construction expected to begin in 2009.
Despite the 1917 earthquake, Quito has the largest, best-preserved, and least-altered historic centre (320 hectares) in Latin America. It was the first UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the historic centre of Krakow, Poland. In the 1930s, the wealthy upper classes moved to the northern end of Quito. Because the poorer lower classes, who were left inhabiting the centre, did not have the money to alter or destroy the centre, its aesthetic integrity has been preserved. For many years, the old downtown was a forgotten place and was considered highly dangerous. But since the 1980s, the historic centre has been designated a World Heritage site and has gone through significant gentrification, restoration, and conservation.
Of particular interest in the historic centre are the churches and convents, of which there are more than 40. The most famous, most important, and most visited churches in the centre are:
El Panecillo is a hill located in the middle west of the city at an altitude of about 9,895 ft (3,016 m) above sea level. A monument to the Virgin Mary is located on top of El Panecillo and is visible from most of the city of Quito. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a 134.5 ft (41 m)–tall aluminum monument of a madonna, which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo. Made of approximately 7,000 pieces of aluminum, the monument was inaugurated on March 28, 1976, by the 11th archbishop of Quito, Pablo Cardinal Muñoz Vega.
The figure stands on top of a globe, stepping on a snake (classic madonna iconography). What is not so traditional, however, is her wings. The monument was inspired by the famous "Virgen de Quito" (Quito's Madonna), also known as "the dancer" sculpted by Bernardo de Legarda in 1734, which now decorates the main altar at the Church of St. Francisco. This madonna represents a turning point of the Quito School of Art (one of the most renowned of the Americas) because it shows a figure with great movement (practically dancing), which is in contrast to the traditional static madonnas produced during the 18th century.
La Carolina is a 165.5-acre (670,000 m²) park in the centre of the Quito main business area, bordered by the avenues Río Amazonas, de los Shyris, Naciones Unidas, Eloy Alfaro, and de la República. This park started from the expropriation of the farm La Carolina in 1939. The modern design of the park was made by the Dirección Metropolitana de Planificación Territorial (DMPT). Pope John Paul II headed a great mass in the park during his visit to Ecuador in 1985. A giant cross has been built in this place.
Quiteños gather at La Carolina mostly on weekends to play soccer, basketball, and ecua-volley (an Ecuadorian variation of volleyball with less emphasis on spiking, which allows more of a throw and allows using the feet, much like soccer). Some of the other activities are aerobics, kite flying, running, snacking, and people watching. The southern part of the park has a small pond where paddle boats can be rented and a skatepark for bicyclists and skateboarders. Artists are known to perform on weekends at the park. In the western part of the park, visitors will find the Quito Exhibition Center with different exhibits every month, the Quito botanical gardens , and a Vivarium.
The Aerial tramway Station at Cruz Loma (part of the Pichincha mountain complex at about . Since July 2005, Quito has had an aerial tramway, known as the " Telefériqo", from the city centre to the hill known as Cruz Loma on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. The ride takes visitors to an altitude of about 13,400 ft (more than 4,100 m) where they find a number of restaurants, coffee shops, and a variety of stores. There are also trails for hiking and areas where pictures can be taken of Quito. Because of the increased altitude and the wind on the mountain, it is considerably cooler.
Besides the aerial tramway to Cruz Loma, the Telefériqo as a whole is a visitor centre that includes an amusement park (Vulqano Park), fine-dining restaurants, Go Karts, Paint Ball, shopping malls, an extensive food court, and other attractions.
Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, located a few miles northwest from La Mitad del Mundo, contains the Pululahua volcano, whose caldera (crater)is visible from a spot easily accessible by car. It is believed to be one of only a few in the world with human inhabitants.
Quito Zoo , located near the rural parish of Guayllabamba, about 12 mi (20 km) outside Quito, has the biggest collection of native fauna in Ecuador, including several kinds of animals that are sometimes targeted in Ecuador in the illegal fur trade.
Some of the other nearby natural attractions are:
|Escuela Politecnica Javeriana del Ecuador||29/11/1995|
|Escuela Politecnica Nacional||27/08/1869|
|Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencia Sociales||16/12/1974|
|Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales||20/06/1972|
|Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador||04/11/1946|
|Universidad Alfredo Perez Guerro||15/01/2001|
|Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar||27/01/1992|
|Universidad Autonoma de Quito||07/07/1999|
|Universidad Central del Ecuador||18/03/1826|
|Universidad Cristiana Latinoamericana||31/03/2000|
|Universidad de Especialidade Turisticas||31/03/2000|
|Universidad de las Americas||29/11/1995|
|Universidad de los Hemisferios||20/05/2004|
|Universidad Iberoamericana del Ecuador||30/12/2005|
|Universidad Intercultural de las Nacionalidades y Puebloes Indigenas Amawtay Wasi||05/08/2004|
|Universidad Internacional del Ecuador||30/08/1996|
|Universidad Og Mandino||17/11/2005|
|Universidad Particular Internacional SEK||30/06/1993|
|Universidad San Francisco de Quito||25/10/1995|
|Universidad Tecnologica America||20/08/1997|
|Universidad Tecnologica Equinoccial||18/02/1986|
|Universidad Tecnologica Israel||16/11/1999|