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Quito

[kee-taw]

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.

History

Pre-Columbian

Quito's origins date back to the first millennium, when the Quitu tribe occupied the area and eventually formed a commercial center. According to Juan de Velasco's 1767 book Historia del Reino de Quito, the Quitu were conquered by the Caras tribe, who founded the Kingdom of Quito about 980 CE. In 1462, the Incas conquered the Kingdom of Quito. In 1533, Rumiñahui, an Inca war general, burned the city to prevent the Spanish from taking it, thereby destroying any traces of the ancient pre-Hispanic city.

Colony

Indigenous resistance to the Spanish invasion continued during 1534, with Diego de Almagro founding Santiago de Quito (in present day Colta, near Riobamba) on August 15 of that same year, later to be renamed San Francisco de Quito on August 28. The city was later moved to its present location and was refounded on December 6, 1534 by 204 settlers led by Sebastián de Benalcázar, who captured Rumiñahui and effectively ended any organized resistance. Rumiñahui was then executed on January 10, 1535. On March 14, 1541, Quito was declared a city and on February 14, 1556, was given the title Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de San Francisco de Quito ("Very Noble and Loyal City of San Francisco of Quito"). In 1563, Quito became the seat of a royal audiencia (administrative district) of Spain and became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru with its capital in Lima (see Real Audiencia de Quito).

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.

Gran Colombia

Just days after the Battle of Pichincha, on May 24, 1822, the leaders of the city proclaimed their independence and allowed the city to be annexed to the Republic of Gran Colombia. Simón Bolívar went to Quito on June 16, 1822, and was present at the signing of the Colombian Constitution on June 24, 1822. When the Gran Colombia dissolved in 1830, Quito became the capital of the newly formed Republic of Ecuador.

Republican Era

In 1833, members of the Society of Free Inhabitants of Quito were assassinated by the government after they conspired against it, and on March 6, 1845, the Marcist Revolution began. Later, in 1875, the country's president, Gabriel García Moreno, was assassinated in Quito. Two years later, in 1877, Archbishop José Ignacio Checa y Barba was killed by poisoning while he was giving mass.

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).

Geography

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).

Nearby volcanoes

Quito's closest volcano is Pichincha, looming over the western side of the city. Quito is also the only capital in the world to be directly menaced by an active volcano. Pichincha volcano has two summits—the closer Rucu Pichincha at 4700 metres above sea level and the higher Guagua Pichincha at 4794 metres. Guagua Pichincha is active and being monitored by volcanologists. The largest eruption occurred in 1660 when more than 10 inches (25 cm) of ash covered the city. There were three minor eruptions in the 1800s. The latest eruption was recorded on August 23, 2006, when a few puffs of smoke and a large amount of ash were deposited on the city. Although not devastating, the eruption caused significant disruption of activities, including closing of the international airport. It is unlikely that any serious activity will occur in the near future, and the topography of the volcano is such that, even if a major eruption were to occur, lava flows would head into the almost-unpopulated areas west of the volcano, sparing Quito, which lies to the east.

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.

Climate

Because of its elevation and its proximity to the equator, Quito has a fairly constant cool climate, Spring-like weather year-round. The average temperature at noon is 19°C (66°F) with a normal night-time low of 10°C (50°F). The annual average temperature is 15°C (64°F). The city experiences only two seasons: dry and wet. The dry season, June through September (4 months), is referred to as summer; the wet season, October through May (8 months), is referred to as winter.

Demographics

Population

, also officially known as Distrito Metropolitano de Quito These are numbers for the city proper only, not the whole canton, which also includes surrounding rural parishes (parish seats and their surroundings), which are separate from the city.

Topographical zones

Quito is divided into three areas, separated by hills:

  1. The center houses the colonial old city.
  2. The southern part is mainly industrial and residential, and a working-class housing area.
  3. The northern part is modern Quito, with high-rise buildings, shopping centers, the financial district, and upper-class residential areas and some working-class housing areas. It is the location of Mariscal Sucre International Airport.

Politics

Governance

Quito is governed by a mayor and a 15-member city council. The mayor is elected to a four-year term and can be re-elected. The position also doubles as Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Quito (the canton).

List of mayors since 1970:

  • Sixto Durán-Ballén (1970–1978)
  • Álvaro Pérez Intriago (1978–1983)
  • Gustavo Herdoiza León (1983–1987)
  • Rodrigo Paz Delgado (1987–1992)
  • Jamil Mahuad (1992–1998)
  • Roque Sevilla (1998–2000)
  • Paco Moncayo (2000–present)

Municipal Parishes

In Ecuador, parishes are the next geographical subdivision below canton. They are classified as either urban or rural. Quito is divided into 32 urban parishes and are the only urban parishes in the Metropolitan District of Quito. The urban parishes of Quito are:

  1. Argelia, La
  2. Belisario Quevedo
  3. Carcelén
  4. Centro Histórico
  5. Chilibulo
  6. Chillogallo
  7. Chimbacalle
  8. Cochapamba
  9. Comité del Pueblo
  10. Condado, El
  11. Concepción, La
  12. Cotocollao
  13. Ecuatoriana, La
  14. Ferroviaria, La
  15. Guamaní
  16. Inca, El
  17. Iñaquito
  18. Itchimbía
  19. Jipijapa
  20. Kennedy
  21. Libertad, La
  22. Magdalena
  23. Mariscal Sucre
  24. Mena, La
  25. Ponceano
  26. Puengasí
  27. Quitumbe
  28. Rumipamba
  29. San Juan
  30. San Bartolo
  31. Solanda
  32. Turubamba

Electoral Parishes

As of the October 2004 political elections, Quito was divided into 19 urban electoral parishes (parroquias electorales urbanas). These parishes are not the same as the municipal parishes, whose boundaries are determined by the municipality of Quito instead of electoral organizations.

These are the 19 electoral parishes of the city:

Transportation

Streets

Because Quito is about 40 km long and 5 km at its widest, most of the important avenues of the city extend from north to south. The two main motorways that go from the northern part of the city to the southern are Avenue Oriental (Corredor Periférico Oriental) on the eastern hills that border the city, and Avenue Occidental on the western side of the city on the Pichincha volcano. The street 10 de Agosto also goes north to south through most of the city, running down the middle of it. Because of the hills and the city's curved shape, a grid pattern is extremely difficult to imply. The historic centre of the city is based on a grid pattern, despite the hills, with the streets Venezuela, Chile, García Moreno, and Guayaquil being the most important.

Some of the most important avenues in Quito are:

  • Avenue Río Amazonas
  • Avenue de la Prensa
  • Avenue 6 de Diciembre
  • Avenue de los Shyris
  • Avenue Naciones Unidas
  • Avenue 10 de Agosto
  • Avenue Diego de Vazques
  • Avenue Eloy Alfaro
  • Avenue de la República
  • Avenue República del Salvador
  • Avenue América
  • Avenue 12 de Octubre
  • Avenue Patria
  • Avenue Francisco de Orellana
  • Avenue General Rumiñahui
  • Avenue Interoceánica
  • Avenue González Suárez
  • Avenue Real Audiencia
  • Avenue Galo Plaza
  • Avenue El Inca
  • Avenue Napo
  • Avenue Vicente Maldonado

Air transport

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.

Ground/urban transport

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.

Points of interest

In recent years, the large numbers of tourists have increased the income of the city. Quito is one of the most important tourist centres of the country. The city itself—located right beside an active volcano, in a valley flanked by mountains—and its spring-like climate combined with the warmth of its people create a very pleasant atmosphere for tourists.

Historic centre

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

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.

Parks

Metropolitano

Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua is the largest urban park in South America at 1,376 acres (5.5 km²) (as reference, New York's Central Park is 843 acres [3.4 km²]). The park is located in northern Quito, on the hillside behind Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa. The park is suited for mountain biking, walking, and running. Most of it is eucalyptus forest with trails, but there also are numerous sculptures on display. The park has four sites that can be used for picnics or barbecues, and the eastern section has a view of Cotopaxi, Antisana, and the Guayllabamba river basin.

La Carolina

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.

El Ejido

El Ejido is the third-largest park of Quito (after Metropolitan and La Carolina), and it divides the old part of the city from the modern one. This park is known for handicrafts available for sale every Saturday and Sunday, with all pricing subject to negotiation (that is, haggling). Local painters sell copies of paintings by Oswaldo Guayasamín , Eduardo Kingman, and Gonzalo Endara Crow. Otavaleños sell traditional sweaters, ponchos, carpets, and jewelry.

La Alameda

The long triangular La Alameda is located at the beginning of street Guayaquil, where the historic centre begins. It has an impressive monument of Simón Bolivar at the apex. There are several other interesting monuments in this park. In the centre of the park is the Quito Observatory, which was opened by President García Moreno in 1864 and is the oldest observatory in Latin America. It is used for both meteorology and astronomy. At the north end of the park are two ornamental lakes, where rowboats can be rented.

TeleferiQo

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.

Outside the city

La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) is a small village administered by the prefecture of the province of Pichincha, 22 mi (35 km) north of Quito. The village features a large monument, built on the site where the equator was thought to have crossed in the early 1980s. There is also a museum that contains a model of Quito, a planetarium, various exhibits, several restaurants, an open arena that is occasionally used for folkloric-dance performances, and a small chapel where couples can marry with one spouse standing in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern [it has since been determined that the actual equator is some 200 meters north of the monument area].

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:

Education

Universities

According to the National Council for Higher Education of Ecuador (CONESUP), here is a list of Schools founded before the year 2006 in the Quito:
University Foundation Date
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
Universitas Equatorialis 24/12/2002

Sports

Professional football teams

Quito is the home city of five prominent football clubs in Ecuador. Games between the clubs are often are important matches in terms of city pride (especially between El Nacional, D. Quito, & LDU Quito).

The teams in Ecuador's First Division (Primera A & Primera B) are:

Sister cities

Quito has nine sister cities:

See also

  • Cuarenta
  • List of Latin American artists
  • References

    External links

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