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GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR

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.

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.

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.

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.




September 2009

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