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Nationality: Noun and adjective--Ecuadorian(s).
Population (2001 est.): 12,090,804.
Annual population growth rate: (-4.59%).
Ethnic groups: Indigenous 25%, mestizo (mixed Indian and Spanish) 55%, Caucasian and others 10%, African 10%.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic, but religious freedom recognized.
Languages: Spanish (official), indigenous languages, especially Quichua, the Ecuadorian dialect of Quechua.
Education: Years compulsory--ages 6-14, but enforcement varies. Attendance (through 6th grade)--76% urban, 33% rural. Literacy--90%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--19/1,000. Life expectancy--70.8 yrs.
Work force (5.6 million): Agriculture--30%; commerce--12%; services--33%; manufacturing--9%; other--16%.
Ecuador's population is ethnically mixed. The largest ethnic groups are indigenous and mestizo (mixed Indian-Caucasian). Although Ecuadorians were heavily concentrated in the mountainous central highland region a few decades ago, today's population is divided about equally between that area and the coastal lowlands. Migration toward cities--particularly larger cities--in all regions has increased the urban population to about 55%. Due to the recent economic crisis, more than 600,000 Ecuadorians emigrated to the U.S. and Europe from 2000 to 2001. The tropical forest region to the east of the mountains remains sparsely populated and contains only about 3% of the population.
Although the Constitution demands that 30% of gross revenue be dedicated to education, the Government’s stated goal is to dedicate 11% of the budget. It is estimated that GDP spending will reach 4% in 2003. UNICEF places adult literacy at 90%, but notes that this rate has been stagnant for more than ten years. UNESCO reports that only 87% of the primary school teachers and 72% of high school teachers have received training. The public education system is tuition-free, and attendance is mandatory from ages 5 to 14. However, the Ministry of Education reports that only 10% of 5 year olds actually have access to daily education and that only 66% of youngsters finish 6 years of schooling. In rural areas, only 10% of the youngsters go on to high school. Ministry statistics give the mean number of years completed as 6.7. Ecuador has 61 universities, many of which now offer graduate degrees, although only 18% of the faculty in public universities possess graduate degrees themselves. Public universities have an open admissions policy, but some departments have recently implemented admissions standards. The new Board of Higher Education (CONESUP) is working to promote the introduction of teacher evaluation and a national accreditation system. There are also more than 300 Higher Institutes, offering 2-3 years of post-secondary vocational or technical training. The Higher Education Reform Act transferred oversight of these poorly regulated institutes from the Ministry of Education to the CONESUP.