click here for a full listing of the geography
and statistics for the region.
of the Region
Prior to the European discovery of this area, many native tribes and cultures existed here without much trade among themselves, due to the fact that they were self-sufficient and only traded for luxuries. The Incan empire dominated the Area of Peru and Ecuador, having vast agricultural resources, not to mention large stockpiles of gold and silver. The Spanish were attracted to the area by such wealth, and quickly established colonies there in order to ship the precious material back to Europe. The area was also found to have good growing soil and the Spanish established plantations which shipped agricultural products such as sugar, tobacco, and coffee back to Spain. The areas of Bolivia and Peru were also centers of mineral mining and trade, the main components of their economies for centuries.
In the early 1800¡¯s, revolts broke out all over the continent against the rule of Spain, and these regions were quick to follow in declaring their independence. Bolivia is named after one of the most famous revolutionaries, Simon Bolivar, who lead nations to independence all across the continent. However, power struggles and conflicts between the liberals and the conservatives lead to the slow growth of the economies of the nations in this region, and trade was hindered as a result. Agricultural products were still a mainstay of Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, keeping these countries self-sufficient in terms of food, and allowing them to export agricultural products such as coffee to other nations all over the world. Peru and Bolivia maintained their mining production, and were able to further boost their economies by trading with industrializing nations, while somewhat industrializing themselves.
While the region experienced a short era of peace in the early 1900¡¯s, the combination of the Great Depression and the tension between capitalist and communist parties lead to economic and social upheaval in all four nations for decades. By the 1980¡¯s however, stability had once again returned to these nations, and they were able to focus on economic growth. Colombia had developed her oil resources extensively, but with a world drop in prices and export demand, her economy floundered, leading to a dramatic increase in the illegal drug trade, and today it is estimated that Colombia¡¯s illegal drug trade revenue is equal half of her legal exports. Ecuador has industrialized extensively and relies on that trade for much of her growth, but still remains a big agricultural exporter. Peru has also industrialized extensively, yet still relies mostly on her agricultural products for trade revenue, mainly cocoa, which leads to problems with illegal trade in cocaine. Agriculture is also important to the Bolivian economy, and her mineral resources also continue to play an important role in trade along with her industrial products.
In 2003, President Uribe received much praise from many international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, for his new economic endeavors. Despite this, the government suffers from weak domestic and foreign demand, very tight government budgets, and serious internal strife (guerrilla warfare). The new government also faces the problem of high unemployment. One of the other problems is that the major exports, coffee and oil have a very uncertain future ahead.
Internationally, in South America, there have also been some disputes about the maritime boundary dispute with Nicaragua. There was also a similar maritime boundary dispute with Venezuela. Another major political hurdle facing the Colombian government is the illicit drug trafficking and illegal activities that the government has had little success in controlling.
Ecuador¡¯s major trade is with oil. Because its dependency on oil lead to a free-fall in the economy during El Nino. Since then, Ecuador joined the World Trade Organization but has blatantly failed to follow the guidelines and rules thereof. Ecuador has also faced the devaluation of its currency caused economic stagnation. Today, the government is an unstable republic. The IMF donated 100¡¯s of millions of dollars to Ecuador and the newest government faces huge foreign debt. Besides being a go-between for drug trafficking markets, Ecuador has little international problems.
In recent years, strong help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have strongly helped Peru develop a stable economy. Other geographical factors, though, have lead to small down-time in the economy. Besides economic troubles, Peru is facing increased pressure from Bolivia to secede the Atacama corridor.
Future and Beyond
The Andean States is making improvements in their economy, but that does not mean they are free of obstacles. Since the later 1980¡¯s to the 1990¡¯s, the Andean States have progressed in their transition from highly controlled economies to free market economies. Countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia contain many rich natural and energy resources, such as petroleum and natural gas. With diverse resources, the region has room for growth in the future, but domestic obstacles such as widespread production of cocaine and limited infrastructure are barriers to their full potential of progressing. Columbia is recognized as the leading producer of cocaine and recently they are becoming a growing player in heroin production. With prevalent poverty throughout the region, the Andean States share a common goal to reduce poverty. For example, 70% of Ecuador¡¯s population lies below the poverty line, and about 54% of Peru¡¯s population is destitute. The Andean States are also seeking structural changes in their economies to stabilize their economic status, attracting more foreign investment, and expanding varied industries, such as tourism, mining, energy production and agriculture. As they share close ties to the United States, they are making small gains in improving their economies with aid not only from the US, but also the IMF as they provide structural plans for reform.
Did you know?
Columbia is about the size of Texas,
New Mexico, and Arkansas combined.
Columbia is the fourth-largest
country in South America.
Peru elects two vice presidents!
Peru has two official
languages--Spanish and the foremost indigenous language, Quechua.
Peru's two greatest products are
sugar and potatoes.
Equador is about the size of
Equador's natural resources include
petroleum, fish, shrimp, timber, gold, and limestone.
Bolivia is about the size of about
the size of Texas and California combined! That's huge!
Mining is one of Boliva's most