The Port of Guayaquil lies on the banks of the Guayas River 72 kilometers from the Gulf of Guayaquil on Ecuador's Pacific coast. It is the country's main port and largest city. It is also the capital of the Guayas province. Population growth followed industrial development, feeding a rivalry with Ecuador's capital city, Quito, and bring rural works to the city in such great numbers as to create large areas of slums.
Home to the country's manufacturing and fishing industries, the Port of Guayaquil handles almost all of Ecuador's imports and half of its exports. The Port of Guayaquil is the country's economic center. It contains a wide range of industries, including sawmills, machine shops, foundries, tanneries, and sugar refineries as well as several manufacturers of consumer goods. An important new industry, shrimp farming, is growing there. In 2001, almost three million people lived in Guayaquil, and the population of the metropolitan area was about 4.5 million.
Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, the site of modern Port of Guayaquil was a native village. In the 1530s, Sebastian de Belacazar founded a settlement at the mouth of the Babahoyo River, but it was destroyed twice by indigenous tribes. Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana founded today's city, calling it Santiago de Guayaquil after the local chief Guaya and his wife Quila. In 1600, about two thousand people lived in the village.
The colonial city was attacked many times by pirates. In 1687, French and English pirates looted the city, taking local women as concubines and killing 75 city defenders. A ransom was paid for the return of the hostages and the promise not to burn the Port of Guayaquil. By 1700, more than ten thousand people lived there.
In 1820, civilians and soldiers conducted an almost-bloodless rebellion, arresting Spanish officials and declaring independence from Spain in what came to be a pivotal point in the Ecuadorian War of Independence. In 1822, freedom fighters Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin held a conference in the Port of Guayaquil to discuss their plans for South American independence from Spain, after which Bolivar emerged as the movement's leader. In 1829 and again in 1860, the Port of Guayaquil was invaded by the Peruvian army. In 1896, large parts of the city were destroyed by a terrible fire.
The modern Port of Guayaquil, while maintaining its commercial and trade traditions, is working to become a center for tourism. Although it has few historic sites, the city has worked hard to beautify its squares and parks, and it is headquarters for many international events and fairs.
The Port of Guayaquil has a large informal trade base, with many small businesses that employ thousand of Guayaquilenos. Despite this, the city still has a high rate of unemployment (11%), and underemployment is rampant.
The Port of Guayaquil is Ecuador's major trade center. It is the country's largest and busiest seaport, and it has an international airport and a strong highway infrastructure linking it to inland cities.
Guayaquil's climate is hot and humid. Rainfall is heavy between January and April, and flooding is common. From May to December, the city is dry but foggy. With so much fog during the dry season, there are actually more sunny days during the rainy season.
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