In recent years Ecuador's economy has become service-based, although a small percentage of the workforce still engages in agriculture. Rice, potatoes, manioc, and plaintains are grown for subsistence; bananas, coffee, and cacao are the main cash crops. Cattle, sheep, and pigs are raised, and there is fishing and lumbering. Petroleum is the country's largest industry; others include food processing, tourism, and the manufacture of textiles, wood products, and chemicals.
Oil is Ecuador's leading export, followed by bananas, cut flowers, shrimp, fish products, coffee, and cocoa; other exports include forest products (notably balsawood), sugar, and rice. Vehicles, medicines, telecommunications equipment, and electricity are the main imports. The United States, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Brazil are its chief trading partners. During the 1980s and 90s, Ecuador's leaders imposed austerity budgets on the government in an attempt to stimulate economic growth. The country experienced an economic crisis in the late 1990s, but began recovery early in the 21st cent. Ecuador is a member of the Andean Community, an economic organization of South American countries.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.