Ecuador - Transportation

The topography and climate of Ecuador have greatly hindered the development of adequate means of land transportation. In 2002 there were 43,197 km (26,843 mi) of highways, including 8,165 km (5,037 mi) of asphalted roads. The Pan American Highway (1,076 km/669 mi in Ecuador) extends the length of the highlands from Tulcán on the Colombian border to Loja in the south and on to Peru. In 1970, the five-nation Bolivarian Highway was undertaken, as were east-west routes linking the Oriente with the Sierra, and Guayaquil with its hinterland. The most important lateral route connecting the highlands and the coast runs from Latacunga, crossing a pass in the Cordillera Real over 3,650 m (12,000 ft) high, to Quevedo in the lowlands. In 2000, there were 205,513 passenger cars and 179,593 commercial vehicles.

Modern port facilities to serve Guayaquil were opened in 1963 on an estuary 10 km (6 mi) from the Guayas River. The Guayas River basin is important for transportation in the coastal provinces. Other international ports are Esmeraldas, Puerto Bolívar, and Manta; La Libertad and Balao can accommodate oil tankers. In 2002, Ecuador's merchant marine consisted of 33 ships of at least 1,000 GRT, with a total gross registered tonnage of 393,680.

Railways, all government owned, are of decreasing importance because of their poor condition and competition from highways. The three railroad networks total 965 km (600 mi); the most important line runs between Guayaquil and Quito. Floods in 1983 damaged much of the system, and by 1986 service had been restored on only some of the sections. The railway system has been largely inoperative for the last decade, following damage by a major earthquake.

Ecuador's rugged topography has hastened the growth of air travel. There were some 205 airports and airfields in 2001, 61 of which had paved runways; those of Guayaquil (Simon Bolivar) and Quito (Mariscal Sucre) are international. In 2001, total scheduled airline traffic amounted to 14 million million freight ton-km (8.7 million freight ton mi), and 1,251,100 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights. The government-run Ecuatoriana de Aviación provides service between Ecuador and the rest of Latin America.

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