Guayas - Encyclopedia

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GUAYAS, or Er. Guayas, a coast province of Ecuador, bounded N. by Manabi and Pichincha, E. by Los Rios, Canar and Azuay, S. by El Oro and the Gulf of Guayaquil, and W. by the same gulf, the Pacific Ocean and the province of Manabi. Pop. (1893, estimate) 98,100; area, 11,504 sq. m. It is very irregular in form and comprises the low alluvial districts surrounding the Gulf of Guayaquil between the Western Cordilleras and the coast. It includes (since 1885) the Galapagos Islands, lying 600 m. off the coast. The province of Guayas is heavily forested and traversed by numerous rivers, for the most part tributaries of the Guayas river, which enters the gulf from the N. This river system has a drainage area of about 14,000 sq. m. and an aggregate of 200 m. of navigable channels in the rainy season. Its principal tributaries are the Daule and Babahoyo or Chimbo (also called Bodegas), and of the latter the Vinces and Yaguachi. The climate is hot, humid and unhealthy, bilious and malarial fevers being prevalent. The rainfall is abundant and the soil is deep and fertile. Agriculture and the collection of forest products are the chief industries. The staple products are cacao, coffee, sugar-cane, cotton, tobacco and rice. The cultivation of cacao is the principal industry, the exports forming about one-third the world's supply. Stock-raising is also carried on to a limited extent. Among forest products are rubber, cinchona bark, toquilla fibre and ivory nuts. The manufacture of so-called Panama hats from the fibre of the toquilla palm (commonly called jipijapa, after a town in Manabi famous for this industry) is a long-established domestic industry among the natives of this and other coast provinces, the humidity of the climate greatly facilitating the work of plaiting the delicate straws, which would be broken in a dry atmosphere. Guayas is the chief industrial and commercial province of the republic, about nineteen-twentieths of the commerce of Ecuador passing through the port of its capital, Guayaquil. There are no land transport routes in the province except the Quito & Guayaquil railway, which traverses its eastern half. The sluggish river channels which intersect the greater part of its territory afford excellent facilities for transporting produce, and a large number of small boats are regularly engaged in that traffic. There are no large towns in Guayas other than Guayaquil. Duran, on the Guayas river opposite Guayaquil, is the starting point of the Quito railway and contains the shops and offices of that line. The port of Santa Elena on a bay of the same name, about 65 m. W. of Guayaquil, is a landing-point of the West Coast cable, and a port of call for some of the regular steamship lines. Its exports are chiefly Panama hats and salt.

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