Ecuador is governed by a democratically elected President, for a four-year term. The current president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, exercises his power from the presidential Palacio de Carondelet in Quito.
Ecuador's economy is the eighth largest in Latin America. Following the financial banking crisis of 1999, the US dollar became legal tender in Ecuador on March 13, 2000 and sucre(former currency) notes ceased being legal tender on September 11. Sucre notes remained exchangeable at Banco Central until March 30, 2001 at 25,000 sucres per dollar. Ecuador is the biggest importer of bananas, also an importer of coffee, sugar cane, cocoa.
Ecuador has a capitalistic, service-based economy with about 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) coming from services, according to the CIA. The petroleum reserves found in the country account for approximately 50 percent of its exports.
Deteriorating economic performance in 1997-98 culminated in a severe financial crisis in 1999. The crisis was precipitated by a number of external shocks, including the El Niño weather phenomenon in 1997, a sharp drop in global oil prices in 1997-98, and international emerging market instability in 1997-98. These factors highlighted the Government of Ecuador's unsustainable economic policy mix of large fiscal deficits and expansionary money policy and resulted in an 7.3% contraction of GDP, annual year-on-year inflation of 52.2%, and a 65% devaluation of the national currency in 1999.
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