"Pearl of the Pacific"

The 444 stairs of Santa Ana Hill, Guayaquil
Guayaquil is Ecuador's largest city, its busiest port and its leading economic engine. Although it was, for many years, an afterthought to visitors, travelers have now come to recognize Guayaquil as one of Ecuador's most fascinating, vibrant places. Its unique culture, cosmopolitanism, rapidly developing tourist infrastructure and intriguing attractions have begun to lure in visitors.

The city of Guayaquil was founded on the west bank of the Guayas river in 1538, on the site of an indigenous village. The city grew over the next 150 years, but that growth served to attract French and English pirates, who frequently attacked and looted the city. By the late 19th century, a boom in cocoa and other agricultural goods spurred further development in the city, and in the twentieth century the export of bananas through the city's port made it an economic dynamo. Guayaquil is also the home for many of Ecuador's leading companies.

Its status as a port city has made it impressively cosmopolitan. Traders and businesspeople from around the world visit Guayaquil, with many establishing permanent residence in the city. They have brought with them their customs, languages, cultures and cuisines. They have also created a city that is very welcoming to newcomers.

Though Guayaquil is Ecuador's most economically-active cities, some of its oldest and most distinguished neighborhoods had fallen into disrepair by the 1980s and 1990s. Subsequent mayoral administrations poured millions of dollars into urban renewal projects, aimed at restoring and beautifying several districts of the city. Guayaquil handles some 90 percent of the country's imports and 50 percent of its exports through the modern outport of Puerto Marítimo, 6 miles (10 kilometers) downstream. The main exports are: bananas, coffee, cacao from the Guayas Basin and shrimp.

Guayaquil is the entrance port to the Galapagos Islands. The flights coming from Quito and Cuenca stop here before flying onward to the Galapagos Islands. Tourism is also developing due to a newly refurbished international airport, called José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, which has the newest terminal in Ecuador inaugurated in 2006. This airport is one of two international gateways to Ecuador. 

Another tourist attraction is the historic neighbourhood, Las Peñas, from where you can climb 444 steps to the top of Santa Ana Hill and stand on the site of the city’s birthplace. Guayaquil is very well located in Ecuador, a country with the most biodiversity in the world, and includes an incredible wealth of attractions, from indigenous cultures, tropical forests, a wealth of animal and bird life, and active volcanoes.

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Information taken from Ecuador.Travel