1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Guayaquil

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

GUAYAQUIL, or Santiago de Guayaquil, a city and port of Ecuador, capital of the province of Guayas, on the right bank of the Guayas river, 33 m. above its entrance into the Gulf of Guayaquil, in 2° 12′ S., 79° 51′ W. Pop. (1890) 44,772; (1897, estimate) 51,000, mostly half-breeds. The city is built on a comparatively level pajonal or savanna, extending southward from the base of three low hills, called Los Cerros de la Cruz, between the river and the partially filled waters of the Estero Salado. It is about 30 ft. above sea-level, and the lower parts of the town are partially flooded in the rainy season. The old town is the upper or northern part, and is inhabited by the poorer classes, its streets being badly paved, crooked, undrained, dirty and pestilential. The great fire of 1896 destroyed a large part of the old town, and some of its insanitary conditions were improved in rebuilding. The new town, or southern part, is the business and residential quarter of the better classes, but the buildings are chiefly of wood and the streets are provided with surface drainage only. Among the public buildings are the governor’s and bishop’s palaces, town-hall, cathedral and 9 churches, national college, episcopal seminary and schools of law and medicine, theatre, two hospitals, custom-house, and several asylums and charitable institutions. Guayaquil is also the seat of a university corporation with faculties of law and medicine. A peculiarity of Guayaquil is that the upper floors in the business streets project over the walks, forming covered arcades. The year is divided into a wet and dry season, the former from January to June, when the hot days are followed by nights of drenching rain. The mean annual temperature is about 82° to 83° F.; malarial and bilious fevers are common, the latter being known as “Guayaquil fever,” and epidemics of yellow fever are frequent. The dry or summer season is considered pleasant and healthy. The water-supply is now brought in through iron mains from the Cordilleras 53 m. distant. The mains pass under the Guayas river and discharge into a large distributing reservoir on one of the hills N. of the city. The city is provided with tramway and telephone services, the streets are lighted with gas and electricity, and telegraph communication with the outside world is maintained by means of the West Coast cable, which lands at the small port of Santa Elena, on the Pacific coast, about 65 m. W. of Guayaquil. Railway connexion with Quito (290 m.) was established in June 1908. There is also steamboat connexion with the producing districts of the province on the Guayas river and its tributaries, on which boats run regularly as far up as Bodegas (80 m.) in the dry season, and for a distance of 40 m. on the Daule. For smaller boats there are about 200 m. of navigation on this system of rivers. The exports of the province are almost wholly transported on these rivers, and are shipped either at Guayaquil, or at Puna, its deep-water port, 61/2 m. outside the Guayas bar, on the E. end of Puna Island. The Guayas river is navigable up to Guayaquil for steamers drawing 22 ft. of water; larger vessels anchor at Puna, 40 m. from Guayaquil, where cargoes and passengers are transferred to lighters and tenders. There is a quay on the river front, but the depth alongside does not exceed 18 ft. The principal exports are cacao, rubber, coffee, tobacco, hides, cotton, Panama hats, cinchona bark and ivory nuts, the value of all exports for the year 1905 being 14,148,877 sucres, in a total of 18,565,668 sucres for the whole republic. In 1908 the exports were: cacao, about 64,000,000 ℔, valued at $6,400,000; hides, valued at $135,000; rubber, valued at $235,000; coffee, valued at $273,000; and vegetable ivory, valued at $102,000. There are some small industries in the city, including a shipyard, saw-mills, foundry, sugar refineries, cotton and woollen mills, brewery, and manufactures of soap, cigars, chocolate, ice, soda-water and liqueurs.

Santiago de Guayaquil was founded on St James’s day, the 25th of July 1535, by Sebastian de Benalcazar, but was twice abandoned before its permanent settlement in 1537 by Francesco de Orellana. It was captured and sacked several times in the 17th and 18th centuries by pirates and freebooters—by Jacob Clark in 1624, by French pirates in 1686, by English freebooters under Edward David in 1687, by William Dampier in 1707 and by Clapperton in 1709. Defensive works were erected in 1730, and in 1763, when the town was made a governor’s residence, a castle and other fortifications were constructed. Owing to the flimsy construction of its buildings Guayaquil has been repeatedly burned, the greater fires occurring in 1707, 1764, 1865, 1896 and 1899. The city was made the see of a bishopric in 1837.