Ambato, Ecuador

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Ambato
City
San Juan de Ambato
From top, left to right: Panoramic view of the city, Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Elevation, Bolivar street, Atocha-La Liria Historical Botanical Garden, Juan Montalvo monument, City hall of Ambato, Cevallos Park and Victor Hugo avenue.
From top, left to right: Panoramic view of the city, Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Elevation, Bolivar street, Atocha-La Liria Historical Botanical Garden, Juan Montalvo monument, City hall of Ambato, Cevallos Park and Victor Hugo avenue.
Flag of Ambato
Official seal of Ambato
Nickname(s): 
Tierra de las Flores y las Frutas (Land of Flowers and Fruits)
Motto(s): 
Home of Ana A.[citation needed]
Ambato is located in Ecuador
Ambato
Ambato
Location in Ecuador
Coordinates: 1°14′30″S 78°37′11″W / 1.24167°S 78.61972°W / -1.24167; -78.61972Coordinates: 1°14′30″S 78°37′11″W / 1.24167°S 78.61972°W / -1.24167; -78.61972
Country Ecuador
ProvinceTungurahua
CantonAmbato Canton
FoundedDecember 6, 1698
Government
 • AlcaldeJavier Altamirano
Area
 • City46.50 km2 (17.95 sq mi)
 • Metro
1,018.32 km2 (393.18 sq mi)
Elevation
2,577 m (8,455 ft)
Highest elevation
3,900 m (12,800 ft)
Lowest elevation
1,800 m (5,900 ft)
Population
 (2010)[1]
 • City329,856
DemonymsAmbateño,-a
Time zoneUTC-5 (ECT)
Area code(s)(+593) 3
ClimateCfb
Websitewww.ambato.gob.ec (in Spanish)

Ambato (Spanish pronunciation: [amˈbato]; full form, San Juan de Ambato; Quechua: Ampatu Llaqta) is a city located in the central Andean valley of Ecuador.[2] Lying on the banks of the Ambato River, the city also sits beneath several tall mountains. It is the capital of the province of Tungurahua, at an elevation of 2,577 meters above sea level. It is variously nicknamed "City of Flowers and Fruit", "Cradle of the Three Juans", and "Garden of Ecuador." Inhabitants of Ambato are called Ambateños or Guaytambos (after a type of native peach that the valley is famous for producing). The current mayor of Ambato is Javier Altamirano.

The city has been fully or partially destroyed by earthquakes several times in its history, most recently on 5 August 1949, when the city and its cathedral were almost completely leveled. The city was rebuilt in the two years following. In honour of the tenacity of the resident Ambateños, the city celebrates the Festival of Fruits and Flowers during Carnival in February. Today, the Festival of Fruits and Flowers is one of the most important in Ecuador.

The city is referred to as "Cradle of the Three Juans" as it was the birthplace of three notable Ecuadorians: Juan Montalvo, a noted essayist of the 19th century, Juan León Mera, the author of the country's national anthem, and Juan Benigno Vela, a key figure in the Ecuadorean independence movement. The city is well known for its production of fruit, tanneries, food products and textiles.[3] It also serves as a major transportation hub, especially for travelers moving south on the Pan-American Highway.

History

The city of Ambato was founded in its present location on December 6, 1698 as the Seat of Ambato, on the request of Ambateños to the Royal Audience of Quito. For the next century, Ambato grew slowly into an important mountain center. The city was to play a pivotal role in the Ecuadorian War of Independence. On October 9, 1820, the citizens of Guayaquil, along with help from a number of Venezuelans and Colombians, declared independence from the Spanish monarchy. The group raised an army (known as the Junta de Guayaquil), and began to move against Spanish forces in Quito. On their way to Quito, Ambato was one of the first cities to be liberated. The city formally declared its separation from Spain on November 12, 1820.[4]

After liberating Ambato, the Junta de Guayaquil then turned their attention to Quito. Under the command of Colonel Luis Urdaneta, the army had liberated most of the central highland region, but Quito and the northern highland region were still under the authority of the Royal Audience. Field-Marshal Melchor Aymerich, acting President and commander of the Royalist army took swift action and ordered forces to march on the Urdaneta's army stationed in Ambato. Urdaneta's army met the Royalists, led by Colonel Francisco Gonzaelz at the First Battle of Huachi just outside Ambato on 22 November 1820 and were soundly defeated. Urdeneta retreated and Gonzalez entered Ambato.[5]

A year later, the reformed patriots, under Antonio José de Sucre, left their position in Babahoyo to retake the highlands. In September 1821, the forces left the city, marching to reconquer Guaranda. On 12 September 1821, Sucre met the same fate as Urdeneta in the Second Battle of Huachi. Aymerich's forces defeated Sucre in the same plains that now form the neighborhood of Huachi, just southeast of downtown Ambato. Sucre returned to Guayaquil once more.

In 1822, the tide began to turn for Ambato and the rest of the towns in the central mountains. After two attempts to take the highlands, Sucre and the revolutionaries had built an excellent network of spies and a dedicated spirit of liberation. They had also had some luck; in 1821, the Spanish monarch, Fernando VII had sent his own commander, General Mourgeon to lead the royalist defense in Quito. Mourgeon arrived in November only to fall terminally ill in the spring of 1822. At the same time, Sucre was marching his army south to Macará to meet up with Peruvian forces sent by General José de San Martín. From Loja they moved north retaking Riobamba in April. Ambato was retaken soon after and the royalists were soon defeated at the Battle of Pichincha.[6]

During the early years of the Republic of Ecuador the city served as an important cultural and economic center. Several times, Ambato served as the setting for rewriting of constitutions and continued to produce excellent artists and thinkers like Montalvo and Mera.

On 5 August 1949, the city was struck by a devastating earthquake. It is estimated that more than six thousand people died, and thousands more were left homeless and destitute by the disaster. Much of the city's colonial center was completely ruined, including the cathedral that many considered on par with Cuenca's Iglesia de El Sagrario. The city was rebuilt with significant help from international aid organizations and the Ecuadorian government. The new modernist cathedral was inaugurated on 12 December 1954.[7]

Geography

Chimborazo and Carihuairazo seen from the outskirts of Ambato

Ambato lies in the main valley of the Central Cordillera, the highest of the Andean mountain ranges. The city itself is carved into the side of Cerro Casigana, the mountain that dominates the north end of the city. From Ambato, it is possible to see many snow-capped volcanoes including Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Carihuairazo, and the largest mountain in Ecuador, Chimborazo. Tungurahua

lies about 40 kilometers to the southeast. The threat of eruption from the volcano is constant. On May 16, 2006, Tungurahua erupted, covering the city with a thick layer of ash.

The Ambato River cuts through the north end of the city. It is not a very wide or deep river, but can cause significant flooding during periods of heavy rainfall. Throughout the years, the river has cut a deep basin into the land, creating the need for better bridges. In October 2008, the City of Ambato finished the long-awaited Juan Leon Mera bridge, connecting downtown Ambato to the neighborhoods of Ficoa and Atocha. The span of the Ambato River cost the city $5.5 million.[8]

Climate

Ambato features an Oceanic climate (Cfb) under Köppen climate classification.

Climate data for Ambato
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 20.9
(69.6)
21.0
(69.8)
20.6
(69.1)
20.5
(68.9)
20.1
(68.2)
19.1
(66.4)
18.6
(65.5)
19.1
(66.4)
20.1
(68.2)
21.4
(70.5)
22.2
(72.0)
21.4
(70.5)
20.4
(68.8)
Average low °C (°F) 9.3
(48.7)
9.4
(48.9)
9.5
(49.1)
9.6
(49.3)
9.4
(48.9)
8.4
(47.1)
7.8
(46.0)
7.7
(45.9)
8.1
(46.6)
8.6
(47.5)
8.6
(47.5)
8.9
(48.0)
8.8
(47.8)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 35
(1.4)
48
(1.9)
58
(2.3)
63
(2.5)
52
(2.0)
39
(1.5)
26
(1.0)
26
(1.0)
32
(1.3)
50
(2.0)
38
(1.5)
37
(1.5)
504
(19.9)
Source: [9]

Economy

Given its central location, Ambato is an important industrial hub for Ecuador. Vehicle bodywork, especially for large transport vehicles is one of the largest employers in the city. In 2010, it was announced that Venezuela will overhaul the metal frames of almost 65% of their transportations and much of that work is to be done in Ambato.

As a transportation hub, Ambato also depends on small tourist sector. Though not as charming or cosmopolitan as larger cities like Quito or Guayaquil, or as attractive as smaller cities like Baños or Otavalo,[original research?] Ambato's attractions include the modern cathedral and the Mera house. Tourists often use Ambato as a base for visiting nearby towns like Quisapincha or Píllaro. The Monday market also brings tourists and locals alike as the streets fill with food and clothing vendors. Many consider Ambato to be a quintessential 21st-century Ecuadorian city: proud of its history, but eager to emerge as a leader in industry and technology.

The Festival of Fruits and Flowers

The Festival of Fruits and Flowers is held every year in Ambato to commemorate the anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed the city on August 5, 1949, where 6000 people lost their lives. The festival was created on 29 June 1950.[11] Although the earthquake was in August, the festival is celebrated in February to fall closer to Carnival. The rich volcanic soil of the area are home to a large number of farms and a great diversity of agricultural products. Ambatenos refer to the city as the "land of the three Juanes,". Ambateños are commonly referred to as Guaytambos or Patojos - .

Points of interest

Parque Juan Montalvo

In the center of the city is the emblematic Montalvo Park. Named after the Ambato-born writer,