Guayaquil gwīäkēl´ [key], city (1990 pop. 1,508,444), capital of Guayas prov., W Ecuador, on the Guayas River near its mouth on the Gulf of Guayaquil, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. The chief port and largest city of Ecuador and one of the best ports along Latin America's Pacific coast, Guayaquil has industries manufacturing textiles, leather goods, cement, alcohol, soap, and iron products. Through its modern harbor are shipped cacao, coffee, and bananas, the principal exports of Ecuador. Between 1970 and 1990 the city's population nearly doubled. Guayaquil was founded by the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Benalcázar in 1535. It was often subjected to attacks by buccaneers in the 17th cent. and in the 18th and 19th cent. was destroyed repeatedly by fires. The occupation of the city in 1821 by patriot forces under Antonio José de Sucre was the first major step in Ecuador's final liberation from Spain. The fateful meeting between Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín that was to influence the course of independence in South America took place in Guayaquil in 1822. Because of its hot and humid climate the city was frequently scourged by yellow fever until the sanitation work of the U.S. surgeon-general William C. Gorgas. Guayaquil has several colonial landmarks, including the church of Santo Domingo (16th cent.). It is the seat of three universities and a polytechnic institute.

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