Location in Ecuador
|• Total||11,062.73 km2 (4,271.34 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,225 m (7,300 ft)|
|Population (2010 census)|
|• Density||41/km2 (110/sq mi)|
Loja Province is one of 24 provinces in Ecuador and shares its southern border on the west by El Oro Province, on the north by El Azuay, and on the east by Zamora-Chinchipe. Founded on its present site in 1548 by Captain Alonso de Mercadillo (Spanish) the site had been previously moved and rebuilt from La Toma due to earthquakes. It also is named as Cuxibamba Valley which means from the Quichua as the "Smily valley".
Located in a high Andean valley at an elevation of 7,300 feet (2,225 m) and with a population of 448,966 inhabitants at the 2010 census, Loja is recognized as being a friendly and pleasant city. This was demonstrated when Loja, both the provincial capital and one of the oldest cities in Ecuador, won a community involvement award in 2001 in recognition of the communities ongoing effort to support and to protect the environment.
Surrounded by two rivers the Zamora and Malacatos, Loja has a variety of microclimates. This results in numerous ecological zones due to its unique position. Based between the humid Amazon basin and coastal sechura desert in Peru the environment consists of páramo, cloud forest and jungle landscapes. 86% of the province is covered by hills or mountains.
Its historical buildings and Colonial Architecture make the city of Loja a popular tourist attraction. Famous for the Vírgen del Cisne religious festivals it organizes in September every year, Loja is also famous for its musicians. The city has a number of important music academies including the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica, house of the most influent musicians in Ecuador. The city is commonly referred to as the 'musical capital of Ecuador.' In addition to the academies, there are also two universities; Universidad Tecnica Particular De Loja, Universidad Nacional de Loja with an important law school as well.
Just south of Loja (42 km) is Vilcabamba which is known as the Valley of Longevity. Inhabitants of the community enjoy a long life span due to its ideal climate and local hot springs. Researchers and scientists have regularly visited the town, studying geographical conditions, climate, soil and water. Articles have even appeared in well known periodicals such as Readers Digest and National Geographic Magazine providing their own theories to the longevity of the Vilcabamba inhabitants. Loja is credited with being the first city in Ecuador to have had electricity. Electric power was supplied to the city by the introduction of a Hydroelectric dam completed in 1896.
A lot of investment has been made recently in the cochinilla farms that provide commodities for both the textile and cosmetic industries. La Toma historically has provided for many sugar plantations, and where commodities such as sugar, coffee are not often grown to be exported internationally like cochinilla, but instead brought and sold nationally.
Loja has also seen its fair share of mining predominately gold which has consequently caused damage to the environment.
Government and politics
The Loja Provinces much like other divisions in Ecuador is divided into three main institutions.
- Municipio, who is elected by population every four years and is headed by the Mayor who currently is Jorge Bailón.
- Prefectura, which is the government at a local level and is headed by the Prefecto. This institution is responsible for all the 22 cantons and is elected by population every four years.
- Gobernacion, delegates the work from the president which is concentrated at the national level. The candidate is elected by the president himself.
Famous for plants and bird species, butterflies which can often be seen in protected national parks, the most important being Podocarpus. The park is 1,463 square kilometres and has an elevation ranging from 1000 m to 3690 m. The park itself is home for a number of animals like bears and pumas as well as exotic birdlife. Over 40% of the park's 3,000–4,000 plant species are endemic, unique to this area. There is also in excess of 600 species of birds.
|Canton||Pop. (2010)||Area (km²)||Seat/Capital|
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