Sept 30 (Reuters) - Unrest erupted in Ecuador on Thursday with soldiers taking the main airport and police protesting in the streets while President Rafael Correa considered whether to dissolve a deadlocked Congress. [ID:nN30130945]
Here are some facts about Correa and Ecuador:
* Correa was born in 1963 to a lower middle-class family in the port city of Guayaquil. He earned an economics degree from the local university before winning scholarships in Belgium and the United States, where he received his doctorate in 2001.
* He was first elected in 2006 promising a "citizens' revolution" to better distribute Ecuador's natural resources and fight what he terms the nation's corrupt elite.
* In 2008, Correa defaulted on billions of dollars of foreign debt he declared illegal. That was applauded by many Ecuadoreans but criticized by investors.
* Correa backed the re-writing of Ecuador's constitution to tilt the balance of power toward the executive, and easily won re-election under the new charter in 2009.
* A former economy minister, Correa has spent billions of dollars on social projects. His government has invested in fixing schools, revamping hospitals and building housing for the needy.
* Correa rarely shies from a fight, whether it be with international bondholders, oil companies or local bankers and media companies that criticize his policies. His pugnacious style has been popular among many Ecuadoreans tired of leaders bowing to foreign and domestic pressures. Others, though, have grown weary of hearing him harangue his opponents.
* In the aftermath of a previous debt default, Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar as its currency in 2000. At the time, the country was gripped by a financial crisis that thrust poverty levels to about 70 percent.
* Taking its name from the equator it straddles, Ecuador is a volcanic country of poor Andean villages, remote Amazon tribes and bustling ports. The outlandish wildlife in its Galapagos Islands inspired Darwin's theory of evolution.
* A little larger in area than Britain, Ecuador is the world's top banana exporter and is rich in copper and gold, but its economy is driven mainly by oil exports and money sent home from immigrants overseas.