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The insider's guide to Ecuador's elections

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(CNN) -- Rafael Correa, a leftist nationalist who is friendly with Venezuela's anti-U.S. president, defeated banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa in Ecuador's presidential runoff on Sunday, partial results indicated. Here is our guide to the country and the vote.

Who is Rafael Correa?

He is a U.S.-trained economist who has rattled Wall Street by threatening to reduce foreign debt payments and oppose free trade efforts. He is relatively new to politics, having served just 106 days last year as finance minister under interim President Alfredo Palacio, who replaced Lucio Gutierrez following street protests in April 2005.

What is his election platform?

He promises a "citizens' revolution" to radically reform the country's discredited political system. Ecuadorians have driven the last three elected presidents from power and observers say Correa appeals to voters as a fresh face in a field of established politicians.

Tell us about Ecuador's economy.

Ecuador is the world's number one banana exporter, but oil is its leading shipment overseas. It also exports coffee, cocoa, shrimp and fish products. More than one-third of the work force is employed in agriculture. Soaring oil revenues are bolstering the economy but seven years ago, an economic crisis forced banks to close their doors and the country defaulted on its foreign debt. Ecuador later adopted the U.S. dollar as its official currency. Six out of 10 Ecuadorians live in poverty.

And its people?

Most of Ecuador's 13.3 million people live in the Andean highlands and more than half are mixed race and one-fourth are indigenous. While Spanish is the official language, many people speak indigenous Quechua and Jarvo languages.

What challenges lie ahead for the new president?

The winner will face the tough task of ruling this poor, politically unstable Andean nation which has had eight presidents since 1996. Correa has pledged to construct 100,000 low-cost homes and promises to double to $36 a "poverty bonus" that 1.2 million poor Ecuadorians receive each month.

What would a Correa victory mean for South America?

It would strengthen South America's tilt to the left, with Ecuador joining like-minded governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and several other countries. He has described President Bush as "dimwitted" and has threatened to reduce payments on Ecuador's $16.1 billion foreign debt to free up money for social programs.

Anything else we should know?

Ecuador's territory includes the Galapagos Islands, where hundreds of unique species live, including sea lions, giant tortoises and exotic birds. The variety of natural life there inspired 19th century British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.

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