President: Rafael Correa
Rafael Correa won the presidential elections in November 2006 - promising a social revolution to benefit the poor - and was re-elected in 2009 and again in February 2013.
When he originally took up his post in January 2007 he joined Latin America's club of left-leaning leaders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, who have been highly critical of the US and led a South American nationalisation drive.
Following the 2013 poll he promised to press ahead with laws to control the media and redistribute land to the poor, apparently deepening his socialist revolution after a resounding re-election victory.
When he was first elected Mr Correa, an outsider with no political party backing, moved quickly to win voters' approval for a special assembly to rewrite the constitution in a referendum.
He said the new basic law would hand more power to the poor and reduce the role of the traditional parties, whom he blames for the country's problems. Critics said it was solely aimed at increasing his powers.
Despite resistance from the opposition-led Congress, the revised constitution was approved by 64% of voters in a referendum in September 2008.
The new basic law also allowed Mr Correa to stand for re-election, enabling him to win a second term with a convincing victory in April 2009 polls and a third term in 2013.
In a further referendum in May 2011, voters approved further reforms proposed by Mr Correa, including giving the president more power over judicial appointments, regulating the media - and a ban on bullfighting.
On coming to power, Mr Correa froze talks on a free trade pact with the US, saying it would hurt Ecuador's farmers, and refused to extend the US military's use of an air base on the Pacific coast for drug surveillance flights.
In 2010, Mr Correa had tear gas fired at him and was trapped inside a hospital for more than 12 hours by protesting policemen before being freed by army forces.
He said the unrest, sparked by anger at a law scrapping police bonuses, was a coup attempt and declared a state of emergency, but his government later promised to change parts of the bill.
He has been highly critical of Ecuador's media, which he accuses of trying to undermine his reform programme. His opponents in turn accuse him of seeking to silence criticism.
Rafael Correa obtained his doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois in 2001 and was a professor at Quito's San Francisco University.
He was appointed economy minister in April 2005 but was forced to resign after four months when he failed to consult the president before publicly lambasting the World Bank for denying Ecuador a loan.