Largest city (pop., 2001 prelim.: 1,952,029) and chief port, Ecuador. It is situated on the Guayas River 45 mi (72 km) from the Pacific Ocean. Founded by the Spanish in 1537, it was frequently attacked by buccaneers. In 1822 it was the scene of a historic conference between revolutionary leaders Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, after which Bolívar emerged as sole leader of the South American liberation movement. As the focus of Ecuador's international trade and domestic commerce, it has become a major Pacific port. It is the site of three universities.