Manta is a mid-sized city in Manabí Province, Ecuador. It is the most populated city in the province, the fifth most populated in the country and, economically, the third most important city of Ecuador. Manta has existed since Pre-Columbian times. It was a trading post for the Mantas and the Incans. The city of Manta has grown in the last 50 years to 250,000+ inhabitants. Its main economic activity is tuna fishing. Other economic activities include tourism and a chemical industry with products from cleaning supplies to oils and margarine.
Manta has an international airport, Eloy Alfaro International Airport and an important military base (also known as Manta Air Base or Eloy Alfaro Air Base). Manta possesses the largest seaport in the country.
Since 1999 Manta has been used as a military location for U.S. air forces in conjunction with Ecuador for supporting anti-narcotics military operations and for carrying out surveillance flights in a strategic warfare program against Colombian drug trafficking cartels called Plan Colombia. It also serves as a geographical look out point for the U.S. for any war craft heading north from the Middle East and Asia. A regular stop for U.S. Navy warships, Manta proves to be of importance for its location and for the respite it offers the U.S. military with its beauty and untrampled wilderness.