Latacunga is a plateau town of Ecuador, capital of the Cotopaxi Province, 89 km (55 miles) south of Quito, near the confluence of the Alaques and Cutuchi rivers to form the Patate, the headstream of the Pastaza. At the time of census 2001 Latacunga had 51,689 inhabitants, largely mestizo and indigenous.
Latacunga is an hour and half south from Quito on the Pan-American Highway. It was previously also on the old road from Quito to Guayaquil, and has a railway station between those cities. It is 9,055 ft (2,760 m). above sea level. Its climate is cold and windy, due to the neighboring snowclad heights, and the barren, pumice-covered tableland on which it stands. The active volcano Cotopaxi is only 25 km. away, and the town has suffered repeatedly from eruptions. Founded in 1534, it was four times destroyed by earthquakes between 1698 and 1798. The neighboring ruins of an older native town are said to date from the Incas Empire.
Latacunga's most noted food is chugchucaras, empanadas, plantains, popcorn, and tostado (a type of toasted corn.) Often mixed with ají, a type of condiment that can be mild to very spicy depending on how it's prepared.
The Latacunga economy is dependent on agriculture, and floriculture. It has an international airport that is not used for international passenger use, but as an Air Force base and some special commercial flights. The local volcanic activity has led to the accumulation of pumice deposits which are currently mined, as well as the presence of natural sparkling water, which is bottled under the brand name San Felipe.
The airplane scene in the film Maria Full of Grace was filmed out of the Latacunga airport using local extras. The landscape seen from the plane is the area surrounding Latacunga.