Ecuador History

Ecuador History and Politics

History of Ecuador up to the conquest by Pizarro

The first residents

As early as 10,000 BC The area of ​​today’s Ecuador was settled. The first hunters and gatherers came here via Central America. These included the people of the Las Vegas culture (9000 to 6000 BC) on the coast and the Inga culture (9000 to 8000 BC) in the Sierra.

From 6000 BC BC the people settled down. On the coast they now grew bottle gourds and corn. From 4000 BC onwards Ceramics. Cultures developed in several regions, such as the Valdivia culture, the Machalilla culture and the Chorrera culture (up to 300 BC) on the coast.

Regional development

Between 500 BC Regionally well-organized communities arose. They can also be classified into a variety of cultures and peoples, for example the Manteños on the central coast, the Quitu (founders of Quito, today’s capital) or the Paltas, in the very south.


The Inca conquered the country in the 15th century. From Cusco in what is now Peru, they gradually subjugated a long strip of land on the west coast of South America. Under the ruler Tupaq Yupanqui (1471-1493) the empire reached its greatest extent. They also subjugated other peoples who lived here, such as the Caranquis or the Kañari in today’s Cañar province. On the coast in the rainforest of the Amazon lowlands, they were less successful and the peoples living there remained largely independent.

The Inca brought their language, Quechua, with them. They grew a variety of foods on terraces on the mountain slopes, including corn, potatoes, beans, quinoa, amaranth, pumpkin, tomatoes, cocoa and peanuts. They kept llamas as pack animals and alpacas mainly because of their fine wool. Guinea pigs were bred to eat.

Huayna Capac became the new Inca ruler in 1493. He divided the empire between his sons in 1527: Huascar received the south with Cusco as capital, Atahualpa received the north with Quito as capital. In 1532 Atahualpa defeated his brother and took him prisoner.

Pizarro conquers the Inca Empire

From 1532 the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro and his men conquered the entire Inca Empire. That was already weakened by the war of the brothers, and many Indians had died of smallpox and measles. The Spaniards had brought these diseases with them from Europe and they had spread rapidly via Central America to South America. Atahualpa and his entourage were ambushed by the Spanish. 4000 Inca died in less than 30 minutes (Battle of Cajamarca on November 16, 1532). Atahualpa was executed in 1533.

From the Spanish colony to the 19th century

Spanish colony (1533-1809)

Under changing names, Ecuador was now part of the Spanish colonies. At first it was a governorship, then from 1542 it belonged to the viceroyalty of Peru (which was initially called the viceroyalty of New Castile). In 1717 the viceroyalty of New Granada was split off from it; it included the present-day states of Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Struggle for independence (1809-1822)

As early as 1809 there was an attempt in Ecuador to get rid of the Spanish colonial power. In 1810 Ecuador declared itself independent as the state “Quito”. Fighting broke out for several years. In 1812 the Spanish troops were victorious. In 1819 new hope emerged when Simón Bolívar successfully defeated the Spanish in Colombia. Ecuador finally achieved its independence in 1822 after a two-year war. Antonio José Sucre was successful in the Battle of the Pinchincha. To get more information on Ecuador and South America, check computerminus.

Greater Colombia (1819-1830)

After defeating Spain in 1819, Simón Bolívar united the area that today includes the states of Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador (as well as parts of Peru and Guyana). Ecuador was added in 1822. The association was called “Republic of Colombia”, but is called “Greater Colombia” to distinguish it from the current state. Bolívar became President of the Republic in 1821, but hardly stayed there because he was still fighting for independence in Peru. Shortly after Bolívar’s death in 1830, Greater Colombia fell apart. Venezuela and Ecuador split off.

Republic of Ecuador (from 1830)

Ecuador was now an independent republic and received its current name. In 1832, Ecuador occupied the Galápagos Islands and annexed them. The country remained politically unstable after independence. There were repeated coups and several civil wars. In politics, liberals and conservatives could not agree. There were sharp contrasts between the rich landowners and the poor indigenous rural population. In 1851 slavery was abolished.
The cocoa boom began on the coast around 1880 and ensured a dominant position in this region. It was in competition with the highlands. There were also repeated disputes about the borders with neighboring countries, especially with Peru, to which Ecuador lost territory.

Eloy Alfaro and the Liberal Revolution (1895-1911)

General Eloy Alfaro had been involved in several uprisings and had founded the Liberal Party of Ecuador in 1878 when he finally came to power in a coup in 1895. He modernized the infrastructure and the education system, introduced religious freedom and improved the legal position of the indigenous peoples. This time is called the Liberal Revolution.

In 1904 Ecuador lost territories in the northeast to Colombia and Peru. In 1908 the railroad between Quito and Guayaquil was completed. In 1911, Alfaro was overthrown when he tried to take power again from his successor.

From the cocoa crisis to today

Cocoa crisis (1925-1947)

The Great Depression also brought chaos to Ecuador. The cocoa industry collapsed. Governments took turns in quick succession. In 1934 José María Velasco Ibarra became President of Ecuador for the first time. He had a decisive influence on politics in the 20th century and was President of Ecuador five times, most recently until 1972. He carried out economic and social reforms and further expanded the infrastructure.

In 1941 Peru invaded Ecuador and war broke out. Peru was finally granted the disputed area for decades in 1942.

1950s and 1960s: bananas

From 1947 there was an economic boom thanks to the large-scale cultivation of bananas. Industrialization began slowly.

The 1970s

Petroleum had already been found in the 1940s. In 1972 Velasco Ibarra was overthrown (again) in a coup. The military ruled the country until 1979. From 1973 onwards, more and more oil was produced. Since then, this raw material has determined the country’s economy to this day. 1979 was the first time a civil government (ie a non-military government) was democratically elected.

Border conflict with Peru (1981-1998)

Peru continued to lay claim to an area in southeast Ecuador. There were repeated shootings at the disputed border. Fighting broke out in 1981 and 1995. In 1998 a peace treaty was finally signed. Peru was awarded the disputed territory in the Orient.

Abolition of Sucre (2000)

After a severe financial and banking crisis, Ecuador’s currency, the sucre, was abolished in 2000 and the US dollar was introduced instead. There was political unrest about it. President Jamil Mahuad was overthrown. His successors, however, could not form stable governments.

Rafael Correa (2007 to 2017)

In 2007 Rafael Correa was elected as the new president. In 2008 the country received a new constitution. Free education and health care as well as more participation through citizen participation are anchored in it. It also allows for a third term for the President. Correas was re-elected in 2009 and 2013.

His politics are more left-wing with socialist features. He wants to strengthen the power of the rich elite and fight poverty in the country. He also wants to make South America strong and is a supporter of Simón Bolívar and Eloy Alfaro. He was also close to the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez.

In 2010 there was a riot among police officers and soldiers because a new law stipulated that they should receive less money for a promotion than before. Correa was injured, several people died, and more than 200 were injured.

Lenín Moreno (since 2017)

In April 2017, Lenín Moreno was elected to succeed Correa.

Ecuador History