Latinamerica Collection
History of Ecuador

Pre-Columbian Period

Although Ecuador is home to very little Pre-Columbian archaeological evidence, those artifacts that have been found date back to some 3500 BCE. Until the Incan conquest, which began in the late 1400s, Ecuador was mostly populated by various small agricultural tribes that were often in conflict with each other.


In 1463, the Incan conquest began in modern day Ecuador and was met with strong resistance by the local indigenous tribes. After many years of war, the Incans eventually took control of the area in 1500 and declared it part of the Incan Empire. Though this Incan conquest was indeed part of Ecuadorian history, it only accounted for roughly a half century of the region's past compared to the thousands of years that were characterized by the early indigenous tribes. However, in this short period of time, the Incans introduced various agricultural ideas and foods to the region.


Colonial Period
The Spanish first arrived in Ecuador in the 1520s and were able to take over the land from the Incans in 1531. After several years of rule by the Spanish crown Ecuador became an important part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Ecuador remained a dependent part of Peru until the early eighteenth century. However, in 1563 Quito earned its own audiencia and was therefore able to communicate directly with Spain regarding certain issues.


The Ecuadorian region marched on even during the spread of disease and the onset of depression which impoverished even the wealthy landowners by the late 1700s. In addition, a French intellectual exhibition came to Ecuador to perform various scientific experiments such as measuring the Earth's circumference at the equator. During this time, the visiting group spread ideas of enlightenment and democracy which finally managed to open the eyes of isolated Ecuador. After a failed initial attempt to become free of Spanish rule, Ecuador sought the assistance of those other countries that had already earned their independence. With the help of its new allies, Ecuador managed to defeat the loyal forces and become independent of Spain in 1822.


After its victory in 1822, Ecuador became part of the Republic of Gran Colombia until 1830 when it became its own sovereign nation. In the 1860s the Catholic Church gained strong power in the country and led to its unification. Also, a strong demand for cocoa around the world led to a strong export economy that lasted in the first quarter of the twentieth century. However, a liberal movement at the end of nineteenth century along with the end of this cocoa boom led to a government coup. However, shortly after these events, many conditions improved and Ecuador experienced a period of relative stability.


However, the mid 1990s marked the renewal of instability in the region. The 1996 election of Abdul Buckram quickly turned out to be a mistake, and he was forced to leave office on grounds of corruption and mental incompetency in 1997. In 1998 increasing economic and financial problems in Ecuador led to various demonstrations and the forced handing over of power to Gustavo Noboa in 2000. His term lasted until 2003 and did bring added stability to the country. However, the election of Lucio Gutierrez was yet another mistake and led to his forced removal from power as well in 2005. Alfredo Palacio was then placed in power by Congress and achieved only mild reforms. Rafeal Correa was sworn in as the next president in early 2007 by free elections.