Ecuador, like Colombia, belongs to the intermediate region between the high cultures of Mexico and Peru. Findings of Paleo-Indian spearheads testify to settlement as early as 7000 BC Kitchen moorings reflect a maritime adaptation circa 5000 BC, and pottery found on the coastal settlement of Valdivia is one of America’s oldest (circa 3000 BC). The Valdivia culture (c. 3000–1500 BC) probably grew maize, cassava, cotton and other crops, but also pursued hunting and fishing. The red edges of the spondylus snail were exported south already at this time and remained an extremely valuable import commodity for the Peruvian ancient cultures until the Spanish conquest. The ceramic style of the Valdivi culture was succeeded by the machalilla (1500–1000 BC) and the chorera cultures (1000–200 BC). At La Tolita and Manta, ceremonial complexes were built with excavation tombs, burial mounds and small pyramids.
From the latter half of the 15th century, Ecuador constituted a northern part of the Inca (compare Inca), and because of the area’s wealth, Quito became the second capital of the kingdom. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Ecuador. This eventually led to a division of the Incarich into one part with the center in Cuzco and another part with the center in Quito, which significantly facilitated Francisco Pizarro’s conquest company.
Quito was subjugated by the Spanish in 1535, and a Spanish city, San Francisco de Quito, was formed on the ruins of the Native American. The province of Quito, which was first part of the Viceroy of Peru and became part of New Granada in the 18th century, was made in 1563 into an administrative unit with the seat of a higher court with important administrative powers.
The Spanish Quito was characterized by a well-balanced economy and a thriving cultural life during the 17th century. However, prosperity was based on the oppression and marginalization of the Native American population. The 18th century became a problematic century with increasing financial difficulties and social unrest. It was then that the country’s still-existing gulf emerged between an expansive coastal country, La Costa, and a traditionalist highland, La Sierra. Guayaquil was La Costa’s foremost city and based its rise on trade and cocoa plantations with black slaves. Quito was the center of La Sierra, the city of the great landlords.
The elite’s rebellion against Spain began with the country’s declaration of independence on August 10, 1809. Ultimately, however, they could not secure their independence until Antonio José de Sucre, one of Simón Bolívar’s generals, won at Pichincha in 1822. It was at that time the name Ecuador replaced Quito. Ecuador initially became part of Bolívar’s Gran Colombia, but was constituted as an independent republic in 1830 under the leadership of Venezuelan General Juan José Flores (1800–64).
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Ecuador on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Ecuador.
The history of independent Ecuador was characterized in the next hundred years by the struggle between conservative and liberal politicians and generals. The conservatives, who were strongly church-friendly, derived their strength from Quito’s and La Sierra’s elite. The anti-clerical liberals found support from Guayaquil’s and La Costa’s obsessed classes. The country commuted between anarchy and more orderly periods during various so-called caudillos (compare caudillism).
Most famous among the Conservative leaders was the militant Catholic Gabriel García Moreno (1821–75). Among the liberals, distinguished General Eloy Alfaro (1842-1912), who directly or indirectly ruled the country between 1895 and 1911. Alfaro nationalized the church’s property, abolished Catholicism as the country’s official religion, and secularized education. La Costas and the Liberals’ influence was based on a growing cocoa export, which, however, abruptly ceased in the mid-1920s. A virtually chaotic state prevailed in the republic in 1931–44. During this period, for the first time, the momentous José María Velasco Ibarra came to power.
In 1941, Ecuador was invaded by Peru, which through an agreement in 1942 gained control over large areas east of present-day Ecuador, between the rivers Putumayo and Marañón. This was the last of a series of significant territorial losses, reducing the area of Ecuador to only a fraction of what colonial Quito could claim. The conflict with Peru is still alive today, and the latest military strike took place as late as 1995.
The years 1944–47, 1952–56 and 1960–61 reigned Velasco Ibarra again. Despite his populist rhetoric, the country was still ruled by a minority. Although this incorporated new middle class groups, the country’s majority, especially the Indians, were left without representation. Banana exports, dominated by the North American company United Fruit Co., had now become the country’s most dynamic industry. Velasco Ibarra won the 1968 election and proclaimed himself a dictator in 1970, but was deposed in a military coup in 1972. That same year Ecuador began a rapid development as an oil exporter, which together with violent population growth and urbanization created changes whose consequences are still difficult to read today.
In the 1970s, the country’s economy showed a growth rate that was one of the fastest in the world with 9.7 percent per year, and commodity exports doubled during those years. After two periods with military governments (1972–79), the increased incomes laid the foundation for a period of unusually well-organized civilian rule. Between 1984 and 1988, the right-wing politician and business leader León Febres Cordero (1931–2008) ruled). His government was formed into a combination of neoliberalism and populism, and it ended in near enough total collapse. After a race in oil prices in 1986, the country lost nearly a third of its commodity export revenue in two years. The situation was exacerbated by the large external debt, the March 1987 earthquake and the military’s kidnapping of the president that year. This is the backdrop to the Right’s decline in the 1988 election and to Social Democrat Rodrigo Borja’s victory.
In the middle of the 1990s, the fighting with Peru started again. However, a peace agreement between the two countries was signed in 1996. In the same year, populist Abdalá Bucaram (born 1952), known as the “madman”, was elected president. His attempt to implement a neoliberal policy of economic austerity resulted in nationwide strikes. After less than a year in power, he was dismissed by Congress, accused of nepotism and corruption and designated as mentally ill. Fabián Alarcón (born 1947) was appointed interim president, but was defeated in the 1998 presidential election by the lawyer and Christian Democrat Jamil Mahuad (born 1949). The new government was facing severe financial problems as a result of, among other things, extensive damage after El Niño, falling oil prices and widespread poverty.
Ecuador during the 2000s
In 1999, the currency suffered severe speculation, and the government’s countermeasures only provoked strikes and unrest. When President Mahuad decided in January 2000 to completely replace the national currency sucre with the US dollar, the political turmoil culminated in the capital being filled by thousands of protesters who, after a few days, forced the president to resign.
In the wake of Ecuador’s tumultuous 1990s, dissatisfaction with the incumbent governments had increasingly taken on ethnic form and was concentrated in the country’s ever-stronger Native American organizations, especially CONAIE. It was thanks to the support of the former army commander Lucio Gutiérrez, who was one of the leaders during the events of 2000, in November 2002 that he was elected new president. However, he was forced to continue the austerity policy pursued by his representatives, and despite good economic growth, his political support gradually disappeared until, in April 2005, he was also forced to resign following violent protests.
In the November 2006 presidential election, the Left candidate and former Finance Minister Rafael Correa won the pledge to implement a “citizen revolution” to guarantee the majority of the country better economic conditions and greater political influence. He described himself as a “Christian socialist” and wanted to transform Ecuador through a number of “revolutions” based on a new economic distribution of the country’s resources and income as well as increased national self-determination and regional integration in Latin America.
In 2007, in a referendum, Correa’s proposal to appoint a Constituent Assembly to approve a new constitution was approved. Correa’s own party, Alianza País (AP), received 80 of the 130 seats in the Constituent Assembly, whose first decision was to dissolve the sitting parliament. The proposed new constitution was supported by 64 percent of voters in a referendum in September 2008 and meant that the state gained greater control over strategically important sectors such as the mines, telecommunications and the oil sector.
Since the new constitution came into force at the end of 2008, elections were held in April 2009. Rafael Correa was re-elected president with 52 percent of the vote and his party got almost half of the seats in parliament. Correa renegotiated contracts with oil companies operating in Ecuador so that the state gets a larger share of the profits, and thanks to high oil prices, the state was able to double its public spending. The increased investment went to new schools, hospitals and roads and social programs in the form of support for the poorest groups, including single mothers.
In 2010, Correa announced a state of emergency after much of the country’s police rebelled because of a change in the law that limited some of the public employee benefits and changes in the promotion system. The police occupied military stations, the parliament and several of the country’s largest airports. Correa himself was attacked with tear gas grenades while trying to negotiate with the insurgents, and the hospital where he sought care was surrounded by police. After several failed mediation attempts, Correa ordered the army to drive the police away from the hospital, killing two police officers and injuring several civilians.
In the February 2013 presidential election, Correa was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote and in the parliamentary elections, AP received over two-thirds of the mandate. In the same year, Correa was supported by the National Congress for its proposal to start extracting oil in Yasuní National Park in violation of the so-called Yasuní-ITT initiative established in 2010. As a reason, Correa indicated that the money paid to date to the fund created in cooperation with UNDP (the United Nations Development Program), which would offset long-term oil revenues, did not reach long-term goals of US $ 3.6 billion. Correa promised that oil recovery would not harm the rich environment, but the decision sparked strong protests among the country’s Indian and environmental movements.
In April 2016, Ecuador suffered a severe earthquake. The quake was the largest the country has had in decades. At least 650 people were killed and thousands injured when buildings collapsed in several of the country’s cities.
When Correa, after ten years as president, resigned in 2017, there was greater political stability in the country than before. Money from the controversial oil recovery criticized by the country’s Native American and environmental movements was used for social reform and poverty reduction that had broad political support. During his time as president, Correa was criticized for being powerless and for trying to limit the country’s political opposition as well as media freedom.
In the 2017 presidential election, the country’s former Vice President Lenín Moreno gained barely a majority. Moreno soon withdrew from his representative and this led to open conflict with Correa. At the end of the year, Jorge Glas (born 1969; Vice President 2013–18) was sentenced to six years in prison for bribery, leading to a split of Alianza Pais; Correa and 28 MPs left the party. With this, the AP lost the majority in parliament and Moreno was forced to settle with the opposition. In February 2018, a referendum reintroduced the rule that limits the time a president can sit for two terms of office. The restriction had been removed during Correa’s time in power.
Moreno has ruled on foreign policy and approached the United States. In 2018, Ecuador left the regional cooperation organizations ALBA-TCP and UNASUR, both created on the initiative of Venezuela’s former leader Hugo Chávez. As an alternative to UNASUR, Ecuador, together with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay and Peru, formed a regional organization called PROSUR focusing on supporting democracy and the market economy.