History of Ecuador

Brief history of Ecuador summarized

A brief tour of the summarized history of Ecuador, a South American country.

The beginnings of Ecuador

The natives of Ecuador grew corn, beans, potatoes, and squashes. They kept dogs and guinea pigs for meat. Many of them were potters and metallurgists skilled in gold, silver and copper. However, at the end of the XV century they were conquered by the Incas.

The Spanish first sighted the coast of Ecuador in 1526 and were soon reconquered. The Spanish conquered what is now Ecuador in 1534. The Spanish had already conquered the Incas in what is now Peru.

However, the Inca resistance continued to the north. Francisco Pizarro’s follower, Sebastián de Benalcazar, led another army into Ecuador from the south and gradually crushed the remaining resistance in the region.

In 1534 the Spanish founded the city of Quito on the remains of a captured Inca city. Guayaquil was founded in 1535. Cuenca was founded in 1557.

However, diseases brought by the Spanish, especially smallpox, killed many more natives than the soldiers. Without resistance to European diseases, the Ecuadorian people were decimated.

Meanwhile, much of the Ecuadorian land and people were partitioned among the Spanish. They owned large farms, which were worked by the natives, who were serfs.

The Spanish also brought slaves from Africa to Ecuador to work on the sugar plantations. (Today many Ecuadorians are mestizo, part Spanish, part native South American, and part African.)

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Ecuador was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, but after 1563 it was granted some autonomy. Quito became the capital and prospered in part because it was on the highway between Lima and Cartagena. The bishopric of Quito was founded in 1545. However, in the 1690s Ecuador suffered further epidemics that decimated the population.

Then, in 1717, Ecuador became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. It was returned to Peru in 1723, but became part of New Granada again in 1740.

Independent Ecuador

In the eighteenth century Ecuador suffered an economic recession. Furthermore, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Ecuadorian people, like other South Americans, became dissatisfied with Spanish rule. The people in Quito held an uprising in August 1809, but it was quickly crushed.

Ecuador separated again in 1820 and the people asked Simón Bolívar for help. His lieutenant Antonio José de Sucre won the battle of Pichincha on May 24, 1822, which guaranteed the independence of Ecuador. Ecuador became part of Gran Colombia with Colombia and Venezuela.

In 1828-1829 Ecuador was involved in a war with Peru on the border. However, Ecuador withdrew from Gran Colombia in 1830. The new country took its name from the Spanish word for Ecuador.

Venezuelan General Juan José Flores became the first president of Ecuador. He reigned from 1831 to 1835 and from 1839 to 1845. Meanwhile, slavery was abolished in Ecuador in 1851.

Meanwhile, there were tensions between the different regions of Ecuador. Finally in 1859 Ecuador was divided. This was known as the Terrible Year.

Gabriel García Moreno (1821-1875) put down the rebellions and made Ecuador a single nation again. In 1861 he became president. Moreno was a conservative who ruled with a heavy hand. However, he restored order and promoted economic development. He also made Roman Catholicism the state religion. However, Moreno was assassinated in 1875.

General Ignacio de Veintimilla succeeded him. He ruled as dictator of Ecuador until 1884, when constitutional government was restored.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Ecuadorian economy flourished. Panama hats were made in the country and cocoa exports soared.

Twentieth century

In 1895 a military coup brought a liberal named Eloy Alfaro to power. (He was president from 1895 to 1901 and from 1906 to 1911). Under him, the power of the church was restricted. Civil marriage and divorce were introduced. However, in 1925 conservative officials overthrew the regime.

Like the rest of the world, Ecuador suffered from the economic depression of the 1930s. There was also political instability and a rapid succession of presidents.

Also in 1941 Peru invaded and occupied the south or Ecuador. In 1942 Ecuador was forced to hand over part of its territory by the Rio Protocol. Also the city of Guayaquil was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1942.

However, in the late 1940s prosperity was restored by the banana boom. There was an increase in the demand for bananas and many were exported from Ecuador.

However, after about 10 years, the boom ended and political instability returned. In 1963 a period of military rule began. A junta ruled Ecuador until 1966. Then, after a period of civilian rule, the army took power again in 1972.

In 1976 there was a second coup led by a group of officers who promised to return the country to civilian rule. Democracy returned to Ecuador in 1979.

Oil was discovered in 1967 and soon became Ecuador’s main export product. Other exports are shrimp, bananas, coffee, cocoa, and sugar.

In the 1970s the Ecuadorian economy prospered, mainly due to oil. However, in the 1980s the price of oil fell drastically. Ecuador was affected by the recession. There was also high inflation and a high level of unemployment. Ecuador’s economic problems continued into the 1990s and worsened at the end of the decade with severe inflation.

Jamil Mahuad was elected president in 1998, but with him the crisis worsened. In January 2000, indigenous peoples led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) joined with soldiers to remove Jamil Mahuad from power.

He was replaced by Vice President Gustavo Noboa. He soon proved to be a competent leader who ushered in a wave of reforms and under him the recovery began.

Meanwhile, Ecuador waged an undeclared war with Peru on its border. The fighting began in 1995 and ended in 1998, when a peace treaty was signed.

Ecuador today

At the beginning of the 21st century, poverty in Ecuador decreased. Today tourism is a fast growing industry in Ecuador.

In 2006 Rafael Correa was elected president of Ecuador. He was reelected in 2009 and 2013. Meanwhile, in 2008, Ecuador adopted a new constitution. Today the population of Ecuador is 16 million inhabitants. The economy is growing, although it remains heavily dependent on the oil industry.

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