History of Ecuador

History of Ecuador

A History of Ecuador

Ecuador’s tumultuous history is, in many ways, cyclical. The country continually struggles against deep-rooted social, political-economic, and geographical challenges. The same factors that determined Ecuador’s history during the last two centuries continue to dominate its landscape at the beginning of the 21st century.

During Ecuador’s Pre-Colombian Period, a variety of indigenous groups coexisted for thousands of years before being subjugated, first by the Inca and then by Spanish conquistadors. Although both conquests were brutal invasions, inhabitants suffered far more under Spain than under the Inca.

During its colonial history, as part of the Viceroys of Peru and Nueva Granada, the people of what is now Ecuador saw a rise in exotic disease, forced labor and inequality. The economic decline of Spain, the rise of Enlightenment ideals, and a spreading South American independence movement coincided to help revolutionaries win independence from Spain on May 24, 1822. During its early years of independence, Ecuador belonged to Simón Bolívar’s Republic of Gran Colombia, which also included present-day Venezuela and Colombia. This association did not last long however, and the Ecuador’s establishment as a republic precipitated a period of strong influence by the Catholic church. Eloy Alfaro and followers fought for many secular reforms during the Liberal Revolution.


During the Great Depression, Ecuador experienced tremendous political instability, culminating in a war with Peru at the brink of World War II. Ecuador’s Post-War Period saw a marked increase in inequality, instability.


Correspondingly, contemporary Ecuadorian history has also been marked by radical instability stemming from fluctuation in world oil and financial markets, debt and modernization.

Examining the course of Ecuador’s history, four themes emerge:

  • First, the vast majority of the nation’s wealth sits in the hands of a very few; a small middle class struggles to survive; and more than half of the country’s population hovers at or below the poverty level. Ecuador’s highly inequitable economic and social structure can be traced to colonial era racial discrimination and land tenure patterns, and to its dominant European cultural expressions.

  • Second, the large-scale, export-oriented agricultural enterprises of Ecuador’s coastal region, represented by Guayaquil, continue to compete with the smaller farms and businesses of the Andean highlands, represented by Quito (by Ryder at dress This persistent regional rivalry often determines the outcome of key national issues and frequently paralyzes the government.

  • Third, the economy continues to enjoy periods of “boom” and suffer periods of “bust” due to its dependence on a few export commodities, such as oil. The constant rise and fall of the economy makes it very difficult for Ecuador to realize any meaningful economic, social or political changes.
  • Fourth, the political system lacks strong, stable institutions. Since independence from Spain in 1822, there have been more than ninety changes of power. On average, every two years, a new civilian or military government takes control. Governmental institutions, without the opportunity to mature, have been unable to address Ecuador’s constantly re-emerging problems. Ecuador’s lack of a stable political system is both the result and cause of the nation’s disparate class structure, regionalism, and roller coaster economy.

Ecuador’s colonial roots are not confined to the history books, they are visible in everyday life, even after almost two hundred years of independence from Spain.


Related Pages

Provider Spotlight

Free Galapagos Trip Planner at Galapagos Islands .com – easily plan your Galapagos vacation online, find great value, and a wide selection of customized Galapagos cruises and vacations.

Galapagos Tour Experts – Adventure Life Specialize in luxury Galapagos cruises, and land-based Galapagos tours. Adventure Life can help you design the perfect trip to Ecuador. As seen in Outside Magazine, NatGeo, and the New York Times.

Voyager Galapagos Tours haS excellent Galapagos cruise deals & last-minute offers, and land-based Galapagos tours (aka Island Hopping).

Galapagos & Ecuador Insiders use their local expertise to assist you in planning the perfect Galapagos cruise or Ecuador tour for your precise budget, needs, and interests.

Latin Trails craft customized journeys to the Galapagos Islands, the Ecuador mainland, the Amazon rainforest, and Peru. They operate the highly-rated Galapagos cruising yacht: Seaman Journey and the day tour yacht the Galapagos Hopper.

Andando Tours – Pioneers in Galapagos tourism. Two generations of sailing and shipbuilding showcase unparalleled knowledge in creating the most unique Galapagos Cruises. Owners & Operators of S/S Mary Anne & M/Y Passion.

Gulliver Expeditions – Learn more about our Ecuador ToursPeru ToursEcuador Climbing Expeditions, Galapagos Land Tours, and Machu Picchu Tours. Gulliver Expeditions offer fantastic travel experiences since 2005.

Surtrek Galapagos Cruises – has offered exceptional custom-designed trips to the Galapagos for over 20 years. They now bring their brand of off-the-beaten-path trips to other countries in South America such as Peru’s Machu PicchuBolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats, and Chile’s Atacama Desert.

ViaNatura – provides excellent value Galapagos cruises on the Monserrat yacht, a luxury cruise experience on the Hermes yacht, and a variety of tours in Ecuador and Peru.

Exclusive Galapagos Cruises, part of the EQ Touring group – specializes in private Galapagos yacht charters. They can help your group find the perfect yacht that matches your needs at a price negotiated by a true insider who has been doing charters in the Galapagos for decades.