Useful travel information on Ecuador, type of currency, climate, things to bring, different areas to visit and where to stay.


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History of Ecuador

The History of Ecuador extends over a 9,000-year period. During this time a variety of cultures and territories influenced what has become the Republic of Ecuador. The history can be divided into five eras: Pre-Columbian, The Conquest, The Colonial Period, The War of Independence and the Republican Era. The beginning of the history is represented by a variety of cultures and finishes with the Incan invasion. The Incas were followed closely by the arrival of the conquistadors, the Spanish Conquests. The Spanish would found modern day Quito and Guayaquil as part of the political-administration era which lasted until the war of Independence, the rise of Gran Colombia and Simon Bolivar to the final separation of his vision into what is known today as the Republic of Ecuador.


Pre-Columbian Ecuador

The present Republic of Ecuador is at the heart of the region where a variety of civilizations developed for millennia. During pre-Inca period people lived in clans, which formed great tribes, some allied with each other to form powerful confederations, as the Confederation of Quito. But none of these confederations could resist the formidable momentum of the Tawantinsuyu. The invasion of the Inca in the fifteenth century was very painful and bloody. However, once occupied by the Quito hosts of Huayna Capac (1593-1595), the Incas developed an extensive administration and began the colonization of the region. The pre-Columbian era can be divided up into four eras

  • Preceramic Period
  • Formative Period
  • Period of Regional Development
  • Period of Integration and the Arrival of the Incas

Preceramic Period

The Pre Ceramic period begins with the end of the last ice age and continues through 4200bc. The Las Vegas culture and The Inga Cultures dominated this period.

Las Vegas Culture

The Las Vegas Culture lived on the Santa Elena Peninsula on coast of Ecuador between 9,000-6,000 bc. The skeletal remains and other finds show evidence the culture once flourished in the area. Scientists have split the culture into three phases. The earliest people were hunter-gathers and fisherman. Approximately 6,000 bc the culture were among the first to begin farming (bottle gourd Lagenaria siceraria and an early type of corn/maize Zea mays L.) The best known remains of the culture are the “The Lovers of Sumpa” these bones and other items can be seen at Museo Los Amantes de Sumpa y Centro Cultural in Santa Elena.

El Inga

The Inga lived in the Sierra near present day Quito. Evidence from their archeological site El Inca date the culture to 9000-8000 BC. Several sites were excavated around 1961 and it is estimated this areas to be one of the most important in South America and existed along a once ancient trade route. The tools used by these early nomadic hunters have provided relationships to the Clovis culture level I at Fell's Cave in southern Chile, and technological relationships to the late Pleistocene "fluted point" complexes of North America.

Formative Period

During the Formative Period moved people of the region moved from the hunter-gather a simple farming into a more developed society, with permanent developments, an increase in agriculture and the use of ceramics. New cultures included the Machalilla culture, Valdivia, Chorrera in the coast; Cotocollao, The Chimba in the sierra; and Pastaza, Chiguaza in the oriental region.

Valdivia Culture

The Valdivia culture is the first culture where significant remains have been discovered. Their civilization dates back as early as 3500 B.C. Living in the area near The Valdivias were the first Americans to use pottery. They created bowls, jars and female statues out of clay both for everyday life and for use in religious ceremonies. They navigated the seas on rafts with sails and established a trade network with tribes in the Andes and the Amazon. Valdivia art and artifacts have been found throughout the country and an extensive collection is on display at the Museo Fianco Banco Central in Quito and the mama el pito(:UEES in Guayaquil.

Machallila Culture

Succeeding the Valdivia, the Machallia Culture were a farming culture who thrived along the coast of Ecuador between the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. Their ceramics are easily differentiated from the Valdivia as they were painted black or white with red stripes, figurines were rare and crudely made. These appear to be the earliest people to cultivate maize in this part of South America.

Chorrera Culture

Existing in the late formative period the Chorrera culture lived in the Andes and Coastal Regions of Ecuador between 1000 and 300 BC . Best known for their hollow ceramic animal and plant shaped figurines.

Period of Regional Development

The period of Regional Development is identified that for the first time the regional differences in the territorial or political and social organization of people that formed. Among the main towns of this period were the cultures: Jambelí, Guangala, Bahia, Tejar-Daule, La Tolita, Jama Coaque in the coast of Ecuador, in the sierras the Cerro Narrío Alausí; and in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle the Tayos.

La Bahia

The figurine of the Bahia Culture (300 BC - 500 AD) La Chimba is the site of the earliest ceramic northern Andes, north of Quito, and is representative of the Formative Period in its final stage. Its inhabitants contacted several villages on the coast and the mountains, keeping close proximity to the Cotocollao culture, located on the plateau of Quito and its surrounding valleys. The Bahia culture occupied the area that stretches from the foothills of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean, and from Bahía de Caráquez, to the south of Manabi. The Jama-Coaque culture inhabited areas between Cabo San Francisco in Esmeraldas, to Bahía de Caráquez, in Manabi, in an area of wooded hills and vast beaches of their immigrant who facilitated the gathering of resources of both the jungle and the ocean.

La Tolita Culture

The La Tolita developed in the coastal region of Southern Colombia and Northern Ecuador between 600 bc and 200 dc. A Number of archaeological sites have been discovered and show the highly artistic nature of this culture. Artifacts are characterized by gold jewelry, beautiful anthropomorphous masks and figurines that reflect a hierarchical society with complex ceremonies.

Period of Integration and the Arrival of the Inca

Tribes throughout Ecuador integrated during this period. They were creating housing that allowed them to improve their living conditions and no longer be reliant on the climate. In the mountains Cosangua-Píllaro, Capuli, Piartal-Tuza, in the eastern region is Phase Yasuní while on the coast were built cultures Milagro, Manteña and Huancavilca.

Los Manteños

The Manteños were the last of the pre-Columbian cultures in the coastal region existing between 600–1534. They were the first to witness the arrival of Spanish ships sailing in the surrounding Pacific Ocean. According to archaeological evidence and Spanish chronicles the civilization existed from Bahia de Caraquez to Cerro de Hojas in the south. They were excellent weavers, produced textiles, articles of gold, silver spondylus shells and mother of pearls. The manteños mastered the seas and created an extensive trade routes as far as Chile to the south and Western Mexico to the north. The center of the culture was in the area of Manta which was named in their honor.

Los Huancavilcas

The Huancavilcas constitute the most important pre colombinan culture of Guayas. These warriors were noted for their appearance. Huancavilca of culture is the legend of Guayas and Quiles, which gives its name to the city of Guayaquil.

Los Shyris and the Kingdom of Quito

The existence of the Kingdom of Quito was formed by the Quitus, the Puruhaes and Cañari who inhabited by that time the Andean regions of Ecuador today. Their main settlement was in the area where they were later lifted the city of Quito, and its inhabitants are called Quitus. The Quitus were backward and weak, also formed a small kingdom and poorly organized, so it could not raise a vigorous existence of the invaders, and were easily defeated and subjugated by the Shyris, ancient indigenous people who joined the Kingdom of Quito. The Shyris dominated more than 700 years, and their dynasty that saw the invasions of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui.

The Incas

The Inca civilization expansion northward from modern-day Peru during the late fifteenth century met with fierce resistance by several Ecuadorian tribes, particularly the Cañari, in the region around modern-day Cuenca; the Cara in the Sierra north of Quito; and the Quitu, occupants of the site of the modern capital, after whom it was to be named. The conquest of Ecuador began in 1463 under the leadership of the ninth Inca, the great warrior Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. In that year, his son Tupa took over command of the army and began his march northward through the Sierra.

By 1500 Tupa's son, Huayna Capac, overcame the resistance of these populations and that of the Cara, and thus incorporated all of modern-day Ecuador into Tawantinsuyu, as the Inca empire was known. The influence of these conquerors based in Cuzco (modern-day Peru) was limited to about a half century, or less in some parts of Ecuador. During that period, some aspects of life remained unchanged. Traditional religious beliefs, for example, persisted throughout the period of Inca rule. In other areas, however, such as agriculture, land tenure, and social organization, Inca rule had a profound effect despite its relatively short duration.

Emperor Huayna Capac became very fond of Quito, making it a secondary capital of Tawantinsuyu and living out his elder years there before his death in about 1527. Huayna Capac's sudden death from a strange disease, described by one smallpox precipitated a bitter power struggle between Huascar, whose mother was Coya (meaning Empress) Mama Rahua Occillo and legetimate heir, and Atahualpa, a son who, borne to a Quitu princess, and reputedly his father's "favorite."

This struggle raged during the half-decade before the arrival of Francisco Pizarro's conquering expedition in 1532. The key battle of this civil war was fought on Ecuadorian soil, near Riobamba, where Huascar's northbound troops were met and defeated by Atahualpa's southbound troops. Atahualpa's final victory over Huascar in the days just before the Spanish conquerors arrived resulted in large part from the loyalty of two of Huayna Capac's best generals, who were based in Quito along with Atahualpa. The victory remains a source of national pride to Ecuadorians as a rare case when "Ecuador" forcefully bettered a "neighboring country."