Ecuador History

Ecuador History and Culture

North America


Before the Spanish conquest under the leadership of S. de Benalcázar in 1533/34, as a country starting with letter E according to, Ecuador was part of the Inca Empire. From 1563 it was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru as the “Real Audiencia de San Francisco de Quito” (judicial and administrative district) – largely independently organized – and from 1739 it was part of the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. The most important export products of the colonial economy, which was run by Indian labor, were sugar, cocoa, slaughter and pack cattle as well as textile products.

Struggle for independence

With the rebellion of Quito and the Declaration of Independence from the Spanish crown (08.10.1809) of the lengthy battle began against the Spanish governor, who only on 24.05.1822 with the victory of General AJ de Sucre in the battle of the volcano Pichincha ended. Ecuador became part of the Gran Colombia Confederation founded in 1821 (today: Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador), from which Quito (May 13, 1830), and Guayaquil and Cuenca a little later, parted. The Venezuelan General J. J. Flores, a comrade in arms of S. Bolívar , became President in 1831–35 and again in 1839–45 .

Power struggle and dictatorships

Characteristic for the first 30 years of independence were the power struggles of the rival oligarchies of the highlands and the coast. It was not until the dictatorial ruling President G. García Moreno (1861–75) initiated the establishment of a modern state system with the involvement of the church and the military (central administration, uniform school system, road and railroad construction). After his assassination there were renewed conflicts until in 1895 the Liberals prevailed as the strongest political force for the next 50 years. Your guide Eloy Alfaro (* 1842, † 1912; President 1895–1901, 1906–11) continued the policy of modernization and curtailed the power of the Catholic Church (introduction of civil marriage, divorce, nationalization of the property of church orders). As a result of the opening of the Panama Canal, the cultivation and export of cocoa became the most dynamic industry and that in Guayaquil local “cocoa barons” to the politically most influential class. When the decline in production and the global economic crisis led to the decline of the cocoa sector and the economy as a whole in the 1920s, the domestic political situation again destabilized. In 1931 the border disputes with Colombia were settled; In 1942, after losing the war with Peru, under pressure from the USA and Brazil, Ecuador had to agree to the cession of more than 200,000 square kilometers in the Amazon region to Peru. Ecuador never fully recognized the Río de Janeiro Protocol, and later even declared it invalid. The demarcation between the two countries was only completed in 1999.

With his demands for economic and social reforms and his authoritarian style of government, President J. M. Velasco Ibarra (1934/35, 1944–47, 1952–56, 1960/61 and 1968–72; several times premature impeachment through military coups) took over the political The country’s culture and development have a lasting impact. Since the export of bananas and other tropical products, as well as the extraction and export of oil since the 1970s, led to a considerable increase in state revenues, so from 1972 onwards (the fall of Velasco Ibarra) Nationalist military to initiate long overdue structural reforms, which, however, failed due to internal conflicts; a fundamental improvement in living conditions for the population was not achieved.


Early Andean cultures in pre-Columbian Ecuador are highly developed. Archaeologists found evidence of the Tolita culture such as artistic clay figurines and small objects made of gold-platinum alloys. In the 16th century, the Spanish conquerors brought the architecture and art of their homeland with them. This is particularly noticeable in the capital Quito to this day. Its old Andalusian-style town center with palaces, mansions and magnificent churches is one of the best preserved colonial architectural ensembles in Latin America and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site at an early stage.

Quito was also the starting point for A. von Humboldt’s research trips to Ecuador. The German naturalist and geographer, who undertook a spectacular expedition in South America from 1799–1804, carried out height measurements in the Andes, among other things. There he also climbed the Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain, up to 5,400 m above sea level in 1802 – an unprecedented achievement at the time. He also studied the life of Indian tribes and how people lived under the constant threat of volcanoes.

The »School of Quito«, founded by Franciscan monks in the 16th century, formed a focus of Ecuadorian art. Its most important sculptor was the indigenous Manuel Chili (* 1723, † 1796), called Caspicara, who fused elements of the Spanish Baroque with indigenous art. In the 20th century, the painter and graphic artist O. Guayasamin was a representative of expressive painting linked to folk art. In wall and panel paintings as well as in drawings, his work refers to the social and political situation in Latin America. The writer J. Carrera became internationally known with his symbolic poetry supported by humanitarian and political commitment as well J. Icaza , author of the socially critical novel “Huasipungo” (1934; German), who opposes the oppression of the indigenous population (Ecuadorian literature).

The music in Ecuador is diverse. The popular music style, mainly on the coast, is Pasillo with its most important interpreter Julio Jaramillo (* 1935, † 1978), the Sanjuanito as music of the indigenous people from the Andes and the marimba of the Afro-Ecuadorians in the Esmeraldas province. Everywhere in the country you can see the colorful traditional costumes and ponchos of the indigenous people and the lively life in their markets. The textile and art products of the Otavalo Indians in the northern province of Imbabura are particularly well known. The most popular sport is soccer. Ecuavóley, a form of volleyball, comes from the highlands and is played in parks and streets across the country. Each team has three instead of five players.

World Heritage Sites in Ecuador

World Heritage Sites (K) and World Natural Heritage (N)

  • Galápagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve (N; 1978)
  • Old Quito (K; 1978)
  • Sangay National Park (N; 1983)
  • Colonial city center of Cuenca (K; 1999)
  • Great Inca Road » Qhapaq Ñan « in the Andes (K; 2014)

Ecuador History