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  Ecuador History - Historia del Ecuador
Ecuador History - Ecuador's culture and history mirrors the diversity of its landscape. Like much of South America, Ecuadorian culture blends the influences of Spanish colonialism with the resilient traditions of pre-Columbian peoples. Archaeologists trace the first inhabitants as far back as 10,000 BC, when hunters and gatherers established settlements on the southern coast and in the central highlands. By 3,200 BC three distinct agricultural-based civilizations had emerged, producing some of the hemisphere's oldest known pottery. They developed trade routes with nearby Peru, Brazil, and Amazonian tribes. Culture continued to thrive and diversify, and by 500 BC large cities had been established along the coast. Their inhabitants had sophisticated metalworking and navigational skills and they traded with Mexico's Maya. In 1460 AD, when the Inca ruler Tupac-Yupanqui invaded from the south, three major tribes in Ecuador were powerful enough to give him a fight: the Canari, the Quitu, and the Caras.

The Incas were a dynamic, rapidly advancing society. They originated in a pocket of Peru, but established a vast empire within a century. It dominated Peru and extended as far as Bolivia and central Chile. The Inca constructed massive, monumental cities. To communicate across their empire they laid wide, stone-paved highways thousands of kilometers long and sent chains of messengers along them. These mailmen passed each other records of the empire's status, which were coded in system of knots along a rope. A winded runner could even rest in the shade of trees planted along both sides of the road. Remarkably, the Canari, Quitu, and Caras were able to hold back Tupac-Yupanqui, though they proved less successful against his son, Huayna Capac. After conquering Ecuador, Huayna Capac indoctrinated the tribes to Quechua, the language of the Incas, which is still widely spoken in Ecuador.

In celebration of his victory, Huayna Capac ordered a great city to be built at Tomebamba, near Cuenca Its size and influence rivaled the capital of Cuzco in Peru--a rivalry that would mature with posterity. When he died in 1526, Huayna Capac divided the empire between his two sons, Atahualpa and Huascar. Atahualpa ruled the northern reaches from Tombebamba, while Huascar held court over the south from Cuzco. The split inheritance was an unconventional and fateful move, as the first Spaniards arrived in the same year. On the eve of Pizarro's expedition into the empire, the brothers entered into a civil war for complete control.

Francisco Pizarro landed in Ecuador in 1532, accompanied by 180 fully armed men and an equally strong lust for gold. Several years earlier, Pizarro had made a peaceful visit to the coast, where he heard rumors of inland cities of incredible wealth. This time, he intended to conquer the Incas just as Hernando Cortez had crushed Mexico's Aztecs--and he couldn't have picked a better time. Atahualpa had only recently won the war against his brother when Pizarro arrived, and the empire was still unstable. Pizarro ambushed the ruler, forced him to collect an enormous ransom, and then executed him. Although the Incas mounted considerable resistance to Pizarro, they were soon broken.

Spanish governors ruled Ecuador for nearly 300 years, first from Lima, Peru, then later from the viceroyalty of Colombia. The Spanish introduced Roman Catholicism, colonial architecture, and today's national language. Independence was won in 1822, when the famed South American liberator Simon Bolivar defeated a Spanish army at the Battle of Pichincha.

Bolivar united Ecuador with Colombia and Venezuela, forming the state of Gran Colombia. His plan was to eventually unite all of South America as a constitutional republic, and one can only wonder what such a nation would have been like if his dream had been realized. After eight years, however, local interests sparked Ecuador to secede from the union. Colombia and Venezuela soon split.

Ecuador's modern history has had its struggles. A long-standing, internal dispute between the conservative city of Quito and the liberal Guayaquil has at times boiled over into violence. Near the turn of the century, leaders on both sides were assassinated, and military dictators have ruled the country for most of its recent history. Ecuador returned to democracy in 1979, however, and free elections have continued since.

Full country name: Republic of Ecuador     Area: 175,780 sq mi)
Population: 13,000,000                             Capital city: Quito (1.5 million)
People: 40% mestizo, 40% Indian, 15% Spanish descent, 5% African descent
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Quichua, other indigenous languages
Religion: Over 90% Roman Catholic and other Christian denominations.
National Anthem =>
Ecuador National Anthem        

Ecuador Flag - A condor, poised to attack enemies, protects the nation under its wings. Blue symbolizes independence from Spain. Yellow recalls the Federation of Greater Colombia. Red stands for courage. Effective date 7 November 1900.

Part #2

At the time of the arrival of the first Europeans in the last years of the fifteenth century, the native population of the South America, was estimated to have numbered 10 to 15 million, more than half of whom lived in the the northern and central Andes and adjacent areas.

The Indians whom the first European explorers, settlers, and conquerors encountered ranged culturally from extremely primitive nomads (Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Amazon Basin) to highly advanced communities of the Inca State (in present-day Peru, northern Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador) and Colombia. These societies of the Andes are believed to have had rural communities dependent on agriculture as early as 1000 B.C.

Inca empire

The Inca empire was the largest and most advanced empire on the American continent before its discovery by Europeans. At its height, the empire extended from northern Ecuador to central Chile and from the Andes to the coast. The Incas were originally a Peruvian highland tribe who spoke Quechua language. According to a mythological account, they came from the south and settled in the Cuzco basin, to which they were at first confined. Apparently the Incas expanded their rule on neighboring tribes about 1100 A.D. The empire reached its peak in the fifteenth century.

The Inca empire developed an economy based on an intensive terracing of mountain slopes and irrigation. This civilization, which developed urban centers, a road network, and a well organized and efficient administration, achieved remarkable skills in metal refining and metal working, architecture, weaving, pottery, and other arts. The Spanish conquest brought to an end the Inca empire in 1532

Colonial Andes

Spanish settlement, was at first mostly limited to coastal regions and along navigable rivers. It later expanded to some basins and valleys in the Andes, where better climatic conditions prevailed and where coveted resources (mainly precious metals) and local labor were more readily available. Gold and silver mining attracted Spanish settlers to Colombia and Peru. These countries were the most important sources of both metals during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Other colonialists seized areas of agricultural land in the Andes and established large estates, using forced local labor. Where native Indians did not meet the labor requirements of the colonialists (mainly in the northern and northeastern areas) large numbers of African slaves were imported.

Disease and oppression brought by colonial rule and immigration greatly reduced the indigenous Indian population in large part of the continent and mainly in the Andes; in some parts Indians almost disappeared. The number of European who settled in South America during the colonial period (1500-1800) was, according to some estimates 200,00 to 300,000 including missionaries, army personnel, and government and church officials. These settlers were to a large extent Spanish and Portuguese, as colonial authorities admitted only small numbers of other European countries.

The division of South America between Spain and Portugal was originally based on the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) between those countries. It gave Portugal the right to take possession of the northeastern and eastern coast of Brazil. Spanish possessions extended from the northwestern coast of South America till the south. Lima was for over two centuries the main Spanish administrative center, as capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which extended over all Spanish possessions. During the eighteenth century this entity was divided into three main administrative units: the Viceroyalty of New Granada, established in 1717 (Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador); the Viceroyalty of Peru, in 1542 (Peru and Chile); and the Viceroyalty of La Plata, in 1776 (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia). This division remained until the end of the colonial period.

The new Andean Republics.

The immediate cause of the revolt against Spanish rule in the Andean region was the Napoleonic conquest of Spain, the "motherland" in 1808 and its consequences. However, the ideas emanating from the French Revolution and the declaration of Independence in the United States had a strong impact in the political aspirations of those who led the struggles for independence in Andean Viceroyalties: Simon Bolivar in New Granada and Jose de San Martin in La Plata. The Independence wars lasted from 1808 till 1824, when after the Spanish defeat, seven countries were established in the Andes and adjacent regions: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

All the new states became formal republics, with constitutions similar, in most cases, to that of the United States; they were headed by a President with wide executive powers and had a legislature composed of two chambers. Most states were throughout the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century subject to internal instability and strife between rival political and economic groups or regions. The strict restriction of foreign immigration and trade which prevailed trough out the colonial period was lifted following he attainment of Independence. It took however, several decades before the region attracted immigrants on a much larger scale than before and also for the volume of foreign trade to increase substantially. The Andean countries attracted comparatively fewer European immigrants than the Atlantic states of the continent (Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil).

The rapid population growth of Andean countries from the beginning of the twentieth century and especially since the 1930s was to a large extent due to natural increase, which was for many years higher than that of any other part of the continent and the world. Substantial progress toward industrialization began in some countries only after World War I and had been accelerated in most only after World War II. Industrial production plays an important role in the economy of all the Andean countries, where only in recent years democratic regimes have gain control and there are clear indications of advanced toward a more progressive social and political order.

Historia del Ecuador en Español = In Spanish




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