The first stage of Ecuador’s history dates back to the aboriginal societies of about 15,000 to 20,000 years BC. Those villages had their own social organization, beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, and an economy based mainly on agriculture and harvesting.

Vestiges of their existence can be found in different parts of the country, mainly in ceremonial centers and archaeological sites that have been discovered. Their existence lasted until the 16th century, when Spanish conquerors arrived. Scientists and scholars divided that stage into four periods: Paleoindian or Preceramic, Formative, Regional Development, Integration and Inca.

Pre-Columbian Period

10000 - 3600 B.C. Preceramic The human being lived from hunting, fishing and gathering of fruits.
3600 - 1800 B.C. Early Formative The human being lived from hunting, fishing, gathering of fruits and incipient agriculture.
1800 - 1500 B.C. Middle Formative Agriculture further developed.
1500 - 500 B.C. Late Formative Agriculture is strengthened. The economy becomes more agrarian.
500 B.C. - 500 A.D. Regional Development Agriculture is further strengthened. Urbanization expands.
500 - 1500 A.D. Integration Agriculture increases. Society becomes more complex.

Period of the Incas

1450 Organization and expansion Tupac Yupanqui began the conquest of the Andean north.
1485 Death of Tupac-Yupanqui Huayna-Cápac is proclaimed an Inca.
1525 Death of Huayna-Cápac Tahuantinsuyo, between Atahualpa and Huáscar, is divided.

The Conquest

1534 Conquest of Quito Sebastián de Benalcázar undertakes the Conquest of Quito.
1563 Audience of Quito Philip II issues a royal decree, creating the Royal Audience and Chancellery of San Francisco of Quito.

The Independence

1809 - 1812 Quito’s Revolution Independence was declared without being obtained.
1820 - 1822 Independence: final stage Patriotic forces finally manage to prevail.
1822 Gran Colombia: formation With the name “District of the South”, Ecuador forms part of the Gran Colombia.
1830 Gran Colombia: dissolution The independent State of Ecuador is formed: the life of the country as a Republic begins.

 Organization of the Incas (1000 AD)

The Central Andean Cordillera was the seat of the Incan Empire. In an area that exceeded four thousand square kilometers, it stretched from southern Colombia to northern Chile, over a territory called Tahuantinsuyo. The Incas consisted of a vast population of dozens of ethnic groups with different languages, customs and economies based on land use. In Ecuador, they expanded throughout the Andes, occupied parts of the coast and exerted considerable influence in Quito.

Arrival of the Spanish and end of Tahuantinsuyo (1532)

In 1532, the end of Tahuantinsuyo began with the incarceration of Atahualpa. Severe clashes took place between the Europeans and the Incas, who refused to be conquered. For the Spanish, America was a land full of riches, exploited in service to the Crown. Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro were the main protagonists of the time and brutality dominated the local Indigenous Peoples. Several strategies were implemented by the Europeans, including the use of catechizing and of putting one rival Indigenous chief against another.

The Audience of Quito in the Colony

The Royal Audience of Quito was established in 1563 as an administrative entity dependent upon the Spanish Crown. It extended northwards to Pasto, Popayán, Cali, Buenaventura and Buga, in the current territory of Colombia, and southwards to Piura, Peru. Its first president was Spaniard Hernando de Santillán. From the beginning of the 18th century, the Audience of Quito was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. It then passed to the command of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, located in Santa Fe, until its abolition, after which it once again became dependent on the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Political and Administrative Situation at the end of the 18th Century

Distrust was part of colonial society due to the ambiguous situation that unfolded in the Audience of Quito. The Marquis of Selva Alegre (1753) centralized the State and established a monopoly on alcohol and tobacco. Thus, the famous Tobacco Revolt occurred, which was joined by other uprisings of Indigenous Peoples. This was followed by administrative reorganizations that allowed for higher tax revenues. In the late 18th century, Francisco Luis Hector, Baron of Carondelet, became President and secured greater power for Quito, such as control over the Superintendent of the Royal Treasury and the creation of a Captaincy General.

Rupture with the Colony and Independence

Social decadence accelerated during the second half of the 18th century. Historians attribute several factors to the fall of the colonial system. One of these is considered to be the end of silver production in Potosí. The elaboration of textiles was notably reduced. The reforms that were introduced limited the power of the private elites. Independence occurred between the end of the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century. Its causes were both internal and external in nature. One of these was the influence of the French Revolution on the region.

The Gran Colombia

After Independence, on different dates in 1822, the three most important cities in the country, Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, were incorporated into the Gran Colombia. Bolivar assumed the Presidency of this new nation consisting also of Venezuela and New Granada. With administrative organizational objectives, the territory was divided into the departments of Venezuela, Cundinamarca and Quito. However, the integration of these nations generated resistance and problems because of the emergence of particular interests and ambitions throughout the entire process, which all contributed to its disintegration.

Formation of the Republican State

Following the failure of Gran Colombia, the Republic of Ecuador was created in 1830. Since then, political struggles have characterized republican life. The new State did not accomplish the integration of its different regions. In this regard, local autonomous powers were formed that entered into conflict with the State and that, furthermore, handled their own resources. A unified currency did not exist, which seriously affected the existence of a central authority.

Text: Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador and the webpage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador.

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