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Learn About Ecuador

Updated on August 7, 2011
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Atahualpa | Source

Ecuador is a country full of history. It is surrounded in mystery and blood. Once a part of the Incan Empire, it fell to the Spanish and eventually won independence several centuries later.


Before Christopher Columbus’ entourage landed on the shores of the New World, Ecuador was a thriving civilization. About two hundred years before the Europeans arrived, Ecuador was independent. Then the Inca’s appeared and changed all that.

The Incan Empire spread its reach throughout the southern hemisphere. They conquered all that stood in their paths. The Ecuadorian tribes fought hard but were unable to resist the Incans.

It wasn’t long before the Incan Empire began to destroy itself. With the death of Emperor Huayna Capac and his heir, the Empire found itself in a civil war that would lead to its destruction. The fight for the throne was in progress when Pizarro landed on the shores of Ecuador.

The Arrival of the Europeans

Ecuador was not the first place Europeans landed, but their footprint extended far beyond where they physically landed. Disease spread ahead of the conquistadors, Spanish explorers, and wiped out much of the native population.

By the time of 1530 when Pizarro landed in Ecuador, disease along with the bloody civil war had weakened the Incan Empire. This was perfect for the Spaniard who was more than willing to take over the Empire and pillage the riches that he believed rested with the Empire.

Pizarro did come in and take the riches of the Empire. With many underhanded moves including holding the leader, Atahualpa, hostage the Spanish began to dismantle the Incan Empire. In number of soldiers, the Incas outnumbered the Spanish and should have easily defended their home. But the Spanish had something better than soldiers. They had more advanced weapons.

The Incas could not stand up against the Spanish technology and quickly fell when Atahualpa was captured. Even giving the Spanish all the gold he had did not save his life. By 1533, the Incan Empire had fallen and Ecuador was now in the hands of the Spanish.

Spanish Rule

Most of Spanish rule was harsh and materialistic. Haciendas and larger ranches made up most of the Spanish colonies including Ecuador. With their rule, the Spanish brought in Catholic priests, Jesuits, who set up schools and churches.

Much changed when the Jesuits were removed in the late 1700s and life became harsher and unsettled in the colonies. The desire for independence grew. The spark came when Spain fell to Napoleon in 1808.

With France ruling the colonies, even the Spanish were not happy and began the path to independence. It would take a few more decades before Ecuador could be completely independent from Spain and from France. In the mid-1800s, Ecuador achieved its dream and became its own nation.

Independent Ecuador

True peace has been hard to find in Ecuador as various powers have struggled to control it. This has been the same with many of the former Spanish Empire colonies.

When you visit Ecuador today, you will find a proud people who want to stand on their own.

Ecuador Facts

The country is over 283,000 square miles. If you want a comparison, look to the state of Nevada that is only a little bit bigger than Ecuador. The land is tropical and has over 2,000 miles of coastal water.

There are over 15 million people in Ecuador with most being descended from the native population and the Spanish colonists.

If you love volcanoes, you’ll love Cotopaxi which is one of the most active volcanoes in the entire world.

Check out Ecuador and see what it has to offer. It’s a land full of history and beautiful natural wonders.


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