In the highlands of Ecuador, discoveries of ceramic cultures from ca. 8000 BC In the coastal area some of the oldest American pottery finds were made (c. 3200-1800 BC). From the period approx. 500 BC – 500 AD one knows in particular the Bahia culture, an agricultural culture with large cities with temple pyramids and a religion that included snake and dragon culture.
The land area that is now Ecuador in the 15th century was the northernmost and last included part of the Incarik (Tawantinsuyo). See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Ecuador. The area was on the outskirts of the Inca empire, and consisted of agricultural communities linked by extensive barter and exchange of products between ecological niches at different elevation levels of the landscape, from the high plains (paramos) and down to the tropical rainforest in low-lying regions (montaña). Through a continuous flow of agricultural products and people, including their own traders (mindalaes), communities with different cultivation conditions and microclimates gained access to resources that were important for their survival and well-being.
The Spanish conquerors, the conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro took possession of these areas in the period 1531-33, when the Inca king Atahualpa was finally captured and killed. It is common to explain the fall of the Inca king as a result of internal quarrels between two candidates for the Incatron – Atahualpa and Huascár. According to this explanation, these contradictions made it possible for the Spanish colonizers to ally with one party to fight the other. Ethno-historical studies, on the other hand, suggest that the strife was an expression of an organizing two-part principle that characterized the Incarct(so-called Andean dualism). The contradictions can be considered as part of the general social and political organization of the societies that were included in the Incarct. Large parts of the original population died as a result of the Spanish invasion. However, most people did not die in the war, but because of epidemics such as measles, smallpox, typhoid and malaria brought to the New World by the Spaniards.
The newly conquered areas were placed under the Spanish crown and placed under the Viceroy of Peru (with its headquarters in Lima) and with a separate administrative unit for the northern areas called la Real Audiencia de Quito (with its headquarters in Quito). The day-to-day management of these areas left the Spanish crown to the descendants of the Spanish conquerors. They were allocated large tracts of land and were given extensive powers to initiate economic activity and use the labor force of the indigenous population. The Crown’s land distribution formed the basis for the growth of the large land properties, the hacienda.
For generations, large parts of the original population became attached to the haciendans. Through a large-scale restructuring of the countryside at the end of the 16th century, indigenous populations were sometimes dispersed in their own communities (reducciones). This made it easier for Crown officials and the Catholic Church to tax them, and enabled the hacienda to avail themselves of their labor through debt bondage and forced labor. The colonial mercantilist economy sought to exploit the resource and production benefits that existed within various parts of the Viceroy of Peru. In the north, a combination of agriculture, sheep farming and textile production formed the core of this economy. Textile factories (obrajes) were built within the hacienda and a system of forced labor was introduced.
The gathering of the rural population in their own communities was part of a larger project to manage the indigenous population separate from the emerging urban environments that consisted of Hispanic descendants and mixed populations (termed as Creole in the colonial era and that miserable in recent times). In the terminology of the time, the Spanish crown created ‘two republics’ – one that included the native population (referred to as Native Americans) and the other which comprised the European-born and mixed population. Economically and socially, the hacienda system formed a link between these two republics.
Catholicism was introduced along with colonialization. The Spanish conquerors launched a large-scale campaign to destroy the religious symbols and places of the indigenous peoples. New cities were built over the ruins of ancient sacred sites and marketplaces. The indigenous peoples most likely had animistic beliefs, that is, they believed that the natural environment was inspired by spirits to which humans were interdependent. That there are still strong elements of animist religion among the Kichwa population is an indication that the Catholic Church adapted rather than eradicated existing religious beliefs and practices.
In line with major political influences and internal responses from various actors and environments, the colonial regime changed in the northern Andesover the centuries. In the early period, in the 16th century, the new colony administration relied on close cooperation between Spanish conquerors who had been granted the right to claim tribute in areas assigned by the crown (encomenderos) and chiefs of the indigenous population (caciques). At the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 1600s, and in connection with a series of reforms initiated by Vice-Chancellor Francisco Toledo, the right to collect tributes was transferred to royal officials (corregidores). The change led the land-owning elite to search for new sources of income, and textile production in its own factories became a key activity in the hacienda economy. While the Indian chiefs had less influence over the economy and political life, it became increasingly important for the local land-owning elite to secure political influence over the civil service. Often, large landowners also held positions and positions within the administration of the colony.
In the first half of the 18th century, the Spanish crown tried to meet the resistance and rebellion of the local elites through an administrative restructuring. An unsuccessful attempt to liquidate La Real Audiencia de Quito and create a new administrative area with its seat in Bogotá (in present-day Colombia) was followed by an incorporation of Quito into a new viceroy of New Granada of 1739. La Real Audiencia de Quito remained part of this new viceroy (also with its seat in Bogotá) until independence in the early 1800s.
Local riots characterized Ecuador in the early 1800s. After Simón Bolívar took over Colombia in 1819, he continued his campaign south toward Ecuador where he joined forces with Chile’s independence forces in Guayaquil in 1820. In 1822, Bolívar’s general Sucre Quito took from the royalists, and Ecuador joined Great Colombiain association with Colombia and Venezuela. In 1830 Ecuador became his own republic with General Juan José de Flores as president. As in so many other Latin American republics, the struggle for political power between the conservative part of the country was strongly linked to the Catholic Church on the one hand and the liberals on the other. The Conservatives had their strength in the Quito area and the Liberals in Guayaquil. The wealthy landowners had real power after independence, although shorter periods of liberal presidents led to gradual reforms such as the abolition of slavery under José María Urbina (1851–56), full civil rights for Indians under Francisco Robles Garcia (1856–59), and secularization. of church and monastic property under Eloy Alfaro (1896–1901 and 1906–11). With the strong aristocratic dominance of the economy,
Ecuador’s economy has mainly been about one export product at a time. From the end of the 19th century, cocoa was heavily exported. In 1920, cocoa exports accounted for 70% of the country’s total exports, but a combination of diseases on the cocoa trees and the economic crisis at the beginning of the 1930s led to a drastic reduction in production. Uprising among poor Native American workers on the cocoa plantations led to military coup in 1925 and promises of extensive land reform. After the collapse of cocoa production, coffee exports developed into the mainstay of the economy for a short period until Ecuador became the world’s leading banana producer in the 1940s. The market for all three products has mainly been the United States.2 to Peru after a brief war that inflicted heavy losses on Ecuador. Following pressure from the United States, peace was concluded during the Pan-American Conference in Rio de Janeiro in January 1942.
Conservative lawyer José María Velasco Ibarra has made a clear mark on Ecuadorian politics ever since he was first elected as the country’s president. He was elected five times (1934, 1944, 1952, 1960 and 1968) and four times his government was hit by a military coup. Velasco based its strength on a strong personality characterized by popular rhetoric without having a party apparatus behind it. Velasco tried to establish broad populist support comparable to Perón in Argentina and Vargas in Brazil. His ambitious political promises to modernize the country each time led to frustrations and a politically unstable Ecuador. His successor in 1948, Galo Plaza Lasso, strengthened economic ties with the United States and enabled United Fruit Company to make banana production dominant.
When Velasco was again elected in 1952, he tried to strengthen trade with the other Latin American countries, especially Argentina, Brazil and Chile. But when he entered the presidential palace for the fourth time in 1960, political instability was compounded by the effects of the Cuban revolution and the demand by the military authorities for a stronger state power. The military junta that took power in 1963 belonged to the “new military generation” in Latin America who considered the pandemic of communismas their foremost goal. The military government came into conflict with the bourgeoisie as it tried to drastically intervene in economic life. 1966 therefore took over a civilian government and in 1968 Velasco was elected for the last time. In June 1970 he dissolved parliament and gave himself dictatorial power after a long period of violent riots, especially among the students. Velasco’s political career ended in 1972 when the army prevented the impending election with yet another coup.
General Guillermo Rodríguez Lara replaced Velasco as president in 1972. The same year, a major oil pipeline opened and Ecuador became OPEC’s smallest member country. Oil policy and attempts at land reform led to conflicts, and in 1975 Rodríguez had to hand over the presidency to Citizens General Raúl González Alvear, who was himself overthrown in a new coup in 1976. The new junta was led by Deputy Admiral Alfredo Poveda. He promised direct elections even though other members of the military government did their utmost to prove that Ecuador was not ripe for parliamentary democracy. The unions in particular suffered from violent persecution. Poveda’s government also had good relations with Pinochetin Chile. A new constitution was passed by referendum in 1978, which for the first time gave voting rights to illiterates, about 40% of the population. All former candidates were excluded from the subsequent presidential election. It was won by young Christian Democrat Jaime Roldós Aguilera, who raised hopes for a democratization process in Latin America. Roldós immediately established diplomatic relations with Cuba and China and became a popular advocate for the poor. In May 1981, Roldós died in a mysterious plane crash and his Vice President Osvaldo Hurtado Larrea took over the country. In 1980–81, the fighting between Ecuador and Peru flared up again because of the oil deposits in the Amazon. The conflict led to meetings.
Prior to the 1984 election, the Liberal and Conservative Party joined forces in the Front for National Reconstruction (FRN), which won the election with Conservative technocrat León Febres Cordero. But the government coalition was in a significant minority in the National Assembly, which put major obstacles in the way of Febres’ policy. In 1985, Ecuador experienced guerrilla activities for the first time, and the unions organized several major strikes in the Guayaquil area. In March 1986, General Frank Vargas Pazos revolted in Guayaquil in protest of corruption in the Febres government, and to avoid a military coup under the leadership of Defense Minister Luis Piñeiros and Army Chief of Staff, General Manuel Albuja. Febres’ party lost even more seats in the National Assembly in the 1986 election,
Economic and political crisis
The government did not authorize its debt obligations to foreign countries and Febres Cordero had to retire in a troubled mood characterized by corruption charges that hit the president and several members of the government. Social Democrat Rodrigo Borja Cevallos won the 1988 presidential election and took over a bankruptcy estate. The tightening that his government undertook led to widespread strikes and protests. In 1990, the Native American organization CONAIE also went on the brink of extensive protests and loud demands for recognition of its culture and language in a multicultural Ecuadorian community. The Borja government recognized many of the demands, but only minor changes took place. During Borja’s reign, negotiations were also started with the country’s guerrilla organizations. The 1992 election was won by a coalition of opposition parties, and Sixto Durán Ballén became president. He started an optimistic modernization policy based on extensive privatization of state-owned enterprises and rationalization in the state administration. One of the new laws applied to agricultural development and led to further tightening in relation to the Native American population, since the land would henceforth fall to those who could make the most productive. Durán’s government managed to reduceinflation, but on the other hand, corruption became increasingly widespread. Durán’s government was weak and under constant criticism from the opposition. In 1995, there was a military conflict with Peru over a border area that is rich in oil, which for a few hectic months aroused strong national sentiments (see discussion of the conflict during Peru, history). As soon as the conflict was over, the problems returned to Durán’s government, including the vice president having to resign because of corruption charges.
The 1996 election was won by Abdala Bucaram of Partido Roldosista Ecuatoriano; however, he had to retire as early as February 1997, after six months. Ecuador’s deepest political crisis since 1978 was marked by Bucaram’s drastic efforts to introduce liberal economic reforms that particularly affected the poor. The country was hit by strikes and protests. The situation was unclear, and the president was also accused of corruption. Bucaram was deposed and granted political asylum in Panama. The President of Congress, Fabián Alarcón Rivera, was approved by referendum as interim president until a new election could be printed in 1998. During this period, a constitutional assembly drafted a new constitution. The 1998 election was won by Jamil Mahuad Witt of the People’s Democratic Party (DP,Democracia Popular) which gained great popularity in the beginning, including signing a peace agreement with Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori. In 1999, the economic problems escalated, and the Mahuad government became the subject of protests from the same circles that contributed to the withdrawal of Bucaram. In January 2000, Mahuad was deposed by a coup carried out by the military supported by Native American groups. Vice President Gustavo Noboa was appointed head of state.
As part of a package of measures to get the economy back on track, Ecuador exchanged its currency, sucre, with the US dollar that year; inflation was approaching 100% at this point – the highest in the region – while foreign debt accounted for 80% of gross domestic product. During this period, the Native American population also took a risk by getting one of its leaders as a member of the government, the first in history in an ordinary Cabinet post. But the road to a more even distribution was still very long. The Noboa government also met strong demands to use its oil revenues to invest in rural areas; the demonstrations caused all oil production to stop in 2002, and this also repeated in subsequent years. A major cause of the economic downturn throughout the 1990s was precisely the oil dependency in the economy.
The vulnerability is linked to both fluctuations in the international oil price and natural disasters – the El Niño storms caused major damage to the oil installations. Budget cuts and privatization of state industry, according to a recipe from the International Monetary Fund, will strengthen the economy, but will not ease the pressure from the two-thirds of the population that falls below the poverty line.
The leftist Lucio Gutiérrez, former coup leader, won the presidential election in 2002 – the following year his predecessor Gustavo Noboa went into exile in the Dominican Republic following corruption charges. A few years later, the hopes of Gutiérrez’s promises of corruption and social justice were crumbling away. After widespread abuse of power, Gutiérrez was forced to step down in April 2005, and former Vice President Alfredo Palacio took over as president.
The 2006 presidential election was won by Rafael Correa on a program for increased state control of the oil business and a marked shift from a US-oriented course to stronger regional cooperation; The election thus added Ecuador to the left wave and “natural resource nationalism” that now dominated Latin America.
Colombian military actions across the border to Ecuador in 2008, in pursuit of the FARC guerrilla, led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries; The civil war in neighboring countries has given Ecuador the largest refugee share in Latin America. After a long process of considerable political turmoil, Correa’s proposal for a new constitution was anchored in a referendum in the fall of 2008, with 64% yes votes. In addition to increased state influence over the key industry and the central bank, the Constitution should allow expropriationand a more even distribution of land property, multiple social benefits, gay marriage law, termination of a base agreement with the United States, and access for a president to be elected for two four-year terms. An important aim is to strengthen the rights and opportunities of the large, poor majority of the population – including Indians, who have had minimal political influence in the power struggle of the traditional elite in the course of history.
In May 2017, Rafael Correa ended his 10-year term as president of Ecuador, and the position of head of state was taken over by a politician who had previously been vice president in two of his governments, Lenin Moreno.