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History

The eight significant periods of Ecuador’s history, which was inhabited by several independent peoples until the 15th century:

Inca period

After the Incas began to expand from Peru to the north from 1200 B.C., their 14th ruler finally defeated the Quitu around 1475, which then also meant the largest expansion of the Inca Empire with two million square kilometers (about 5 times today’s Germany).

Colonization

Around 1531, European sailors conquered the Inca Empire and thus also subjugated Ecuador, which in 1563, as Audiencia with Quito, was annexed to the viceroyalty of Peru. Until 1830 Ecuador was a Spanish colony and as such experienced all shades of colonization.

War of Independence

Between 1810 and 1830, Ecuador was at war of independence with Great Colombia and then became an independent state.

19th century

In the mid-19th century, the country was marked by internal squabbles between the conservative forces of the Sierra and the more liberal inhabitants of the Costa, who were mainly inspired by the economic consequences of the virtually booming cacao export. Also in this century, the Ecuadorians took possession of the Galapagos Islands, which had been discovered and annexed by the Spanish in 1535.

World Economic Crisis

From 1925 to 1947, political chaos prevailed in connection with the world economic crisis and the resulting collapse of the cacao industry.

Upturn

From 1947 to the early 1960s, the economic upswing began with the unbeatable success of banana cultivation and the first signs of industrialization.

Since 1973, oil production has played a central role in determining the country’s economic and political stability. In the 20th century, Ecuador went through numerous processes under several presidencies, which continue to have an effect to this day. One of the first was the enforcement of religious freedom and the strict separation of church and state, and a start was made on expanding the road and railroad network.

Economy

Facts & Figures

Republic of Ecuador

(República del Ecuador): located on the northwest coast of South America, Andean country on the equator, independent from Spain since 1822, from Great Colombia since May 13, 1830

National languages

Spanish, indigenous languages (Quichua and Shuar)

Area

256,370 sqkm; incl. Galápagos Islands

Population

Capital Quito 2.6 million inhabitants; Ecuador total population 17.6 million (2020); of which approx. 65% are mestizos, 25% indigenous, 7% of European origin and 3% Afro-Ecuadorians. Population growth approx. 1.5%.

Gross National Product in USD

105.5 billion (2018)

Pro-Kopf-BIP in USD

6’184 (2019)

Head of State

Lenín Moreno (Alianza País), since 24.05.2017, elected for a 4-year term. His predecessor was Rafael Correa (2007 – 2017, Alianza País).

Head of Government

Head of State as Chairman of the Council of Ministers

Form of State/Government

 Presidential democracy with a unicameral parliament (“Asamblea Nacional”) based on the 2008 constitution.

 

Government party

Alianza País

Administrative structure of the country

24 provinces, each divided into cantons

Religions, Churches

Roman Catholic Church (about 85% of the population), Protestants, Jews, followers of natural religions

Membership in international organizations

 United Nations and specialized agencies, Organization of American States (OAS), Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, chaired 2015/2016), Andean Community, G-77, Inter-American Development Bank (BID), WTO, Rio Group (since 1990), OPEC (again since November 2007), Union of South American Nations (UNASUR, based in Quito), Bolivarian Alliance for America (ALBA), Mercosur (associated), Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), Latin American Economic System (SELA)

Culture

A propósito Ecuador, a country of cultural diversity!

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South America's largest handicraft market in Otavalo - colorful and inspiring

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Panama hats" - come from Ecuador and have been woven from the leaves of the native Toquilla palm for centuries

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Bamboo flute and percussion instruments - the traditional music of the Andes

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Colonial buildings in historic cities like Cuenca or Quito - Quito's old town was declared the first UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 1978

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Train ride to the Devil's Nose - a masterpiece of engineering of the time

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Surfing and dancing to South American rhythms - joie de vivre on the coast

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Ethnic diversity - rainforest areas where some indigenous people still live in desired isolation.

Is that all? No, Ecuador offers much more! The culture of each region has been shaped by its history and its population. Depending on the geographical location, in some places economic influences have been more formative and in other places ethnic influences. Thus, the mentalities of the Creole extraverted Costeños (coastal dwellers) differ from the more conservative Serranos (highland dwellers) or the more quiet Colonos (mestizo settlers) in the east of the country, whose settlement in the 1960s was promoted by the government as a mixture of Spaniards and Indígenas (indigenous population). Dispersed over large territories, different tribes of indigenous people like the Huaorani, Shuar or Achuar still live in the rainforest area.

Since 1998, the constitution has taken this fact into account by defining Ecuador as a multi-ethnic and pluricultural state that recognizes the collective rights of indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian groups. As colorful as the population is, as richly shaped are the manners, rituals and customs that are allowed to continue everywhere. Catholicism, which was declared the state religion in colonial times, is still practiced by over 85% of the population (including the majority of indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorianos).

Nature

The Ecuadorian nature reflects a surprising variety of conditions to first-time visitors. First of all, the weather and regional or topographically determined climatic characteristics. Not all people when being in the capital Quito, located at 2850 m, take climbing stairs as easy as at home.
The country of volcanoes, of 55 volcanoes, 18 are still classified as active. Even though Cotopaxi (5897 m), Guagua Pichincha (4778 m) and Tunghurahua (5023 m) are classified as dangerous, visitors and locals rely on active monitoring, which should allow time for an appropriate reaction. The highest volcano is the Chimborazo with an impressive 6310 m height.

The Andes divide the country into different characteristic regions. The beauty of the remaining large areas of tropical rainforest, cloud forests and other unique regions is not by chance in the focus of global environmental interest. After all, Ecuador is considered one of the most species-rich countries in the world in terms of flora and fauna, with an above-average number of species in relation to the size of the country. Tapirs, condors, pumas, spectacled bears as well as numerous species of monkeys, birds and butterflies still find valuable habitat in Ecuador.

Of course, Ecuador’s nature cannot be mentioned without referring to the Galápagos Islands, which in turn was crowned by UNESCO in 1978 as the first Natural Heritage Site. For the state this means a serious obligation and at the same time an enormous challenge to never put economic interests above ecological responsibility.