Pre Inca Period
The first inhabitants in Ecuador lived off the land; hunting, fishing and gathering fruits. Agriculture became stronger during the mid formative period, and by the end of it, the economy had become entirely based on agriculture. As agriculture developed, urbanization began expanding up until 1500 BC when agriculture reached a peak, urbanization spread at unprecedented rates, and society turned more complex.
The Inca Empire started expanding through the Andes under the leadership of Tupac Yupanqui. When Tupac Yupanqui dies, his son Huayna Capac, sets off on a mission of expansion to continue and honor his father’s legacy. After 40 years of expansion, Huayna Capac dies and the Tahuantinsuyo is divided between his two sons: Atahualpa and Huascar.
But wait… what is Tahuantinsuyo? Founded in the XXII century by a tribe of Quichua speaking people derived from the region of Lake Titicaca (between Perú and Bolivia), the Tahuantinsuyo was the territory of the Inca Empire. The land conquered spread to what we now know as Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, the south of Colombia and the north of Chile and Argentina. While Manco Capac was the founder, and the empire was greatly enlarged by Pachacutec Yupanqui, Tahuantinsuyo’s greatest splendor came during the governance of Tupac Yupanqui and his son Huayna Capac- who extended it from the north of Quito to the north of modern day Chile. At the time, the territory spread for almost 2 million km2s and had 10 million inhabitants. The empire was composed of several ethnicities, cultures, languages, customs and had an economy based on the land. Then, in 1532, Atahualpa was captured by the Spaniards.
Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro led the conquest, hoping to bring back riches and serve the crown. The Incas fought against Spanish forces, resisting their attacks. The battle was bloody and violent, and internal confrontations between the Incas were being manipulated by Spanish exhorters. Religious conversion also created conflict, and diseases brought overseas resulted in the death of natives who had not been exposed to the virus before. The Spanish intimidated Incas and took advantage of their naiveness.
Did you know? The natives had never seen horses before, so when introduced to these magical four legged animals, they thought the Spaniards had to be gods.
The fall of the Inca Empire came with a wave of slavery, violations, christianity, and torture. By 1934, the Spanish had taken Quito and defeated the Incas, who were left weak. Some natives escaped to the lowlands and the coast, where they remained unconquered. The Spanish established colonial rule after decades of friction within Almagro and Pizarro, who was later executed by Almagro’s followers. After other shifts in power, the conquistadors remained powerful for about two and a half centuries of a more established colonial rule.
The economic downturn of Spain, along with the flourishing of new ideals and movements striving for independence throughout Latin America, brought about a resistance towards Spanish rule. Social decadence, the end of silver extracted in Potosi, a decline in textiles and reforms that limited private ownership and therefore the power of the elites, contributed to a revolution. The war between South American countries and the Spanish administration, culminated in Ecuador on May 24,1822 with the Battle of Pichincha. After two years of war, this victory meant the independence of the Royal Audience of Quito.
Along with Venezuela and Colombia, Ecuador becomes a part of “La Gran Colombia.” La Gran Colombia, was an association that did not last long, due to personal ambitions that arose from the integration of these main cities.
After Gran Colombia fell apart, the new Republic of Ecuador was established in 1830.