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Ecuador & Galapagos Islands History

  • ecuador vacation
  • Ancient sculpture in Amazonian bazin of Ecuador
  • Ecuadorian steam locomotive in cimbacalle trains museum
  • Cathedral de Quito
  • Virgin de Quito statue in Ecuador
  • Santo Domingo church was built in the 17th century
  • Staircase and Inca ruins in Ingapirca

The Valdivia was the first of Ecuador’s permanent settlers who expanded along the Santa Elena Peninsula roughly 6,000 years ago. Over the centuries, other groups developed including the Bahía, the Jama-Coaque and the Guangala and by 600 BC, these early societies had become more stratified. By 800 AD, Ecuador’s people had grown into larger and more hierarchal societies. One of the most important cultures in the country was the Cañari which inhabited the southern part of the country. It was the Cañari that the Incas encountered when they began expanding north during the mid-15th century. 

The first Europeans to come to Ecuador arrived from Peru beginning in the 1530s and quickly set about conquering the Inca kingdom. The Spanish conquistadors established settlements in the country yet faced no major uprisings from the indigenous populations. For the first centuries of colonialism, Ecuador served as a province of Peru and its political administration was based in Lima. A relatively peaceful colony, the people of Ecuador focussed on agriculture and art and a new artistic style, a fusion of Spanish and Amerindian influences emerged.

As was the case in many colonies, the colonists prospered while the local populations, as well as Mestizos (people who were of mixed Spanish and indigenous descent), received poor treatment. Forced labour became the order of the day resulting in many uprisings. To counter such unrest, the Spanish ruling elite opted to bring in slaves from Africa to work the cocoa and sugar plantains and the African influence is still felt today.

Spanish rule in Ecuador lasted until the 19th century when in 1822, Simón Bolívar overthrew the colonists. The years after independence were characterized by political warfare between Liberals and Conservatives. Throughout the 20th century, power shifts in Ecuador were constant and the country experienced almost as many militaries as civilian periods of rule.  However, where Ecuador differs from other Latin American countries in the fact that it never saw the bloodshed or brutal dictatorships that its neighbours experienced. The decade between 1930 to 1940 was one of particular political upheaval as seventeen different presidents attempted to lead the country, none of which completed his term. The Discovery of oil in the 1970s should have signaled a great deal of prosperity for the country, instead, the wealth was largely squandered and the lives of the average Ecuadorian remained unchanged.

In 1979, Ecuador’s most recent period of democracy occurred when President Jaime Roldós Aguilera was elected. However, the following decades endured power shifts between the left and the right which continued into the new century. In 2013, an unprecedented event in the country’s history occurred when President Rafael Correa was sworn in for a third term. Correa has remained popular amongst the people of Ecuador and his administration has succeeded in reducing the high levels of poverty in the country as well as reducing unemployment.

Despite being one of the smaller countries in Latin America, Ecuador is a tourism hub and remains increasingly popular amongst eco-tourists. The immense geographical and biological variety and diversity present in the country, coupled with good infrastructure makes it a must-see destination. Its small size means visitors have the opportunity to easily experience all the country has to offer from UNESCO World Heritage Sites and cultural hotspots to the world-class and world-famous wildlife destination, the Galapagos Islands.



Ecuador Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Ecuador.

Learn about the history and culture of Ecuador, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Ecuador's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Ecuador for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Ecuador tours today!


Extend Your Trip

After your Ecuador vacation packages, why not consider another of Goway's Latin America tours. These include a large selection of other exciting countries in Central and South America. We offer Chile vacation packages and Easter Island toursPeru vacation packages which include Machu Picchu tours and Brazil tours including Iguassu Falls tours among many others.



Book your Ecuador tour with Goway! 

LATIN AMERICA by Goway is an exclusive division that specializes in planning and organizing Ecuador tours and experiences. Choose from a simple city stopover,  a cruise to the Galapagos Islands, a Holiday of a Lifetime tour, a small group tour and much more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to Ecuador.

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