Ecuador’s written history as we know it today begins with the concentration of early cultures of indigenous peoples throughout coastal areas that supported the majority of inhabitants from as far back as the year 9000 B.C. These early pioneers lived relatively peaceful lives in small clans and large tribes who survived by fishing, hunting, and eventually farming on the region’s fertile land. These wandering tribes eventually settled down into permanent societies including the Valdivia peoples who created intricate ceramic pottery creations, the Quitus peoples (after whom Quito is named) and the Caras who enjoyed considerable power and prestige in the region until the mid 1400’s when the small country was invaded by the Incas of Peru.
The Incas were ruthless in their pursuit of power over Ecuadorian land and many lives were lost defending the area — to no avail. Quechua, an Inca language still widely spoken in Ecuador was introduced to natives at this time and many great buildings and cities were built throughout the region. The Inca empire enjoyed its rule over Ecuador until the mid 1500’s when Spanish forces took the land in yet another series of bloody battles that ultimately led to the total conquering of Ecuadorian peoples. A period of enslavement ensued, and Spanish rulers continued to profit from the work of Ecuadorian citizens until major worldwide financial depressions caused economic downfall in the period between 1700 and 1800.
This collapse allowed for the possibility of native revolt and Ecuadorians from all walks of life banded together to retake the cities once ruled by their ancestors. Ecuador became fully independent in 1830 — but internal power struggles created a period of instability and fear. Democratic leadership and free elections in the 20th century helped to create a more peaceful society that has prospered over time — and tourism quickly became one of the fastest growing industries in this small South American hotspot.