History of Ecuador & Facts

If you're planning an Ecuador holiday, you'll be visiting the smallest country in the rugged Andean highlands and one of the most rewarding travel destinations in South America. Ecuador travel is full of surprises - with its array of vibrant indigenous cultures, well preserved colonial architecture, otherworldly volcanic landscapes and dense rainforest, Ecuador packs its perimeters with more points of interest than many countries twice its size. When you touch down in its picture-perfect capital, Quito, at the start of your Ecuador trip, you are no more than a day's drive from a slog through all-swallowing Amazonian jungle, a snow swept ascent of an active volcano, a sociable haggle with indigenous artesanos or a welcome wallow on a tropical beach. And all that in a nation no bigger than the US state of Nevada.

Brief History of Ecuador

A rich and diverse mosaic of ancient cultures is the foundation of Ecuador's national identity today. Archaeological facts have been found in the area dating back to 10,000 BC, and many cultures are thought to have evolved here between 500 BC and 500 AD. The Incas captured Quito in 1492 but the centre of the Inca Empire in Cuzco, Peru and Quito, Ecuador, would soon be divided again when civil war breaks out. Until Pizarro, one of the Spanish invaders, took over Quito in 1534 and Ecuador remained under Spanish rule for almost 300 years.

The indigenous people became slaves to Spanish landowners and this feudal system largely survived until land reforms in 1964. Ecuadorian independence was won in several stages beginning in 1809. By the late 1800s, the Radical Liberals reduced the power of the church - one of the strong legacies of Spanish rule - in an effort to modernize Ecuador. After a long period of political instability, Ecuador entered another period of economic expansion based on banana export. Military rule followed and finally Ecuador returned to democracy in 1979. Also during the 70s, Ecuador transformed from an essentially agricultural economy to a predominantly petroleum-based economy.

Ecuador Facts

Full country name: Republic of Ecuador
Area: 283,520 sq km (175,780 sq mi)
Population: 12,920,092 (growth rate: 2.1%)
Capital city: Quito (pop 1.5 million)
People: 40% mestizo, 40% Indian, 15% Spanish descent, 5% African descent
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Quichua, other indigenous languages
Religion: Over 90% Roman Catholic, small minority of other Christian denominations
Government: Democracy
GDP per head: US$4,800
Major industries: Oil, bananas, shrimp, fish, coffee, textiles, metal work, paper products, wood products, chemicals, plastics, fishing, lumber
Major trading partners: US, South America, EU, Asia, Caribbean

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Planning an Ecuador vacation? Check out our 7-day Ecuador adventure vacation.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Active is the Word!

    I thoroughly enjoyed my Condor adventure. I've been on a few of these hosted by other companies and I think Active Adventures is the best so far - a good value too. When you say all-inclusive, you mean it. We often ordered whatever we wanted right off the menu. Arturo and the other guides did a great job. The itinerary was excellent - I know because a few times we barely made the connection to a boat. There was little down time. Doing the W Hike in the first week is also key - We were fresh and ready then. The weather on our trip was not ideal. We totally missed seeing Fitz Roy, despite 4 days in El Chalten. Oh well. Mother Nature didn't cooperate. The only thing that would've made the trip better would be better accommodations at some of the refugios. I know you can't control this and there's not a lot of choice, but, boy, some of those shower facilities and bathrooms were just awful. I'm looking forward to hiking with you guys again soon. :)
    Henry Gorecki Review Image
    – Illinois, United States
    Condor, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Wonderful Trip

    Terrific Trip!! Beautiful Country! Terrific Organization! Wonderful Guides! Great Food! I was very impressed with Cynthia and Puma and all the others that contributed to making this kind of trip possible. It is a sign of a well run organization when it values and hires such terrific people. They took very good care of us, were extremely well educated, and were very easy to get along with not to mention patient and fun. The Inca Trail views were absolutely breath taking but this really was a very well rounded trip. I enjoyed the cities of Cuzco and Puno, the trip to Porto Maldonado and the jungle with the extremely interesting hotel, and Lake Titicaca with our trips to a couple of the islands and stay with one of the families. Our tour of Lima was a great way to finish off our trip. One more thing-the food was absolutely the best. I have never eaten that well.
    Edward Olson Review Image
    – Minnesota, United States
    Jaguar 2017, August 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Fantabulous

    A simply amazing trip-- pristine scenery, magical and majestic mountains, and all coordinated seamlessly by a fantastic trip leader and guides. Our family of seven-- spanning the ages of 78 to 12-- was perfectly supported, educated, and delighted by Arturo our trip leader and the local guides. They are all kind, fun, and experienced. Cem was true to his name, a gem, ever so patient with those of us with sore joints, and always with a sparkle or story to share.
    Krista Toomre Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Fantastic trip

    This was my first hiking trip, and I must say it was fantastic!!! Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been (and I travel a lot). I want to mention that you have to be in reasonably good physical condition to enjoy this trip. I am glad that I trained for it. Arturo, our tour guide and Catherine (the W Trail guide) were excellent. They also made sure that they accommodated my dietary requirements (gluten, diary, and soy free) on the W Trail, which is not an easy task. I enjoyed every moment of the trip. I will definitely book another trip with Active Adventures, now that I know how much I enjoy hiking and active trips.
    Simona Walsh Review Image
    – Pennsylvania, United States
    Condor, August 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

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