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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 938 reviews)

    Worth every penny!

    As someone who mostly travels independently, the thought of signing up for a two week organized group trip was rather intimidating but after reading all the reviews for Active, I thought I would give it a try... and I am so glad I did! Active Adventures made everything flow effortlessly- from the second I signed up until we were dropped of at the airport. The itinerary for the Condor trip is phenomenal, covering lots of different areas of Southern Patagonia and highlighting the most beautiful places. The W trek was one of the highlights of the trip and was even more enjoyable thanks to our guide, Cem, who was a wealth of knowledge about the flora and fauna and brought such a fun energy to the group. Additionally, our tour leader, Zac, had such a positive spirit, strong sense of humor and passion for his work that showed during our two weeks getting to know him. He was so well organized and made sure everything was lined up so we could relax and enjoy our downtime- including nailing a birthday dinner and cake! Would highly recommend this trip and organization to anyone in the future!
    Laura Postles Review Image
    – Pennsylvania, United States
    Condor, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 938 reviews)

    Latitude 53 degrees and Loving It,

    What a privilege it was to travel to Patagonia with three generations of our family. It is such a beautiful part of the world but also, so removed from the anxieties and pressures of the modern, social media/plugged-in world, and the Trump nastiness. The trekking was especially beautiful with the wild flowers in bloom and sunshine on our shoulders.

    Active Adventures organized us perfectly in the sense that our transportation, refugios, and food were efficiently and tastefully selected. Arturo was so, so nice to our grandkids. Chem was delightful and so kind. What brilliant new friends we made and how kind and inclusive they were with the teenagers we had in tow.

    We loved the ACTIVE in Adventures. We earned our good meals and good beds by stretching our limits over our two week trek. My husband and I were by far the oldest pair on the trail, but we loved it and who knows, maybe we will be back for our 60th anniversary.
    Carolyn Johnson Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.55 out of 5 (from 1341 reviews)

    Galapagos Trip Was Everything I Imagined and More

    This was my second trip with Active Adventures and again they did not disappoint. From the easy booking process, personal attention, and gentle reminders everything runs smoothly from day one.
    Bonnie Wassileff Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tortuga, September 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 938 reviews)

    Patagonia at its Best

    This was a fantastic trip which was well planned with quality places to stay, eat, and view the wonders of Patagonia. The guides were all excellent and knowledgeable making the trip super informative. Other activities such as kayaking, glacier hike, and mountain biking added to the exploration of a very unique and diverse environment. The transportation from locations was very comfortable. The Patagonia of Chile and Argentina was stunning and the organization by Active Adventures created the perfect experience.
    Donna Small Review Image
    – Oregon, United States
    Condor, March 2018
  •   4.50 out of 5 (from 1973 reviews)

    Peru in June 2017

    It is easy to love Peru traveling with Active Adventures! Cynthia was absolutely fantastic, made sure all went smooth and really took care of us. Great memories were made.
    Michele Gerards Review Image
    – New Jersey, United States
    Jaguar 2017, July 2017

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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.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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