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State

Capital

Ecuador

Quito

Currency unit

US$

Connections

Peru

Serfdom

South America

Sovereignty

 Spain Empire

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

The Spaniards arrived in 1532 when the conqueror of Peru, Pizarro landed. They found a variety of native peoples. These were divided between the coastal people and those of the highland of the Andes. The Southern upland part of the country was part of the Empire of the Incas who had conquered a kingdom of the local people, the Caras. The language of the Incas, Quechua is still spoken in the area. The languages and cultures of the coastal peoples are said to be extinct as the peoples were either killed or absorbed into the mixed population with the colonists and their African slaves.

The Spaniards arrived at a time when the succession to the Inca Empire had been disputed in a civil war which had just ended. The new king, based on Quito, had not yet consolidated his power. The Spaniards based themselves in Quito the capital of the northern part of the Inca empire and at once established a feudal system of semi-slavery based partly on their own society in Spain and also on the Inca system. Thus the original inhabitants worked on the estates of the new rulers. The Spaniards introduced horses, cattle and other European animals. Quito was organized as a province of Spain subordinate to Lima in Peru. Independence from Spain was achieved in 1822. Until 1830 it was part of Greater Colombia with Venezuela and Colombia but throughout this period was in a state of revolt.

Independence on its own began in 1830. Throughout the 19th century there was political disturbance with numerous disputed presidencies. There were wars with Colombia and Peru over the ownership of land in the Amazonian area (about the same size as the present country). The borders were only settled in 1942 after the latest war with Peru which invaded and took part of Amazonia. Even then the actual delineation was not complete and Ecuador repudiated the agreement in 1960. War broke out unexpectedly in January 1994, probably because of oil deposits on the Peruvian side.

The present population is a mixture: Spanish speakers are about 15% of the population. These control the state. 60% speak Amerindian languages. These live mainly in the rural areas. This suggests a revival of Indian culture and political influence is possible and one can foresee a development by which the rural people come to dispute control with the urban people, as happened in Czechoslovakia in the late 19th century and as may be happening in Peru and Bolivia.

Languages

Spanish

Amerindian langs.

 History

 Economics

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Politics

There is a division among the Spanish speakers between the coast and the plateau. Guayaquil is a port city with contacts to the outside world. Here a business minded culture predominates. In Quito on the other hand the influence of the estate-owning aristocracy remains strong. The military have intervened in politics on many occasions and own an industrial complex, giving them a measure of autonomous power. At present there is an elected government, but there are questions about whether it represents the non-Spanish speakers' interests. In the long run the main source of instability, or potential change, must be in the wishes of the non-Spanish speakers. Thus Ecuador is typical of many former colonial countries and is comparable perhaps to Liberia or Mozambique where the government continues to be dominated by the cultural descendants of the colonizers.

A recent president was born in the United States and educated at Harvard. The 1992 election resulted in a peaceful handover of power from a social democrat to a conservative. However, high inflation and conservative economic policies (monetarism) may increase political instability if there are rises in unemployment and poverty (as in Peru).

An eccentric former mayor of Guayaquil was elected and then deposed by Congress on the grounds of insanity - actually extreme eccentricity and corruption.

His successor was also dismissed after an Indian protest against his proposed adoption of the US$ as national currency.

Ecuador may be an example of the lack of sovereignty of most small states in Latin America. They can elect a socialist president but the US will not allow them to carry out policies, such as nationalisation of the oil industry. See Perkins

In 2002 Ecuadorians elected an indigenous leader Lucio Gutierrez as president on a socialist platform. It was soon explained to him by the real power in the country that he would not be allowed to carry out his policy of nationalising the oil industry on pain of being deposed by a military coup or other methods that have been employed by agents of the US government. He reversed his policies and in 2004 was removed by a popular uprising.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Has enough oil to make a difference to the balance of payments but not enough to make Ecuador wealthy.

Oil was discovered in the Amazon basin at the time of the first oil shock: exports began in 1972. The wealth was used to build military industries, followed by a military takeover. Little of it went on planning for general economic benefit. When the oil price fell there was nothing left. Reserves are falling and oil imports are expected to exceed exports by 2010. The mass of people are as poor as before oil was found.

Bananas and giant shrimps are the main non-oil exports. Both are under pressure: shrimps from over exploitation; bananas from European preference in favor of the Caribbean.

The US dollar has been adopted as the national currency. Will this cause a similar collapse to that in Argentina?

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Indigenous peoples have been granted land rights in some provinces. But oil industry is polluting the forests where the oilfields are.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Climate effects

Last revised 4/04/08


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