Ancient Quito and the Arrival of Incas
Quito was first inhabited when nomadic tribes called ‘Quitu’ first settled in the region in hunt for food and shelter. Over time, being a fertile region it developed into a key commercial and economic centre, then known as ‘Tianguez’. It became an important connecting point for traders of the surrounding regions, especially in northern Andes.
Later on the ‘Quitu’ tribe lost to the ‘Caras’ tribe who laid the foundation of the Kingdom of Quito in 980 A.D. When the Incas arrived from Peru, they took over Quito in 1462. Quito was the chief administrative region for Incas to control the northern part of their empire. The city lost an important part of its history when in 1533 Rumiñahui an Inca General, burnt the whole city, to prevent the Spanish from taking over the city.
Rule of the Spanish Empire
The Spanish were travellers and constantly in search for new lands to extend their territories. By the time they reached Quito, Rumiñahui had burnt the whole city, leaving only a devastated piece of land to the Spaniards, who built the whole region once again. In the month of August 1534 under the rule of Diego de Almagro the Spanish formally established the city of San Francisco de Quito and developed it both economically and culturally as one of the richest cities in South America. Sebastián de Benalcázar captured Rumiñahui who was later executed to death on January 10, 1535. Officially present name of the city was announced on March 14, 1541 as Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de San Francisco de Quito ("Very Noble and Loyal City of San Francisco of Quito"). It became the administrative district of Spain and part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Christianity was introduced in the region with the construction of the first church El Belén. About 20 churches were built during the colonial period. The native Quito’s were oppressed and used as slaves in laborious work during Colonial rule. In 1545 the status of the city was promoted from Diocese of Quito to Archdiocese of Quito.
Independence from Spain
The oppression from Spanish rulers led to revolt from native Quito people. On August 10, 1809 a movement was started against the Spanish Empire in name of the city’s independence. The Quito’s residents formed their own government with Juan Pío Montúfar as President. But this movement was short lived with the Spaniards arriving from Peru and killing all the government dignitaries along with the inhabitants. Even if this movement was not successful, it led to a series of clashes with the Spanish, which concluded on May 24, 1822 when in the Battle of Pichincha, under the command of Simón Bolívar, Quito achieved its independence.
Attachment to Gran Colombia
When Quito achieved independence, on June 24, 1822 the city got annexed to the Republic of Gran Colombia under the leadership of Simón Bolívar. When the Republic of Gran Colombia got dissolved in 1830, Republic of Ecuador was formed of which Quito became the capital.
In 1833, members of the Society of Free Inhabitants of Quito conspired against the government for which they were assassinated by the government. In the following two years the Marcist Revolution began which gave birth to an unsettled Quito, a situation which exists even today. Revolts and dictatorships followed; it had 48 presidents during the first 131 years of the republic.
In 1941, Peru invaded Ecuador and seized a large tract of Ecuadorian territory in the disputed Amazon region. In 1981 and 1995 war broke out again. In May 1999, Ecuador and Peru signed a treaty ending the nearly 60 year border dispute.
In Jan 2000, President Jamil Mahuad was overthrown in the first military coup in Latin America in a decade. The junta gave power to the vice president, Gustavo Noboa. Lucio Gutiérrez, a leftist colonel responsible in the 2000 coup, was elected to the presidency in 2003. In April 2005, Gutiérrez was ousted by the Ecuadorian Congress; Alfredo Palacio took over as president. In 2006, Rafael Correa, a left-wing economist, won with 56.7% of the vote, defeating conservative businessman Alvaro Noboa. Correa took office in January 2007.
In March 2008, Colombian forces crossed into Ecuadorian territory and killed FARC rebel leader, Raúl Reyes, and 20 other rebels. In April 2008, the defense minister resigned without explanation and 4 top military commanders left their positions after President Rafael Correa accused the army of aiding the United States against FARC. President Rafael Correa expelled more than 100 American military members. In September 2008, in an attempt to create more stability in Ecuador, 64% of voters approved a new constitution that increased presidential powers, allowing Correa to run for 2 more consecutive terms.
Despite this history of intense internal rivalry and border conflicts, Ecuador has remained peaceful in recent years and is, at present, one of the safest countries to visit in South America.