Monday, September 26, 2011

An Exploration of the History of Ecuador

As you might imagine, the history of Ecuador is rather vast and complex as it can be traced back over 9000 years. Before you attend Spanish classes in Ecuador, it is a good idea to learn something about the country's history. As a result, you will have a more enriching experience and get more out of visiting museums and various cultural landmarks. The history of Ecuador is often broken up into 5 periods: the Pre-Columbian period, the Conquest, the Colonial Period, the War of Independence and the Republican Era. Let's take a brief look at these periods to prepare you to learn Spanish in Ecuador.

In Ecuador's Pre-Columbian period, the native peoples were invaded and conquered by the Incas. This conquest began in 1463 under the leadership of Pachacuti Inca Ypanqui. His son Tupa commanded the army and led the takeover. They quickly colonized the region. Of course, many native tribes fought hard to resist the Incas, in particular, the Canari. This Inca Empire was called Tawantinsuyu. The Emperor really liked Quito and made it one of the capitols of Tawantinsuyu.

The next period in Ecuadorian history was the Conquest, as Spanish landed in Ecuador in 1531 and sought to defeat the Incans. In addition to the fighting, disease also played a role in destroying the Incan empire. Although there were far more Incans than Europeans, the Spanish had better weapons and tactics. Due to their technological advantage, the Spanish quickly captured the Incan Emperor.

The Spanish Colonial Era commenced as the Incans were defeated and more and more Spanish colonists arrived. The country was one of Spain's colonies between 1544-1563. The Spanish had a very paternalistic attitude and adopted a system called encomienda so that they could "take care" of the native people. Basically, they divided all the natives up amongst the colonial estates. The Spanish instructed the natives in Spanish and Catholicism. In return, they asked for labor as well as gold. Encomienda was considered to be quite unfair and many viewed it as enslaving the native people of Ecuador. Throughout the 18th century, there was an economic depression in the country. Even the elites became very poor by 1790.

The next historical era was the War of Independence, when those in Spanish-controlled America revolted against colonial rule. Citizens began organizing juntas. In 1811, the Juntas demanded a congress and declared that the area should be free of all governments based in Spain. However, the Viceroyal of Peru stopped this rebellion in 1812. Later in 1820, another junta declared independence. Stronger military forces were organized to support this movement. The natives met with a series of victories in battle. Even after the country was liberated from Spanish rule, they ended up in the middle of a fight between Peru and Gran Colombia over border issues.

The Republic of Ecuador started off with 15 turbulent years that included a great deal of fighting. One of the country's significant leaders from this time period, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, was considered to be Ecuador's best nation builder. He saved the country from falling apart in 1859 and then ruled it with an "iron fist." In the period leading up to 1890, the exports from the country grow tremendously. Since that time, there have continued to be a variety of political upheavals and changes to and from democratic rule.

If you decide to learn Spanish in Ecuador, you will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding for the country's complex history. If you read the newspapers and listen to the radio, you can even gain tremendous insight into the political climate today. It is interesting to note that currently a social democrat is president of the country. When you attend Spanish classes in Ecuador it also makes sense to spend time visiting museums and various historical landmarks.

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