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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

  •   4.55 out of 5 (from 1341 reviews)

    Best trip ever!

    Wonderful 30th anniversary trip to the Galapagos -- so glad we were able to explore these amazing islands. A true adventure for two biology majors! We really got a sense of the strong environmental preservation efforts underway there, and were in awe of the amazing land and sea creatures we encountered. Plus a terrific local guide and fun group of co-travelers made this a trip of a lifetime!
    Shirley Kring Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Tortuga, March 2017
  •   4.55 out of 5 (from 1341 reviews)

    Incredible experience

    We had an amazing time in the Galapagos!
    Everything was perfectly organized for us. All we had to do was show up - just as it said in the description of the tour.
    Our tour guide Zambo would always tell us well in advance what we would be doing on the next day, what we had to bring, what we should wear.
    The food was always organized for us; they would always ask us beforehand what we wanted to eat.
    Everywhere we went they were expecting us and everything went smoothly.
    Zambo was an amazing guide! He was extremely knowledgeable. He had an answer for everything and he was very patient with our kids. One could see that he enjoyed showing his home to us.
    The encounters with the animals were truly amazing. We saw blue footed boobies, frigate birds, hammerhead sharks, eagle rays, sting rays, penguins, hundreds of sea lions, sea iguanas, etc.
    The animals seemed at ease with the humans around them in some cases almost curious.
    Pirko Hamer Review Image
    – Sai Kung, Hong Kong
    Tortuga, April 2017
  •   4.48 out of 5 (from 82 reviews)

    A stellar bucket list trip with outstanding guides. The Peru part of our trip was complicated by a local strike causing havoc with our original itinerary but Zac and the Active Adventures folks were amazing in rearranging the itinerary, lodging, meals, etc. Pepo was super in the Galagagos. Both parts of the trip were great fun and very professionally run. Very active but doable for four of us in our 60's.
    Jim Miller Review Image
    – Illinois, United States
    Iguana, October 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 943 reviews)

    Better Than I Imagined!

    Visiting Patagonia was a dream of mine, forever and this amazing trip was better than I could have possibly imagined! Everything was perfect and I can't wait to travel with Active Adventures again!
    Laura Goldner Review Image
    – New Hampshire, United States
    Condor, March 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 943 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

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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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