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A Short History of Ecuador

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The tribes in the northern highlands of Ecuador formed the Kingdom of Quito around 1000. Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro conquered the land in 1532, and through the 17th century a Spanish colony thrived. In 1819, Ecuador joined Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama in a confederacy known as Greater Colombia. When Greater Colombia collapsed in 1830, Ecuador became independent. 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.

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