Evidence of human cultures in Ecuador exists from circa 3500 BC. Many civilizations rose throughout Ecuador, such as the Valdivia Culture and Machalilla Culture on the coast, the Quitus (near present day Quito) and the Cañari (near present day Cuenca). Each civilization developed its own distinctive architecture, pottery, and religious interests, although consolidated under a confederation called the Shyris, until the arrival of the Inca from the South. After years of fiery resistance by the Cañaris and other tribes, as demonstrated by the battle of Yahuarcocha (Blood Lake) where thousands of resistance fighters were killed and thrown in the lake, the region fell to the Incan expansion and was assimilated loosely into the Incan empire.
Through a succession of wars and marriages among the nations that inhabited the valley, the region became part of the Inca Empire in 1463. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived from the north, the Inca Empire was ruled by Huayna Capac, who had two sons: Atahualpa, being in charge of the northern parts of the empire, and Huascar, seated in the Incan capital Cusco. Upon Huayna Capac's death in 1525, the empire was divided in two: Atahualpa received the north, with his capital in Quito; Huascar received the south, with its capital in Cusco. In 1530, Atahualpa defeated Huascar and conquered the entire empire.
On arrival of the conquistadores In 1563, Quito became the seat of a real audiencia (administrative district) of Spain and part of the Vice-Royalty of Lima, and later the Vice-Royalty of Nueva Granada. The local population suffered a drastic decline due to the battles with the Spanish but even more through the diseases brought by the Spanish conquistadores.
Quito the capital is known to have it’s importance from before the time of the Inca but under the Inca turned into the capital of the northern part of the empire. When the Spanish came the city grew slowly but it is supposedly here that on August 10, 1809 (the national holiday) the first call for independence from Spain was made in Latin America ("Primer Grito de la Independencia"). On October 9, 1820, Guayaquil became the first city in Ecuador to gain its independence from Spain. On May 24, 1822, the rest of Ecuador gained its independence after Antonio José de Sucre defeated the Spanish Royalist forces at the Battle of Pichincha, near Quito. Following the battle, Ecuador joined Simón Bolívar's Republic of Gran Colombia - joining with modern day Colombia and Venezuela – only to become a republic in 1830.
The modern history of Ecuador has always been marked by the rapid succession of leaders and rulers some non democratic elected ones. Other marks in the modern history of Ecuador are the long-lasting border dispute with Peru during which Peru in the end was favored and periods of recession and popular unrest that led to a return to populist politics and domestic military interventions in the 1960s.
The last couple of years have been marked by the election of Rafael Correa as president and his ties to Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela and the main face of the Bolivarian Revolution. Under his presidency the relationships with neighboring countries have not been at best seeing the incursion of the Colombian army to destroy a military base of the FARC, the Colombian guerrilla and a recent dispute with Peru over international waters. In 2010 Correa survived a supposed coupe d’état and came out with relatively high popularity figures.