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Ecuador takes its name from the equator which passes just north of the capital Quito.
In pre-historic times the land was populated by people arriving from the north, first by coastal migration, then on foot.
Later people also moved in from the East via the Amazon river.
It took the Incas time, blood and even relocations but in 1500 AD most of Ecuador was incorporated in the Inca Empire. Less than 40 years later Pizarro had defeated the Incas and Ecuador was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru within the Spanish Empire. 
The fight for independence started in 1810 and Ecuador became an independent republic in 1830 but internal struggles continued to well into the 20th century.
Relations with neighbor Peru were troubled by a territorial dispute, with occasional military clashes but the conflict was finally settled in 1998.
A new constitution came into force in 2008 and today the country is a democratic republic.
Ecuador's economy is mainly based on petroleum and agriculture.
Most tourists en route to and from the Galapagos Islands spend a couple of days to explore Ecuador.