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The Republic of Ecuador takes its name from the equator which passes just north of the capital Quito.
By 13.000 BP Paleo Indians were already present in the region and later the Las Vegas culture developed in coastal regions. They were one of the first in South America to adopt agriculture and cultivate squash and maize.
When the Incas showed up in the 15th century, Ecuador was home to a multitude of complex and diverse societies like the Quitu-Cara at the present-day capital Quito.
It took the Incas decades, rivers of blood and massive relocations, but by 1500 AD most regions of Ecuador were incorporated in the Inca Empire.
Less than 40 years later Pizarro had tricked and defeated the internally divided Incas and Ecuador became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, within the Spanish Empire. 
Ecuador became an independent republic in 1830 but internal struggles continued 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 since then the country is a democratic republic.
Today Ecuador is one of South America's poorer countries with an economy mainly based on petroleum and export of bananas and shrimps. 
Most tourists en route to and from the Galapagos Islands spend a couple of days in Ecuador to visit the Otavalo market and the Cotopaxi National Park.