Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro invaded Ecuador, original site of the Inca Empire, in 1532, and gained dominion over it in two years. In 1822, the colonists revolted and Ecuador became a free territory and part of Gran Colombia. Eight years later, this territory became independent from Gran Colombia under the name of Ecuador.
Since its independence, Ecuador has been governed by a mixture of civil and military regimes; however, civil governments have predominated in recent years.
Ecuador exports several products, such as shrimp, tuna, roses, bananas and coconut. Nevertheless, Ecuador bases its economy on oil exportation. The economic growth of the country depends on oil prices in the International Market.
In 1972, Ecuador began to export oil from fields exploited by North American and European companies. Oil production has helped the economy. However, only 10 percent of revenue is used for social investments, such as education or medical care. The majority goes to pay for the country's external debt.
Even though the constitutional presidents are elected for a four-year term, corruption scandals, political negotiations, juridical insecurity, and social unrest have caused disturbance in Ecuador. Although Ecuador marked 30 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period was marred by political instability. In late 2008, voters approved a new constitution (amended in 2011), Ecuador's 20th since gaining independence.
Source: The World Factbook, 2014.