To understand Guayaquil, you
first have to know a little about her history and background. Guayaquil was
first founded in 1534 by Moyano de Benalcázar, and then it was moved with the
name of "Santiago" the 25th of July, 1535. Then came the Huancavilca
indians (PC people would say "Native Guayaquileños", but they weren't
native Guayaquileños, Guayaquil isn't a place, it's a state of mind) and gave
the first Guayacos "chicharrón" (they killed everyone and
burned down the city). After that, the city was rebuilt and burned again 2 times
in 1536, and finally on July 25th 1537 (Santiago's day), when Francisco de
Orellana (also called one-eyed Orellana) founded for the last time the "Muy
Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de Guayaquil" (Very noble and very
loyal city of Santiago of Guayaquil) at the site called El Cerrito Verde (today
"Las Peñas") beside the Guayas river. Part of the indians where
killed, but the other part got tired of fighting these stubborn newcomers and
decided to go along with them. This was no "güebada" (joke),
since this Huancavilca guys (and other indians from the neighborhood like the
Punaes), had resisted invaders like the Incas for years and never surrendered to
During her colonial history, Guayaquil had to fight every day with a lot of problems. There was little drinking water (the Guayas river is salty most of the year), Pirates came every couple of years to attack (did you know Robinson Crusoe became a Pirate after he was rescued from Chile's Juan Fernandez Island and attacked Guayaquil?), Plagues, Heavy rains, floods, bugs, and the worst: FIRE (since there was little stone around Guayaquil, all of the houses where made of wood). Except Las Peñas, Guayaquil was lowlands, and is between the River and the "Estero Salado", and since there is little stone around here, they couldn't make the land any higher, right?, WRONG. People started eating a lot of black clam (concha prieta) and mangrove oyster, and used the shells to fill the land. Since both mollusks are highly aphrodisiac, the population grew rapidly. In 1537 there where 150 people, in 1600: 2,000; in 1693 : 5,000; in 1734: 11,000; in 1765: 13,000; in 1805:14,000; in 1814: 15,000; in 1820: 20,000; 1842: 23,000; 1857: 25,000; 1880: 36,000; 1890: 44,792; 1899: 80,000, 1920: 100,000,1930: 150,000; 1944: 200,000 and so on......, Today, Guayaquil has about 3.5 million people.
Guayaquil was a prosperous city, based on commerce, building ships and agriculture. In the early 1800's, all over Latin America people started to get tired of the Spanish rule. On October 9 1820, The Guayaquileños decided to declare independence, so the Guayaquilian People ALL BY THEMSELVES (1,500 Ecuadorian soldiers and the civilian people) declared "Guayaquil Independiente", (Independent Guayaquil), that included all the coastal Ecuador from El Oro to Esmeraldas. It was the very first independent state in what now is Ecuador. Every thing was fine, and the Guayaquil army went to fight with the rest of Ecuador.
When all of South America
was free, San Martin (Liberator of the southern part of South America) and Simon
Bolivar (Liberator of the Northern part of South America, but NOT OF
GUAYAQUIL), decided to meet in Guayaquil (in
the middle of S.A.) to decide the politics after liberation. Guayaquil was
Independent (with Manabi Esmeraldas, Los Rios, and El Oro), but they had to
decide if they wanted to stay that way, or if they wanted to join Quito and
Cuenca, the other 2 states of Real Audiencia de Quito (today Ecuador), or if
they wanted to join the people from the North (Bolivar's
"grancolombia") or the South. In 1822 that RAT, Bolivar came
before San Martin, with 5,000 soldiers (remember there were only 1,500 Guayaquil
soldiers in 1820 and many died fighting in those years). When he arrived at
Guayaquil, he lowered the Guayaquil Flag to lift his "grancolombia"
flag, the Guayaquileños didn't allow that and threw his rag into the river and
lifted again the Pabellón de Octubre (Guayaquil's Flag). It was decided that
Guayaquil should vote to see what they wanted to do. And when the Guayaquileños
were going to vote, that RAT made all his soldiers vote also. That is how
Guayaquil (and all of Ecuador) got screwed over and became part of the
"grancolombia". The problem wasn't that we didn't want to fight, if we
knew they were just another pirate invasion, we would have fought them as we
always had. But no, we thought of them as brothers. and the problem of us is
that we are very up front on doing things... so that coward of Bolivar screwed
When Ecuador became a Free country at last, Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca joined together as Ecuador (today these 3 states are divided into several provincias that make up Ecuador).
Although not the capital,
Guayaquil has always been the main city and commercial/financial center of
Ecuador. In this century, Cocoa, Coffee, Banana and Shrimp has given her
prosperity. Also as a port, it handles most of Ecuador's imports and exports.
Guayaquil has received a lot of people from outside (both from other places of Ecuador and from other countries), but unlike other places where they come and stay separated, here they came, mixed, and stayed on as Guayaquileños. A curious thing to give an example, is that here on the coast, (unlike in the sierra or mountains) no one thinks of the native people as indians (not even themselves), indians are usually referred to the natives from the sierra. This is because most of them had mingled both culturally (they have their own new culture rich in traditions of their own (or of Our Own), and call themselves montubios or cholos) as racially (some more some less but almost all Costeños and Guayaquileños have some degree of racial mixture).
The Spanish and Italians where the first ones to come, and in the 1st half of the XXth century Lebanese and Orientals came as well. In the 2nd half, more people from other parts of Ecuador came to Guayaquil and contributed with their culture to building her. Who will come in the XXIst century?, who knows, but surely they will come and contribute to making Guayaquil a living city, always changing and always the same.
If you want to know more on Guayaquil's History, read "Cronicas de Guayaquil Antiguo" by Modesto Chavez Franco. He is more polite and political correct, but tells things the way they happened.
A good description of Guayaquil and Ecuador's
coast way of live in the 1st halve of the century is given by Jose
Antonio Campos, Read some of the stories
available on-line. (sorry only in Spanish).