Quito is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in northern Ecuador (see NG MapMachine satellite map) in the Guayllabamba river basin on the eastern slopes of the Pichincha  (4794 m), an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains. At 2850 meters/9300 feet above sea level at the Plaza de la Independencia, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world. The population of Quito, according to the most recent census (2001), was 1,399,378. In 2005, however, the estimated population was 1,865,541 (canton). The area of Quito is approximately 290 km².
There is some confusion about Quito's position as the second highest capital in the world, but La Paz, Bolivia, which is where the Bolivian government functions, is the governmental capital of Bolivia. Sucre is the legal capital of Bolivia.
Quito is located about 22 miles south of the equator. A monument marking the equator is known locally as "la mitad del mundo" (the middle of the world). Due to its altitude and location, the climate in Quito is mild to cool, fairly constant all year round, with a high temperature typically around 70 degrees Fahrenheit on any given day. There are only two seasons in Quito, summer (the dry season) and winter (the rainy season).
Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador after Guayaquil.
Quito's origins date back to the first millennium, when nomadic tribes roamed the area and ultimately formed a commercial center where Quito is currently located. Early in the 16th century, the Incas conquered the city, hoping to further the reach of their kingdom, but upon the arrival of the Spanish in 1533, those plans were abandoned. Rumiñahui, an Inca war general, burned the city to prevent the Spanish from taking it, thereby destroying any traces of the prehispanic city.
This church is one of the most photographed churches in Quito and is locally known as Iglesia de San Francisco (named after Francis of Assisi). The main cathedral of Quito is about two blocks northeast from San Francisco.Indigenous resistance to the Spanish conquest continued during 1534, and during this time, Diego de Almagro founded Santiago de Quito on August 15, 1534. On December 6, 1534 , the city was officially founded by 204 settlers and Sebastián de Benalcázar, who captured Rumiñahui and effectively ended organized resistance. Rumiñahui was then executed on January 10, 1535. On March 14, 1541, Quito was named a city, and on February 14, 1556, was given the title "Muy Noble y Muy Leal ciudad de San Francisco de Quito" ("Very Noble and Loyal City of San Francisco of Quito").
The Spanish brought the Catholic religion to Quito quickly, with the first temple (El Belén) being built even before the city had been officially founded. In January of 1535, the San Francisco Convent was constructed, the first of about 20 more churches and convents built during the colonial period. The Spanish heavily evangelized the indigenous people and also used them for construction, especially the initial stages. The Diocese of Quito was established in 1545, and then was elevated to the Archdiocese of Quito in 1849.
In 1809, after nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Quito was a city of about 10,000 inhabitants, and August 10, 1809, it was there where the first cry for independence was heard. The movement was ultimately defeated on August 2, 1810, when Spanish forces came from Lima, Peru, and killed the leaders of the uprising and about 200 inhabitants of the city. A chain of conflicts concluded on May 24, 1822 when Antonio José de Sucre, under the command of Simón Bolívar, led troops into the Battle of Pichincha. Their victory marked the independence of Quito and the surrounding areas.
Just days after the Battle of Pichincha, on May 29, 1822, the leaders of the city proclaimed their independence and admitted the city to the Republic of Gran Colombia. Simón Bolívar went to Quito on June 16, 1822, and was present for the signing of the Colombian Constitution on June 24, 1822.
The presidential palace (known in Quito as Palacio Presidencial or Palacio de Carondelet) in QuitoThis lasted until May 13, 1830, when Gran Colombia dissolved and the nation took the name Republic of Ecuador, becoming an independent nation. Quito was named the country's capital for being the original home of numerous prehispanic cultures, for its role in the independence of Ecuador, and because it was an important administrative seat.
Quito has been the scenario for demonstrations and political violence since the early years of the republic. In 1833, members of the Society of Free Inhabitants of Quito were assassinated by the government after they conspired against it, and on March 6, 1845, the Marcist Revolution began. Later, in 1875, the country's president, Gabriel García Moreno, was assassinated in Quito. Two years later, in 1877, archbishop José Ignacio Checa y Barba was killed by poisoning.
In 1882, insurgents arose against the regime of dictator Ignacio de Veintimilla. Their victory did not end the violence that was occurring throughout the country. On July 9, 1883, the liberal commander Eloy Alfaro participated in the Battle of Guayaquil, and later, after more conflict, became the president of Ecuador on September 4, 1895. Upon completing his second term in 1911, he moved to Europe, but upon his return to Ecuador in 1912 and attempted return to power, he was arrested on January 28, 1912, thrown in prison, and assassinated by a mob that had stormed the prison. His body was dragged through the streets of Quito to a city park, where it was burned.
In 1932, the Four Days War broke out, a civil war that followed the election of Neptalí Bonifaz and the subsequent realization that he carried a Peruvian passport. Workers at a major textile factory went on strike in 1934, and similar unrest continues to the present day. On February 12, 1949, a realistic broadcast of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds led to citywide panic and the deaths of six people who died in fires set by mobs. In recent years, Quito has been the focal point of large demonstrations that led to the ousting of presidents Abdalá Bucaram (February 5, 1997), Jamil Mahuad (January 21, 2000) and Lucio Gutiérrez (April 20, 2005).
In 1999, the nearby volcano Pichincha became active; Quito was showered with ash for a few days, but there were no other consequences.
Quito has three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):
Louisville (Kentucky, USA)
St. Paul (Minnesota, USA)
Coral Gables (Florida, USA)