A History of Cotacachi

The first settlers of Cotacachi date back some 4000 years ago by the indigenous natives known as the Paltalcos. These were followed by the Imbayas and Esmeraldeños some 2500 years ago. The Incas and the Spaniards arrived about 500 years ago.

Cotacachi began to have the characteristics as a town with the Quitos natives. They baptized the volcano (4,939 metres) with the name of Coto-ashi. The Incas who spoke the Quichua language transformed the word Cotashi into Cotacachi, a name by which it is known today.

Since ancient times, Cotacachi labored in textile, pottery, gold-smithing, silverware, saddlery, tailoring, fur, and shoes. They were also known for making music.

The city of Santa Ana de Cotacachi, was founded in colonial times by Fray Pedro de la Peña in 1544.

Thirty-one days after the Battle of Pichincha, Quito joined Gran Colombia. Cotacachi appears as Canton that was part of the province of Imbabura, along with Ibarra, Otavalo and Cayambe.

In 1824, Simón Bolívar issued the territorial division law and for the first time the name of Ecuador is mentioned as the department of Gran Colombia.

The Government of Gabriel García Moreno, decreed the canton on July 6, 1861 with the parishes of Cotacachi, Imantag and Intag.

The Cotacachi Canton was inaugurated on July 6, 1861.

The most important economic activities are agricultural, manufacturing and artisanal production, and tourism. Flowers, fruits, avocados and asparagus are widely grown and most are intended for export.

Cotacachi is known today an artisan city that is famous for its leather goods and handicrafts. Cotacachi residents are also well known for their carne colorada (pork cooked in red achiote sauce), and queso de hoja (soft cheese wrapped in a plant leaf).

Cotacachi and the surrounding communities boasts one of the highest concentrations of indigenous people in the country of Ecuador. It is also home to a growing expat community which today number about 900 residents.

The city of Cotacachi holds a UNESCO medal for being free of illiteracy. In 2000 the entire canton was declared the first ecological county of South America.

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