Quito kē´tō [key], city (1990 pop. 1,100,847), N central Ecuador, capital of Ecuador and of Pichincha prov. After Guayaquil it is Ecuador's largest city. The setting of Quito is visually splendid: It lies at the foot of the Pichincha volcano in the hollow of a gently sloping, fertile valley. Only a short distance below the equator but at an elevation of 9,350 ft (2,850 m), Quito has a pleasant, balmy climate; however, it is subject to earthquakes and has been damaged several times. The city has textile mills and handicraft and other minor industries, but it is primarily as the educational, cultural, and political center of Ecuador that Quito is important. It is the seat of the Central Univ. of Ecuador and of the oldest art school in Latin America. The site was originally settled by the Quito people. It was captured by the Inca and became the capital of the Inca Kingdom of Quito a few decades before Sebastián de Benalcázar arrived and captured it for Spain (1534). In 1663, Quito became the seat of an audiencia, with boundaries foreshadowing that of present-day Ecuador. Quito was shifted back and forth between the viceroyalty of Peru and that of New Granada. There was an abortive uprising against Spain in 1809, and not until 1822 was the city liberated by Antonio José de Sucre. Quito has a Spanish colonial atmosphere, with many examples of fine early architecture, notably the great Church of San Francisco (see Spanish colonial art and architecture). Much of the city's population is Native American.
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