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The capital city of the province of Manabi, on the coastal belt, located on the east band of the Portoviejo river, 140 km to the north-northwest of Guayaquil, in a fertile agricultural region. Its most important products are precious woods, and the food and textile industries. Its population is some 167,000 people.

Portoviejo is located in the center of the province, between the Balsamo and Hojas hills. The former separates the river basins of Portoviejo and Chone, and is covered with ceibo and guayacan trees. The Hojas hill separates Portoviejo from Montecristi. The mountains of Alajuela and San Placido, and the Jaboncillo hill also form part of Portoviejo and are covered with dry, thorny woods.

Portoviejo has always been seen as the center for political and cultural events in the province of Manabi. The main city of the canton is also known as the city of the Royal Tamarinds, since at one time these very leafy fruit trees were planted and grew here.

Portoviejo was the place where the Valdivia, Machalilla and Chorrera cultures settled from the "Formative Period", 3,500 BC to 500 AD.

In the Regional Development period, 500 BC to 500 AD, the Guangala, Bahia and Jama-Coaque cultures settled.

What is today Portoviejo was founded by Captain Francisco Pacheco, a member of Diego de Almagro's army on March 12th, 1535.

The new city, located near Charapoto, was called Villa Nueva de San Gregorio, in homage to Gregory the Great, whose feast day was that day. At the foundation, a square was created with a wooden cross raised in the middle, with the act of foundation on it. Given its importance, in the same year it was raised to the category of a lieutenancy, one of the seven lieutenancies of the Corregimiento of Guayaquil, consisting of 6 parishes: Montecristi, Charapoto, Pichota, Jipijapa, Picoaza and Manta.

Villa Nueva de San Gregorio was one of the most important during the first years of the conquest. There the Spaniards established a safe and sheltered port to give protection and supplies to all the vessels traveling to and from Panama. The foundation, which was initially made very close to the sea, helped in the strategy of the conquest of the Kingdom of Quito. In 1628, seeking refuge from pirate attacks, the city was moved to Charapoto, its current location.

Three people claimed to be the founders of Portoviejo: Pedro Puelles, Gonzalo de Olmos and Francisco Pacheco. The last is officially recognized as the founder of the city of the Royal Tamarinds.

In November, 1535, Gonzalo de Olmos arrived in Portoviejo and founded the city, four leagues from the one created by Pacheco, aiming above all to find the famous emerald mines and the other riches he had heard spoken of.

Pacheco stayed in the region for a little under two years. Later there were various pirate raids and fires were started that led to the city being moved from one place to another.

In 1540, Portoviejo sent a letter - its second - to the King of Spain, complaining that the jurisdiction had been abandoned. They requested a halt to the foundation of new cities in the province, since Portoviejo had only fourteen neighbors, and this, together with the lack of labor and taxes from the Indian village, would significantly impoverish the towns.

By 1765 Portoviejo took on the category of a province, with a population of 5,200. As it was a city of the Spanish foundation, it had certain privileges: one of them was to have a town assembly and the right to elect mayors who were not dependent on the mayors of Guayaquil, according to Horacio Hidrovo Peñaherrera, in his work "Postal Espiritual de Portoviejo".

On October 18th, 1820, Portoviejo, in open assembly, proclaimed its independence, joining the political transformation of Guayaquil, recorded on October 9th, 1820.

It was Jose Joaquin de Olmedo, first civil governor of Ecuador, who sent a letter written and signed in his own hand, in which he declared that Portoviejo had broken the yoke of slavery.

Portoviejo had been important ever since the Spanish conquest. From Portoviejo the Spanish American troops set out for Guayaquil, and then for Quito, carrying their discoveries to the river Amazon. Orellana was especially interested in the prospects offered by Portoviejo.

During the colonial period it was the operational center of the conquistadors and later the center of emancipation movements, and managed to proclaim its independence on October 18th, 1820.

In the last few years it has gone through an urban transformation process, such as occurs only in cities that display constant progress.
It has many tourist attractions: beaches, monuments, tourist centers and shows, all of which constitute potential generators of tourism.
Handicrafts are also a popular characteristic of the area. In Picoaza, for example, hats and beautiful wooden furniture are still made; in Riochico cotton hammocks are still woven and manual and culinary traditions are still present in many homes, such as making embroidered tablecloths and preparing preserves and other recipes. This city has always been noted for its people and also for its architecture: there are old houses, modern buildings, parks and monuments, churches, colleges, public and private institutions and a variety of items, all making up the Portoviejo of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In Portoviejo you can do urban, cultural and rural folklore tourism. 27 kilometers from the canton capital is the Crucita beach, a place noted for being especially suitable for practicing flying sports. It is also a historical place, starting with the origin of its name, that is said to have grown out of the vigils to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Cross, performed every year in the month of May. With the visit of Bishop Pedro Schumacher, who placed a cross at the present location of the church, the name of Crucita ("Little Cross") was adopted, inhabitants who know the history proudly relate.
The tourist potential of Crucita begins in the 90's. Previously it was not known as anything more than a neglected bathing place. But private investment and the resources it possesses are driving its development.

Points of Tourism

Portoviejo Lookout Points, Riochico Reservoir, Botanical Garden, Libraries: Casa de Horacio, Consejo Provincial, UTM and Municipal Library.
Museums: Popular Art in the UTM, Casa de la Cultura [House of Culture].
Tourist Centers: El Concorde, Jotapi, Ginverjud.
Bathing places: Del Encanto Lagoon in San Placido; Del Carchi Waterspring, in Colon parish; La Playita [Beach] at Picoaza.
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