Ecuador-Peru Border War



Ecuador and Peru share a long border made up largely of jungle and high mountains. As is the case with many such borders around the world, disputes arise, and conflict breaks out. In this century, these Latin American neighbors have fought three times, (1941, 1981 and 1995), over the area known as the Cordillera del Condor region. After much bloodshed and, since 1995, much negotiating, these Andean nations signed a peace accord on October 26, 1998.

Research and material for this page supplied by Joe Halcli.

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NAME OF CONFLICT: Ecuador-Peru Border War

ALTERNATE NAMES: Marañon War, Zarumilla Campaign






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BEGAN: July 5, 1941

ENDED: July 31, 1941


TYPE(S) OF CONFLICT: Inter-State (between nations)




SUCCESSOR: Ecuador-Peru Border Wars in 1981 and 1995

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The territorial dispute between Ecuador and Peru originated in Spanish Colonial times. Upon independence, Ecuador joined what is now known as"Great Colombia", comprised of the territories of Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama (then a part of Colombia). In 1829, the Treaty of Peace and Limits of Guayaquil was signed. Subsequently, in 1830, Pedemonte-Mosquera Protocol was signed. They established the Marañon-Amazon River as the border between Peru and Ecuador; however, Peru has contested these agreements. Between 1936 and 1938, representatives from Ecuador and Peru attempted to negotiate a treaty in Washington, D.C., consequently, the Peruvians withdrew from the negotiations. A series of border clashes were fought in the years between 1938 and 1940. Peru decided to settle the matter by force after a border clash in July 1941.
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Ecuador was unprepared to meet the July 5 Peruvian invasion. The much larger Peruvian army of 13,000 men, supported by a battalion of armor, together with artillery and air support (known as Group of the North or agrupamiento del Norte commanded by General Eloy G. Ureta), moved quickly into the southern coastal province of El Oro, threatening Guayaquil. The fewer than 1,800 Ecuadorian troops in the area lacked air cover and could offer only limited resistance. The Ecuadorian president's fear of being left unprotected from his political opponents led him to keep the nation's best fighting forces in Quito. Peruvian forces also moved into the disputed Amazonian territory without significant opposition. Peruvian troops continuously attacked the nation's southern and eastern provinces until a ceasefire went into effect on July 31. After a campaign lasting only three weeks, an armistice was arranged.

The 1941 war with Ecuador was a major success for Peruvian forces. By theend of the month, when military actions ceased, Peru held Ecuador's southernmost province of El Oro and much of the disputed eastern jungle territory that had been part of Ecuador since the 1830s.

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The Rio Protocol of February 1942 awarded to Peru some 205,000 square kilometers of previously disputed Amazon territory. The subsequent Protocol of Peace, Friendship, and Boundaries (Rio Protocol) imposed on Ecuador acceptance of Peru's claims in the Amazonian region in return for Peruvian withdrawal from Ecuador's coastal provinces.


Ecuador: Up to 400-500 killed

Peru: 107 members of Air Force, Army, and Guarda Civil killed

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UNIQUE FACTS OR TRENDS: This section is formed from the opinion of the History Guy regarding this conflict.

1. First use of paratroops in Latin America (by Peru).


1. Bryce Wood, The United States and Latin American Wars 1932-1942. New York, Columbia University, 1966.
2. David H. Zook, Jr., Zarumilla-Marañon: The Ecuador-Peru Dispute, New York, Bookman Associates, 1964.
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Background on the Ecuador-Peru Conflict

Peace Treaty Signed--News story.

Good Borders Make Good Neighbors?--Christian Science Monitor article on the recent peace treaty.

Ecuador-Peru Border Conflict --Information from Native Web.

Binational Plan for Development of the Border

FACT SHEET--Information from the Federation of American Scientists.

Peru/Ecuador: Invisible Victims of War--

Ecuador-Peru Start Work on "Park of Peace"


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Please cite this source when appropriate:

Lee, R., and Halcli, J. "Ecuador-Peru Border War (1941)"


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