The Guancavilca People possess about 515,000 hectares of ancestral territory in Santa Elena Peninsula, Ecuador. Most of their towns are located by the Pacific Ocean, such as Chanduy, Santa Elena, Playas, Valdivia, and so forth. Some towns also exist in the interior for farming and hunting.
These territories belonged to the Guancavilca people before the “Time of the Crossing.” In the 1560s, disease and warfare between the Spanish and Guancavilcas impacted the decrease in Indigenous population in the Peninsular region. Two thousand Guancavilcas survived this era and lived in four colonial reservation camps created by the Spanish. The names of these reservations were: Colonche, La Punta, Chanduy, and Chongon. The Spanish Crown prohibited Guancavilcas, among other Indigenous groups, to intermarry with the Spanish and Africans till the nineteenth century.
Isolated in reservation camps, the surviving population adapted to new technology and the Spanish language in order to survive as an ethnic group in colonial society. They also maintained their oral tradition, Indigenous culture, and traditional belief system. In the 1700s, the Guancavilcas were able to purchase most of their ancestral territory back from the Spanish Crown. They gained political autonomy in the form of tribal government that made it possible for them to govern themselves without Spanish and Ecuadorian influence.
Today the descendants of the Guancavilcas legitimately hold title deeds to 515,000 hectares of Indigenous territory. According to Silvia Alvares, in 1982, the Guancavilcas people made up a total of 168,000 in total population – making them the largest Indigenous group in the Ecuadorian coast.