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During the pre-hispanic era, the area of Zarumilla was inhabited by the Tumpis tribe, and archeological remains of this have been found. During the Colonial era serveral spaniards claimed ownership over the lands until the captain Miguel Olmedo won the rights in 1785 and built an hacienda called Zarumilla. In 1821 the locals declared their independence and its owner, Joaquín Olmedo, decided to sell the deeds.
During 1941 the city became involved in a battle with Ecuator, part of the ongoing war, in which Peru won. Zarumilla was named province in 1942 and after the end of the conflict all grudges were cast aside and now mantains an economic integration and respect with neighbooring Huaquillas, the ecuatorian border town.
The history of the first inhabitants of Tumbes dates back to the pre-Incan period and it’s linked to the Tumpis culture, a noted ethnic group of navigators, who reached to be considered the best of the Peruvian North coast. They were also expert sculptors using as main material different mollusk shells species of the region.During the incan period, Tumbes was subdued to the power of the inca Pachacútec, and was transformed into an important administrative center of the incan culture. But it was during the peak of the inca Huayna Cápac control that Tumbes had an strategic relevance, building temples, roads and homes.With the Spanish arrival in 1532, the incan culture and the West culture met in Tumbes territory. Then the Spanish knew for the first time the strength and vitality of the indigenous warriors; some fighted for the possession, while others resisted invasion at the named Combate de los Manglares (Manglares combat). Later, during the Independence war, Tumbes would be the first city to achieve its independence in January the 7th 1821.At the armed conflict of 1941 against the neighbour country Ecuador, the people from Tumbes had an essential role, collaborating actively in the patriotic fight for defending the peruvian sovereignty. It was in 1942 that Tumbes raised as Department category, as recognition to its unconditional support, effort and sacrifice for achieving the victory of the Peruvian nation.