Template:Image array
Total population
±16,5 million
Regions with significant populations
United States 564,631[1]
Canada 20,120[2]
Colombia 11.404[3]
Spanish, and 2 indigenous linguistic groups of Amerindian languages.

Ecuadorian people consist of a diverse collection of ethnic groups, almost all related to another group in one way or another. The great majority of Ecuadorians trace their origins to one or more of three geographical sources of human migrations: the pre-Hispanic indigenous populations who settled the region over 15,000 years ago, the Europeans (principally Spaniards) who arrived over five centuries ago, and ultimately the black sub-Saharan Africans whom they imported as slave labor during the same period. The mixing of two or more of these three groups established other mixed ethnic groups.

Mestizos, the multiracial group of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry, are by far the largest of all the ethnic groups and comprise around 63% of the current population.Whites are estimated at 19% and consist largely of those of unmixed or predominant European descent.[4] Most white Ecuadorans are of colonial-era Spanish origin, also known as criollos (literally meaning "local-born Spaniards", as opposed to "Peninsulares", which were Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. They also include descendants of immigrants from Italy, Germany, and France, as well as other countries. The third most numerous group are the indigenous Amerindians, who account for approximately 13% of the population.Afro-Ecuadoreans make up most of the balance of the percentage and include mulattos (mixed European and sub-Saharan African) and zambos (mixed indigenous and sub-Saharan African).

Besides the above-mentioned ethnic groups, there are also Middle Easterns, mostly of Levantine origin and East Asians, mostly of Chinese and Japanese origin.


Census data

The Ecuadorian census is conducted by the governmental institution known as INEC, Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas y Censos (National Institute of Statistics and Census).[5] The census in Ecuador is conducted every 10 years, and its objective is to obtain the number of people residing within its borders. The current census now includes household information.

The most recent census (as of 2011) emphasized reaching rural and remote areas to map the most accurate population count in the country. The 2010 census was conducted in November and December, and its results were published January 27, 2011.

The following table shows the dates the most recent censuses were made, and the total population number:

Recent Ecuadorian censuses
Date Population Density Change since
previous census
1 Census 2001 12,156,608 53.8
2 Census 2010 14,306,876 55.8 +14%[5]

Index of growth:

Percentage of population growth (census periods)
Time lapse Growth percentile
1 1950–1962 2.96%
2 1962–1974 3.10%
3 1974–1982 2.62%
4 1982–1990 2.19%
5 1990–2001 2.05%
6 2001–2010 1.52%[6]

UN estimates

According to the 2010 revison of the World Population Prospects the total population was 14,465,000 in 2010, compared to only 3,387,000 in 1950. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 30.3%, 63.4% was between 15 and 65 years of age, while 6.2% was 65 years or older .[7]

Total population
(x 1000)
aged 0–14
aged 15–64
aged 65+
1950 3 387 39.5 55.2 5.3
1955 3 862 41.6 53.5 4.9
1960 4 439 43.3 52.0 4.7
1965 5 146 44.5 51.0 4.5
1970 5 972 44.3 51.5 4.3
1975 6 908 43.7 52.2 4.1
1980 7 958 42.7 53.2 4.1
1985 9 091 41.0 54.9 4.1
1990 10 261 38.8 56.9 4.3
1995 11 385 36.3 59.1 4.6
2000 12 345 34.3 60.6 5.1
2005 13 426 32.2 62.1 5.7
2010 14 465 30.3 63.4 6.2

Vital statistics

Registration of vital events is in Ecuador not complete. The Population Departement of the United Nations prepared the following estimates. [7]

Period Live births
per year
per year
Natural change
per year
CBR* CDR* NC* TFR* IMR* Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy
1950-1955 165 000 70 000 95 000 45.6 19.4 26.2 6.70 140 48.4 47.1 49.6
1955-1960 186 000 70 000 116 000 44.8 17.0 27.8 6.70 129 51.4 50.1 52.7
1960-1965 211 000 70 000 141 000 44.2 14.7 29.5 6.70 119 54.7 53.4 56.1
1965-1970 238 000 73 000 165 000 42.9 13.1 29.7 6.50 107 56.8 55.4 58.2
1970-1975 261 000 74 000 187 000 40.6 11.5 29.0 6.00 95 58.9 57.4 60.5
1975-1980 284 000 73 000 211 000 38.1 9.9 28.3 5.40 82 61.4 59.7 63.2
1980-1985 297 000 69 000 228 000 34.7 8.1 26.6 4.70 69 64.5 62.5 66.7
1985-1990 300 000 65 000 235 000 30.9 6.7 24.2 4.00 56 67.5 65.3 69.9
1990-1995 298 000 63 000 235 000 27.5 5.8 21.7 3.40 44 70.1 67.6 72.7
1995-2000 303 000 63 000 240 000 25.6 5.2 20.4 3.10 33 72.3 69.7 75.2
2000-2005 294 000 64 000 230 000 23.6 4.9 18.6 2.82 25 74.2 71.3 77.3
2005-2010 282 000 69 000 213 000 21.6 5.0 16.6 2.58 21 75.0 72.1 78.1
* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated. Population: 15,007,343 (July 2011 est.)

Median Age

Total: 25.7 years
Male: 25 years
Female: 26.3 years (2011 est.)

Population growth rate

1.443% (2011 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
-0.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15–64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

0.3% (2007 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

26,000 (2007 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths

1,400 (2007 est.)


noun: Ecuadorian(s)
adjective: Ecuadorian


Roman Catholic: approximately 95%
Protestant: approximately 4%
Jewish: below 0.002%
Eastern Orthodox: under 0.2%
Muslim: (Suni) approximately 0.001%
Buddhism: under 0.15%
Animism: beliefs under 0.5%
Atheist: and agnostics: 1%

Languages Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua).

Achuar-Shiwiar – 2,000 Pastaza province. Alternate names: Achuar, Achual, Achuara, Achuale.

Chachi – 3,450 Esmeraldas Province, Cayapas River system. Alternate names: Cayapa, Cha' Palaachi.

Colorado – 2,300 Santo Domingo de los Colorados province. Alternate names: Tsachila, Tsafiki.

Quechua 9 separate dialocts are spoken in as many areas in the country with a combined population of 1'460,000.

Shuar – 46,669 (2000 WCD). Morona-Santiago Province. Alternate names: Jivaro, Xivaro, Jibaro, Chiwaro, Shuara.

Waorani – 1,650 (2004). Napo and Morona-Santiago provinces. Alternate names: Huaorani, Waodani, Huao.


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91%
male: 92,3%
female: 89,7% (2003 est.)


Due to the prevalence of Malaria and Yellow fever in the coastal region until the end of the 19th century, the Ecuadorian population was most heavily concentrated in the Highlands and valleys of the "Sierra" region. Today's population is distributed more evenly between the "Sierra" and the "Costa" (the coastal lowlands)region. Migration towards the cities—particularly larger cities—in all regions has increased the urban population to about 55 percent.

The "Oriente" region, consisting of Amazonian lowlands to the East of the Andes and covering about half the country's land area, remains sparsely populated and contains only about 3% of the country's population, that for the most are indigenous peoples who maintain a wary distance from the recent mestizo and white settlers. The territories of the "Oriente" are home to as many as nine indigenous groups: Quichua, Shuar, Achuar, Huaorani, Siona, Secoya, Shiwiar, and Cofan, all represented politically by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadoran Amazon, CONFENIAE.

As a result of the oil exploration and the development of the infrastructure required for the exploitation of the oil fields in the eastern jungles during the seventies and early eighties, there was a wave of settlement in the region. The Majority of these wave of internal immigration came from the southern province of Loja as a result of a drought that lasted three years and affected the southern provinces of the country. This boom of the petroleum industry has led to a mushrooming of the town of Lago Agrio (Nueva Loja) as well as substantial deforestation and pollution of wetlands and lakes.

Nationality, ethnicity, and race

Mestizos White Amerindians Montubios Afroecuadorians other
65% 19% 13% 7.4% 7.2% 0.4%

Ecuador's ethnic groups descend from Spanish colonizers and South American Indians; indeed, the relationship between the two groups has defined Ecuador's subsequent pattern of ethnicity. The mix of these groups created a third category, described variously as mestizos or cholos. The fourth element consists of descendants of black slaves who arrived to work on coastal plantations in the 16th century. Censuses do not record ethnic affiliation, which in any event remains fluid; thus, estimates of the numbers of each group should be taken only as approximations. As of the 1980s, Indians and mestizos represented the bulk of the population, with each group accounting for roughly 40 percent of total population. Whites represented 10 to 15 percent and blacks the remaining 5 percent.[8]

The precise criteria for defining ethnic groups varies considerably. The vocabulary that more prosperous mestizos and whites used in describing ethnic groups mixes social and biological characteristics. Typically, higher-status whites consider their own positions as derived from a superior racial background. Nonetheless, ethnic affiliation remains dynamic; Indians often become mestizos, and prosperous mestizos seek to improve their status sufficiently to be considered whites. Ethnic identity reflects numerous characteristics, only one of which is physical appearance; others include dress, language, community membership, and self-identification.[8]

No pretense to equality or egalitarianism exists in ethnic relations. From the perspective of those in the upper echelons, the ranking of ethnic groups is undisputed: whites, mestizos, blacks, and Indians. As the self-proclaimed standard bearers of civilization, whites contend that only they manifest proper behavior, an appropriate sense of duty to family and kin, and the values integral to the Christian, European culture.[8]

As with much of social life, this particular view of ethnicity has strongly feudal overtones. The conquistadors accepted and lauded hierarchy and rank. Their success in subduing the Inca Empire made them lords of the land and justified holding Indians as serfs, to serve as a cheap source of labor. Although individuals might change their position in the hierarchy, social mobility itself was not positively viewed. The movement of individuals up and down the social scale was regrettable—ideally, a person should be content with, and maintain, his or her assigned role in the social order.[8]

The geography of ethnicity remained well-defined until the surge in migration that began in the 1950s. Whites resided primarily in larger cities. Mestizos lived in small towns scattered throughout the countryside. Indians formed the bulk of the Sierra rural populace, although mestizos filled this role in the areas with few Indians. Most blacks lived in Esmeraldas Province, with small enclaves found in the Carchi and Imbabura provinces. Pressure on Sierra land resources and the dissolution of the traditional hacienda, however, increased the numbers of Indians migrating to the Costa, the Oriente, and the cities. By the 1980s, Sierra Indians—or Indians in the process of switching their ethnic identity to that of mestizos—lived on Costa plantations, in Quito, Guayaquil, and other cities, and in colonization areas in the Oriente and the Costa. Indeed, Sierra Indians residing in the coastal region substantially outnumbered the remaining original Costa inhabitants, the Cayapa and Colorado Indians. In the late 1980s, analysts estimated that there were only about 4,000 Cayapas and Colorados. Some blacks had migrated from the remote region of the Ecuadorian-Colombian border to the towns and cities of Esmeraldas.[8]

Whites and mestizos

Whites constitute the most privileged ethnic group and occupy the top of Ecuador's social pyramid. Despite their own realization that there is an admixture of Indian genes in their heritage, whites place considerable emphasis on their purported purity of blood and Spanish ancestry. Although whites share a common cultural background, differences in class and regional loyalties—especially the split between Quito and Guayaquil—remain important.[9]

In general, financially successful whites are employed as high-status professionals, government officials, prosperous merchants, and financiers. In the white ideal, manual labor is viewed as degrading and evidence of an inability to maintain a proper lifestyle. Accordingly, business interests are geared toward maintaining the family's social status rather than the pursuit of economic success for its own sake.[9]

Below the white elite, but merging with it, are mestizos or cholos. Mestizos share, to a large extent, a common set of values and a general cultural orientation with whites. Indeed, the boundary between the two groups remains fluid. Geography also plays a role. In the smaller towns of the Sierra, those of mixed ancestry would call themselves whites, but they would be considered as mestizos by whites of larger cities or by those with more clearly superior social status. Income and lifestyle also constitute important factors; a wealthy mestizo might be called a white, whereas a poorer one would be classified as a mestizo. Those in rural areas sometimes distinguish between "whites" and "legitimate whites." The latter could demonstrate to the satisfaction of the local community that their parents were considered white. Differing views of ethnicity partially reflect status differences between those involved in a given exchange. Hacienda foremen, for example, typically think of themselves as whites. Although Indians would agree with that classification, hacendados regard foremen as mestizos.[9]

The terminology and categories themselves derive from colonial legal distinctions. Peninsulares (Spanish-born persons residing in the New World) ranked at the top of the social hierarchy. They enjoyed a range of legal privileges and status denied even wealthy criollos born of Spanish parents in the colonies. The pedigree of forbearers defined status at every level. Individuals were ranked by the number of grandparents legally classified as white.[9]

Common usage, however, has modified the categories through the centuries. In the 19th century, for example, the term mestizo described a person whose parents were an Indian and a white. In contrast, a cholo was one whose parents were an Indian and a mestizo. By the 20th century, mestizo and cholo were frequently used interchangeably. On occasion, however, some people used cholo in a derogatory sense to describe an Indian trying to rise above his or her proper station. Other people might use cholo to designate an intermediate category between Indian and mestizo.[9]

As with whites, facility in Spanish, urban orientation, livelihood, manners, and fineness of clothing defines mestizo identity. Traditionally, mestizos fill the intermediate occupations such as clerk, small merchant, hacienda foreman, and low-ranking bureaucrat. Although mestizos are assumed to be of mixed Indian-white ancestry, an Indian might gradually become mestizo by abandoning his or her previous lifestyle.[9]

Usually, individuals desiring to switch ethnic affiliation have to leave their villages, learn Spanish well enough to mask their origin, and acquire a mestizo occupation. They also have to acquire sufficient finesse and confidence in dealing with whites and mestizos not to be marked as Indians. It is virtually impossible for an Indian to change ethnic identity in his or her home community. No improvement in expertise, level of education, or facility in Spanish would cause locals to treat one born an Indian as a mestizo.[9]

In special circumstances, individuals could move from one group to the other without leaving their communities. For example, the Saraguro Indians of southern Ecuador are generally more prosperous than local whites. Indeed, the latter either depend on the Saraguros for their livelihood or live in communities where typically most of the populace was Indian. As a result, a distinctive pattern of ethnic change prevails. Some whites opt to become Indians, usually improving their economic options in the process. A few Indians decide to improve their ethnic status and became white. The switch is made, however, without resort to subterfuge. Indians do not hide their origins, nor leave their home communities.[9]

Afro-Ecuadorian people

Afro-Ecuadorians are an ethnic group in Ecuador who are descendants of black African slaves brought by the Spanish during their conquest of Ecuador from the Incas. They make up from 3% to 5% of Ecuador's population.[10][11]

Ecuador has a population of about 1,120,000 descendants from African people. The Afro-Ecuadorian culture is found primarily in the country's northwest coastal region. Africans form a majority (70%) in the province of Esmeraldas and also have an important concentration in the Valle del Chota in the Imbabura Province. They can be also found in important numbers in Quito and Guayaquil.

Indigenous peoples

Sierra Indians

Sierra Indians had an estimated population of 1.5 to 2 million in the early 1980s and live in the intermontane valleys of the Andes. Prolonged contact with Hispanic culture, which dates back to the conquest, has had a homogenizing effect, reducing the variation among the indigenous Sierra tribes.[12]

The Indians of the Sierra are separated from whites and mestizos by a castelike gulf. They are marked as a disadvantaged group; to be an Indian or indígena in Ecuador is to be stigmatized. Indians are usually poor and frequently illiterate, they enjoy limited participation in national institutions, and they command access to few of the social and economic opportunities available to more privileged groups.[12]

Visible markers of ethnic affiliation, especially hairstyle, dress, and language, separate Indians from the rest of the populace. Indians wore more manufactured items by the late 1970s than previously; their clothing, nonetheless, was distinct from that of other rural inhabitants. Indians in communities relying extensively on wage labor sometimes assumed Western-style dress while still maintaining their Indian identity. Indians speak Quichua—a Quechua dialect—although most are bilingual, speaking Spanish as a second language with varying degrees of facility. By the late 1980s, some younger Indians no longer learned Quichua.[12]

Most whites and mestizos view Indians as inherently inferior. Some regard indígenas as little better than a subspecies. A more benign perspective condescendingly considers the Indian as an intellectual inferior, an emotional child in need of direction. Such views underlie the elaborate public etiquette required in Indian-white/mestizo interactions. Common practice allows whites and mestizos to use first names and familiar verb and pronoun forms in addressing Indians.[12]

Although public deference to other ethnic groups supports stereotypes of Indians as intellectually inferior, Indians view deference as a survival strategy. Deference establishes that an individual Indian was properly humble and deserving of the white's or mestizo's aid and intercession. Given the relative powerlessness of Indians, such an approach softens the rules governing interethnic exchanges.[12]

The tenor of such exchanges differs in cases of limited hacienda dominance. The Otavalos of northern Ecuador, the Saraguros, and the Salaacas in the central Sierra resisted hacienda intrusion and domination by whites and mestizos. These Indians are thus less inclined to be subservient and adopt instead an attitude of aloofness or distance in dealing with whites and mestizos.[12]

Most Indians, however, can improve their situation only by changing their ethnic affiliation. Such a switch in allegiances is fraught with risk, since individuals thereby lose the security offered by their small community of family and neighbors. Many reject such an extreme move and instead make a series of accommodations such as changing their dress and hairstyle while working for brief periods away from home and gradually increasing the length of their absences.[12]

By the early 1980s, changes in Indian ethnic consciousness could be identified in some communities. An increasing number of educated Indians returned to work in their native communities instead of assuming a mestizo identity and moving away. They remained Indian in their loyalty and their ethnic allegiance. The numbers of Indian primary school teachers of Quichua increased, and literacy programs expanded; both trends reinforced Indian identity.[12]

Although these developments were most prominent among prosperous groups such as the Otavalos and the Saraguros, the number of Indians in general moving into "mestizo jobs" increased during the oil expansion. New opportunities gave Indians the option of improving their economic status without sacrificing their ethnic identity. Observers also noted a general growth in ethnic pride coupled with negative reactions toward those Indians who chose to abandon their roots and become mestizos.[12]

Oriente Indians

Although the Indians of the Oriente first came into contact with whites in the 16th century, the encounters were more sporadic than those of most of the country's indigenous population. Until the 19th century, most non-Indians entering the region were either traders or missionaries. Beginning in the 1950s, however, the government built roads and encouraged settlers from the Sierra to colonize the Amazon River Basin. Virtually all remaining Indians were brought into increasing contact with national society. The interaction between Indians and outsiders had a profound impact on the indigenous way of life.[13]

In the late 1970s, roughly 30,000 Quichua speakers and 15,000 Jívaros lived in Oriente Indian communities. Quichua speakers (sometimes referred to as the Yumbos) grew out of the detribalization of members of many different groups after the Spanish conquest. Subject to the influence of Quichua-speaking missionaries and traders, various elements of the Yumbos adopted the tongue as a lingua franca and gradually lost their previous languages and tribal origins. Yumbos were scattered throughout the Oriente, whereas the Jívaros—subdivided into the Shuar and the Achuar—were concentrated in southeastern Ecuador. Some also lived in northeastern Peru. Traditionally, both groups relied on migration to resolve intracommunity conflict and to limit the ecological damage to the tropical forest caused by slash-and-burn agriculture.[13]

Both the Yumbos and the Jívaros depended on agriculture as their primary means of subsistence. Manioc, the main staple, was grown in conjunction with a wide variety of other fruits and vegetables. Yumbo men also resorted to wage labor to obtain cash for the few purchases deemed necessary. By the mid-1970s, increasing numbers of Quichua speakers settled around some of the towns and missions of the Oriente. Indians themselves had begun to make a distinction between Christian and jungle Indians. The former engaged in trade with townspeople. The Jívaros, in contrast to the Christian Quichua speakers, lived in more remote areas. Their mode of horticulture was similar to that of the non-Christian Yumbos, although they supplemented crop production with hunting and some livestock raising.[13]

Shamans (curanderos) played a pivotal role in social relations in both groups. As the main leaders and the focus of local conflicts, shamans were believed to both cure and kill through magical means. In the 1980s group conflicts between rival shamans still erupted into full-scale feuds with loss of life.[13]

The Oriente Indian population dropped precipitously during the initial period of intensive contact with outsiders. The destruction of their crops by mestizos laying claim to indigenous lands, the rapid exposure to diseases to which Indians lacked immunity, and the extreme social disorganization all contributed to increased mortality and decreased birth rates. One study of the Shuar in the 1950s found that the group between ten and nineteen years of age was smaller than expected. This was the group that had been youngest and most vulnerable during the initial contact with national society. Normal population growth rates began to reestablish themselves after approximately the first decade of such contact.[13]

Increased colonization and oil exploration also displaced the indigenous population, hurt the nutritional status of Indians, and damaged tribal social relations. The Indians' first strategy was to retreat to more remote areas—an option that became less available with increased settlement of the tropical forest. Land pressures also produced a decline in the game available and, hence, in Indian protein levels. Even livestock raising did little to improve Indian diets, since this was done primarily for sale rather than consumption. In addition, the decline in migration opportunities increased tribal hostility and competition between rival shamans.[13]

Critics contended that the government took little effective action to protect Indians. Although the government had designated some land as "indigenous communes" and missionaries had organized some Indians into cooperatives, Indians remained disadvantaged in conflicts with settlers, who had greater familiarity with the national bureaucracy.[13]


Main article: Culture of Ecuador

Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its Hispanic mestizo majority, and like their ancestry, it is traditionally of Spanish heritage, influenced in different degrees by Amerindian traditions, and in some cases by African elements.The first and most substantial wave of modern immigration to Ecuador consisted of Spanish colonists, following the arrival of Europeans in 1499. A lower number of other Europeans and North Americans migrated to the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and in smaller numbers, Poles, Lithuanians, English, Irish, and Croats during and after the Second World War.

Since African slavery was not the workforce of the Spanish colonies in the Andes Mountains of South America, given the subjugation of the indigenous people through evangelism and encomiendas, the minority population of African descent is mostly found in the coastal northern province of Esmeraldas. This is largely owing to the 17th century shipwreck of a slave-trading galleon off the northern coast of Ecuador. The few black African survivors swam to the shore and penetrated the then-thick jungle under the leadership of Anton, the chief of the group, where they remained as free men maintaining their original culture, not influenced by the typical elements found in other provinces of the coast or in the Andean region. A little later runaway slaves from Colombia known as cimarrones joined them. In the small Chota Valley of the province of Imbabura exist a small community of Africans among the provinces predominantly mestizo population. These blacks are descendants of Africans, who were brought over from Colombia by Jesuits to work their colonial sugar and plantations as slaves. As a general rule small elements of zambos and mulattoes co-exist among the overwhelming mestizo population of coastal Ecuador throughout its history as gold miners in Loja, Zaruma and Zamora; and shipbuilders and plantation workers around the city of Guayaquil. Today you can find a small community of Africans in the Catamayo valley of the predominantly mestizo population of Loja.

Ecuador's indigenous communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees,[14] but some may also practice their own indigenous cultures, particularly the more remote indigenous communities of the Amazon basin. Spanish is spoken as the first language by more than 90% of the population, and as a first or second language by more than 98%. Part of Ecuador's population can speak Amerindian languages, in some cases as a second language. Two percent of the population speak only Amerindian languages.


Most Ecuadorians speak Spanish, though many speak Amerindian languages such as Kichwa. Other Amerindian languages spoken in Ecuador include Awapit (spoken by the Awá), A'ingae (spoken by the Cofan), Shuar Chicham (spoken by the Shuar), Achuar-Shiwiar (spoken by the Achuar and the Shiwiar), Cha'palaachi (spoken by the Chachi), Tsa'fiki (spoken by the Tsáchila), Paicoca (spoken by the Siona and Secoya), and Wao Tededeo (spoken by the Waorani). Though most features of Ecuadorian Spanish are those universal to the Spanish-speaking world, there are several idiosyncrasies.


Main article: Religion in Ecuador

According to the Ecuadorian National Institute of Statistics and Census, 91.95% of the country's population have a religion, 7.94% are atheists and 0.11% are agnostics. Among the people that have a religion, 80.44% are Roman Catholic (see List of Roman Catholic dioceses in Ecuador), 11.30% are Protestants, 1.29% are Jehovah's Witnesses and 6.97% other (mainly Jewish, Buddhists and Mormons).[15][16]

In the rural parts of Ecuador, indigenous beliefs and Catholicism are sometimes syncretized. Most festivals and annual parades are based on religious celebrations, many incorporating a mixture of rites and icons.

There is a small number of Eastern Orthodox Christians, indigenous religions, Muslims (see Islam in Ecuador), Buddhists and Bahá'ís. Ecuador has a number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about 1.4% of the population, or about 185,000 members.[17][18] In 2010, there were 73,215 Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.[19]

The "Jewish Community of Ecuador" (Comunidad Judía del Ecuador) has its seat in Quito and has approximately 300 members. Nevertheless, this number is declining because young people leave the country towards the United States of America or Israel.[20] The Community has a Jewish Center with a synagogue, a country club and a cemetery. It supports the "Albert Einstein School", where Jewish history, religion and Hebrew classes are offered. Since 2004, there has also been a Chabad house in Quito.[21]

There are very small communities in Cuenca and Ambato. The "Comunidad de Culto Israelita" reunites the Jews of Guayaquil. This community works independently from the "Jewish Community of Ecuador".[22] Jewish visitors to Ecuador can also take advantage of Jewish resources as they travel[23] and keep kosher there, even in the Amazon Rainforest.[24] The city has also synagogue of Messianic Judaism.[25]


Main article: Music of Ecuador

The music of Ecuador has a long history. Pasillo is a genre of indigenous Latin music. In Ecuador it is the "national genre of music." Through the years, many cultures have influenced to establish new types of music. There are also different kinds of traditional music like albazo, pasacalle, fox incaico, tonada, capishca, Bomba highly established in afro-Ecuadorian society like Esmeraldas, and so on. Tecnocumbia and Rockola are clear examples of foreign cultures influence. One of the most traditional forms of dancing in Ecuador is Sanjuanito. It's originally from the North of Ecuador (Otavalo-Imbabura). Sanjuanito is a danceable music used in the festivities of the mestizo and indigenous culture. According to the Ecuadorian musicologist Segundo Luis Moreno, Sanjuanito was danced by indigenous people during San Juan Bautista's birthday. This important date was established by the Spaniards on June 24, coincidentally the same date when indigenous people celebrated their rituals of Inti Raymi.


Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with the altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a second course which includes rice and a protein such as meat or fish, and then dessert and coffee to finish. Supper is usually lighter, and sometimes consists only of coffee or herbal tea with bread.

In the highland region, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn) or potatoes.

In the coastal region, seafood is very popular, with fish, shrimp and ceviche being key parts of the diet. Generally, ceviches are served with fried plantain (chifles y patacones), popcorn or tostado. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals. Encocados (dishes that contain a coconut sauce) are also very popular. Churrasco is a staple food of the coastal region, especially Guayaquil. Arroz con menestra y carne asada (rice with beans and grilled beef) is one of the traditional dishes of Guayaquil, as is fried plantain which is often served with it. This region is a leading producer of bananas, cacao beans (to make chocolate), shrimp, tilapia, mangos and passion fruit, among other products.

In the Amazon region, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms.


Early literature in colonial Ecuador, as in the rest of Spanish America, was influenced by the Spanish Golden Age. One of the earliest examples is Jacinto Collahuazo,[26] an indigenous chief of a northern village in today's Ibarra, born in the late 1600s. Despite the early repression and discrimination of the native people by the Spanish, Collahuazo learned to read and write in Castilian, but his work was written in Quechua. The use of the Quipu was banned by the Spanish,[27] and in order to preserve their work, many Inca poets had to resort to the use of the Latin alphabet to write in their native Quechua language. The history behind the Inca drama "Ollantay", the oldest literary piece in existence for any indigenous language in America,[28] shares some similarities with the work of Collahuazo. Collahuazo was imprisoned, and all of his work burned. The existence of his literary work came to light many centuries later, when a crew of masons was restoring the walls of a colonial church in Quito, and found a hidden manuscript. The salvaged fragment is a Spanish translation from Quechua of the "Elegy to the Dead of Atahualpa",[26] a poem written by Collahuazo, which describes the sadness and impotence of the Inca people of having lost their king Atahualpa.

Other early Ecuadorian writers include the Jesuits Juan Bautista Aguirre, born in Daule in 1725, and Father Juan de Velasco, born in Riobamba in 1727. De Velasco wrote about the nations and chiefdoms that had existed in the Kingdom of Quito (today Ecuador) before the arrival of the Spanish. His historical accounts are nationalistic, featuring a romantic perspective of precolonial history.

Famous authors from the late colonial and early republic period include: Eugenio Espejo a printer and main author of the first newspaper in Ecuadorian colonial times; Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (born in Guayaquil), famous for his ode to Simón Bolívar titled La Victoria de Junin; Juan Montalvo, a prominent essayist and novelist; Juan Leon Mera, famous for his work "Cumanda" or "Tragedy among Savages" and the Ecuadorian National Anthem; Luis A. Martínez with A la Costa, Dolores Veintimilla,[29] and others.

Contemporary Ecuadorian writers include the novelist Jorge Enrique Adoum; the poet Jorge Carrera Andrade; the essayist Benjamín Carrión; the poets Medardo Angel Silva, Jorge Carrera Andrade; the novelist Enrique Gil Gilbert; the novelist Jorge Icaza (author of the novel Huasipungo, translated to many languages); the short story author Pablo Palacio; the novelist Alicia Yanez Cossio.


The best known art styles from Ecuador belonged to the Escuela Quiteña, which developed from the 16th to 18th centuries, examples of which are on display in various old churches in Quito. Ecuadorian painters include: Eduardo Kingman, Oswaldo Guayasamín and Camilo Egas from the Indiginist Movement; Manuel Rendon, Jaime Zapata, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Theo Constante, León Ricaurte and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement; and Luis Burgos Flor with his abstract, Futuristic style. The indigenous people of Tigua, Ecuador are also world-renowned for their traditional paintings.


Main article: Sport in Ecuador

The most popular sport in Ecuador, as in most South American countries, is football (soccer). Its best known professional teams include Barcelona and Emelec from Guayaquil; LDU Quito, Deportivo Quito, and El Nacional from Quito; Olmedo from Riobamba; and Deportivo Cuenca from Cuenca. Currently the most successful football club in Ecuador is LDU Quito, and it is the only Ecuadorian club that have won the Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana and the Recopa Sudamericana; they were also runners-up in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup. The matches of the Ecuadorian national team are the most-watched sporting events in the country. Ecuador qualified for the final rounds of both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. The 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign was considered a huge success for the country and its inhabitants. Ecuador finished in 2nd place on the qualifiers behind Template:Nft/code and above the team that would become World Champion, Template:Nft/code. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ecuador finished ahead of Template:Nft/code and Template:Nft/code to come in second to Template:Nft/code in Group A in the 2006 World Cup. Futsal, often referred to as índor, is particularly popular for mass participation.

There is considerable interest in tennis in the middle and upper classes of Ecuadorian society, and several Ecuadorian professional players have attained international fame. Basketball has a high profile, while Ecuador's specialties include Ecuavolley, a three-person variation of volleyball. Bullfighting is practiced at a professional level in Quito, during the annual festivities that commemorate the Spanish founding of the city, and it also features in festivals in many smaller towns. Rugby union is found to some extent in Ecuador, with teams in Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca.

Ecuador has won only two medals in the Olympic Games, both gained by 20 km racewalker Jefferson Pérez, who took gold in the 1996 games, and silver 12 years later. Pérez also set a world best in the 2003 World Championships of 1:17:21 for the 20 km distance.[30]

Migration trends

In recent decades, there has been a high rate of emigration due to the economic crisis that seriously affected the economy of the country in the 1990s, over 400,000 Ecuadorans left for Spain and Italy, and around 100,000 for the United Kingdom while several hundred thousand Ecuadorans live in the US, (450,000 by some estimates) mostly in the city of Northeast corridor. Many other Ecuadorans have emigrated across Latin America, thousands have gone to Japan and to Australia. One famous American of Ecuadoran descent is pop music vocalist Christina Aguilera.

In Ecuador there are about 100,000 American and 30,000 European Union expatriates. They move to Ecuador for business opportunities and as cheaper place for retirement.

As a result of the political conflict in Colombia and of the criminal gangs that had appeared in the areas of power vacuum a constant flow of refugees and asylum seekers as well as economic immigrants of Colombian origin had moved into Ecuadoran territory. Over the last decade a minimum of 45 000 persons are now residents in Ecuador and the government and international organizations are assisting them. According to the UNHCR 2009 report as many as 167,189 refugees and asylum seekers are temporary residents in Ecuador.[31]

Following the migratory trend to Europe many of the jobs that those that left held in the country had been taken over by Peruvian economic migrants. Those jobs are mostly in agriculture and unskilled labor. There are no official statistics but some press reports estimate their number into the tens of thousands.

There is a diverse community of Middle Eastern Ecuadorans, numbering in the tens of thousands, mostly from Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian descent; prominent in commerce and industry, and concentrated in the coastal cities of Guayaquil, Quevedo and Machala. They are well assimilated into the local culture and are referred commonly as "turcos" since the early migrants of these communities arrived with passports issued by the Ottoman Empire in the beginning of the century. See also: Lebanese people in Ecuador.

Ecuador is also home to communities of Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Portuguese, French, Britons and Greek-Ecuadorans. Ecuadoran Jews, who number around 450 are mostly of German or Italian descent. There are 225,000 English speakers and 112,000 German speakers in Ecuador of which the great majority reside in Quito, mainly all descendants of immigrants who arrived in the late 19th century and of retired emigrees that returned to their terroir. Most of the descendants of European immigrants strive for the preservation of their heritage. Therefore some groups even have their own schools (e.g. German School Guayaquil and German School Quito), Liceé La Condamine (French Heritage), Alberto Einstein (Jewish Heritage) and The British School of Quito (Anglo-British), cultural and social organizations, churches and country clubs. Their contribution for the social, political and economical development of the country is immense, specially in relation to their percentage in the total population. Most of the families of European heritage belong to the Ecuadoran upper class and had married into the wealthiest families of the country.

There is also a small Asian-Ecuadoran (see Asian Latino) community estimated in a range from 2,500 to 25,000, mainly consists of those having any amount of Chinese Yunan and Han descent, and possibly 10,000 being Japanese whose ancestors arrived as miners, farm hands and fishermen in the late 19th century. Guayaquil has an East Asian community, mostly Chinese including Taiwanese and Koreans.

See also

  • Ecuador Census


External links