Ecuadorians are people identified with Ecuador, a country in South America, its citizens or their descendants abroad who identify with the Ecuadorian culture and descent. Ecuador is a multiethnic society, a home to people of various ethnic origins; as a result, Ecuadorians do not equate their nationality with their ethnicity, but rather their allegiance or affinity for Ecuador. Majority of Ecuadorians trace their origins to one or more of three geographical sources of human migrations to the territory of modern Ecuador: the pre-Hispanic indigenous populations who settled the region over 15,000 years ago, the Europeans (principally Spaniards which are also the source of the Spanish language) who arrived over five centuries ago, and ultimately the sub-Saharan Africans who were imported to New Spain as slaves 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 71.9% of the current population. Whites are estimated at 6.1% and consist largely of those of unmixed or predominant European descent. Most white Ecuadorians 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. There are also 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 7% of the population. Afro-Ecuadorians 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).
The Ecuadorian census is conducted by the governmental institution known as INEC, Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas y Censos (National Institute of Statistics and Census). The census in Ecuador is conducted every ten 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 following table shows the dates the most recent censuses were made, and the total population number:
Index of growth:
According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects the total population was 16,385,068 in 2016, compared to only 3,470,000 in 1950.
Structure of the population (01.07.2013) (Estimates – excludes nomadic Indian tribes.
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated. Population: 15,007,343 (July 2011 est.)
Population growth rate
Net migration rate
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS
HIV/AIDS – deaths
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 dialects 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.
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.
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.
Nationality, ethnicity, and race
Ecuador's population descends from Spanish immigrants and indigenous South American Indians, admixed with descendants of black slaves who arrived to work on coastal plantations in the sixteenth century. The mix of these groups is described as mestizo or cholo. 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. In 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.
According to Kluck, writing in 1989, ethnic groups in Ecuador have had a traditional hierarchy of white, mestizo, blacks, and then others. Her review depicts this hierarchy as a consequence of colonial attitudes and of the terminology of colonial legal distinctions. Spanish-born persons residing in the New World (peninsulares) were at the top of the social hierarchy, followed by criollos, born of two Spanish parents in the colonies. The 19th century usage of mestizo was to denote a person whose parents were an Indian and a white; a cholo had one Indian and one mestizo parent. By the 20th century, mestizo and cholo were frequently used interchangeably. Kluck suggested that societal relationships, occupation, manners, and clothing all derived from ethnic affiliation.
Nonetheless, according to Kluck, individuals could potentially switch ethnic affiliation if they had culturally adapted to the recipient group; such switches were made without resort to subterfuge. Moreover, the precise criteria for defining ethnic groups varies considerably.
A geography of ethnicity remained well-defined until the surge in migration that began in the 1950s.
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.
Ecuador has a population of about 1,120,000 descendants from African people.
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.
The Indians of the Sierra are separated from whites and mestizos by a castelike gulf.
Visible markers of ethnic affiliation, especially hairstyle, dress, and language, separate Indians from the rest of the populace.
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.
In the late 1970s, roughly 30,000 Quichua speakers and 15,000 Jívaros lived in Oriente Indian communities.
Both the Yumbos and the Jívaros depended on agriculture as their primary means of subsistence.
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.
The Oriente Indian population dropped precipitously during the initial period of intensive contact with outsiders.
Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its Hispanic mestizo
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
Ecuador's indigenous communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees, 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. People that identify as mestizo, in general, speak Spanish as their native language. 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.
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 those with a religion, 80.44% are Roman Catholic, 11.30% are Protestants, and 8.26% other (mainly Jewish, Buddhists and Latter-day Saints).
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. There are about 185,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and over 80,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.
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. 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.
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". Jewish visitors to Ecuador can also take advantage of Jewish resources as they travel and keep kosher there, even in the Amazon Rainforest. The city has also synagogue of Messianic Judaism.
The music of Ecuador has a long history.
Tecnocumbia and Rockola are clear examples of foreign cultures' influence. One of the most traditional forms of dancing in Ecuador is Sanjuanito. It is 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 24 June, 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, 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, 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, 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", 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 a Costa, Dolores Veintimilla, 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.
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 the 2002, 2006, and 2014 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 Argentina and above the team that would become World Champion, Brazil. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ecuador finished ahead of Poland and Costa Rica to come in second to Germany 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.
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.
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 Ecuadorians left for Spain and Italy, and around 100,000 for the United Kingdom while several hundred thousand Ecuadorians live in the US, (500,000 by some estimates) mostly in the cities of the Northeastern corridor. Many other Ecuadorians have emigrated across Latin America, thousands have gone to Japan and Australia. One famous American of Ecuadorian descent is pop music vocalist Christina Aguilera.
In Ecuador there are about 100,000 Americans and over 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 migrants of Colombian origin had moved into Ecuadorian territory. Over the last decade at least 45,000 displaced people are now residents in Ecuador, the Ecuadorian 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.
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 Ecuadorians, 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-Ecuadorians. Ecuadorian 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 Ecuadorian upper class and had married into the wealthiest families of the country.
There is also a small Asian-Ecuadorian (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, Filipinos and Japanese.