Culture / Religion
Culture / Religion
Ecuador's population is ethnically diverse and the 2011 estimates put Ecuador's population at 15,007,343. The largest ethnic group (as of 2010) is the Mestizos, who are the descendants of Spanish colonists that interbred with Amerindian peoples, and constitute about 71% of the population. The White Ecuadorians (White Latin American) account for 6.1% of the population of Ecuador and can be found throughout all of Ecuador primarily around the urban areas. Even though Ecuador's white population during its colonial era were mainly descendants from Spain, today Ecuador's white population is a result of a mixture of European immigrants, predominantly from Spain with people from Italy, France, Germany, and Switzerland who have settled in the early 20th century. Ecuador also has people of middle eastern extraction that have also joined the ranks of the white minority. These include economically well off immigrants of Lebanese and Palestinian descent, who are either Christian or Muslim (Islam in Ecuador). In addition, there is a small European Jewish (Ecuadorian Jews) population, which is based mainly in Quito and to a lesser extent in Guayaquil. Amerindians account for 7% of the current population. The mostly rural Montubio population of the coastal provinces of Ecuador, who might be classified as Pardo account for 7.4% of the population. The Afro-Ecuadorians is a minority population (7%) in Ecuador, that includes the Mulattos and zambos, and are largely based in the Esmeraldas province and to a lesser degree in the predominantly Mestizo provinces of Coastal Ecuador - Guayas and Manabi. In the Highland Andes where a predominantly Mestizo, white and Amerindian population exist, the African presence is almost non-existent except for a small community in the province of Imbabura called Chota Valley.
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 Latin Rite (see List of Roman Catholic dioceses in Ecuador), 11.30% are Evangelical Protestants, 1.29% are Jehovah's Witnesses and 6.97% other (mainly Jewish, Buddhists and Latter-day Saints).
In the rural parts of Ecuador, Amerindian 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, Amerindian religions, Muslims (see Islam in Ecuador), Buddhists and Bahá'í. According to their own estimates, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accounts for about 1.4% of the population, or 211,165 members at the end of 2012. According to their own sources, in 2012 there were 77,323 Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.
The first Jews arrived in Ecuador in the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of them are Sephardic Anusim (Crypto-Jews) and many still speak Judaeo-Spanish (Ladino) language. Today the Jewish Community of Ecuador (Comunidad Judía del Ecuador) has its seat in Quito and has approximately 200 members. Nevertheless, this number is declining because young people leave the country for the United States 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. There are very small communities in Cuenca. The "Comunidad de Culto Israelita" reunites the Jews of Guayaquil. This community works independently from the "Jewish Community of Ecuador" and is composed of only 30 people.
The Ecuadorian constitution recognizes the "pluri-nationality" of those who want to exercise their affiliation with their native ethnic groups. Thus, in addition to criollos, mestizos, and Afro-Ecuadorians, some people belong to the Amerindian nations scattered in a few places in the coast, Quechua Andean villages, and the Amazonian jungle.
According to a 2015 genealogical DNA testing, the average Ecuadorian is estimated to be 52.96% Native American, 41.77% European, and 5.26% Sub-Saharan African overall.
The majority of Ecuadorians live in the central provinces, the Andes mountains, or along the Pacific coast. The tropical forest region to the east of the mountains (El Oriente) remains sparsely populated and contains only about 3% of the population. Birth rate is 2-1 for each death. Marriages are usually from 14 and above using parental consent. About 12.4% of the population is married in the ages 15–19. Divorce rates are moderate.
Population cities (2010)
Status According to the 2010 Census
Immigration and emigration
A small east Asian Latino community, estimated at 2,500, mainly consists of those of Japanese and Chinese descent, whose ancestors arrived as miners, farmhands and fishermen in the late 19th century.
In the early years of World War II, Ecuador still admitted a certain number of immigrants, and in 1939, when several South American countries refused to accept 165 Jewish refugees from Germany aboard the ship Koenigstein, Ecuador granted them entry permits.
In recent years, Ecuador has grown in popularity among North American expatriates. They're drawn there by the authentic cultural experience and beautiful natural surroundings. Also, Ecuador's favorable residency options make for an easy transition for those who decide to settle there indefinitely.
Another perk that draws many expats to Ecuador is its low cost of living. Since everything from gas to groceries costs far less than in North America, it's a popular choice for those who are looking to make the most of their retirement budget.
Even real estate in Ecuador is much less than its tropical counterparts. However, as more and more North Americans are discovering Ecuador's potential, property prices are beginning to rise from where they were a decade ago, particularly in the areas that are popular among expats and tourists.
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 twentieth 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, given the subjugation of the Amerindian people through proselytization 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 exists a small community of Africans among the province's predominantly mestizo population. These blacks are descendants of Africans, who were brought over from Colombia by Jesuits to work their colonial sugar plantations as slaves. As a general rule, small elements of zambos and mulattoes coexisted among the overwhelming mestizo population of coastal Ecuador throughout its history as gold miners in Loja, Zaruma, and Zamora and as 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 Amerindian communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees, but some may also practice their own native cultures, particularly the more remote Amerindian 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 language, such as Kichwa (also spelt Quichua), which is one of the Quechuan languages and is spoken by approximately 2.5 million people in Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. 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.
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 brought their influences together to create 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 societies), and so on. Tecnocumbia and Rockola are clear examples of the influence of foreign cultures. One of the most traditional forms of dancing in Ecuador is Sanjuanito. It's originally from northern Ecuador (Otavalo-Imbabura). Sanjuanito is a type of dance music played during festivities by the mestizo and Amerindian communities. According to the Ecuadorian musicologist Segundo Luis Moreno, Sanjuanito was danced by Amerindian people during San Juan Bautista's birthday. This important date was established by the Spaniards on June 24, coincidentally the same date when Amerindian 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 course that includes rice and a protein, 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, Cocoa beans (to make chocolate), shrimp, tilapia, mango, 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 Amerindian 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 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 Amerindian 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 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; Juan A. Martinez with A la 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, and Luis Alberto Costales; the novelist Enrique Gil Gilbert; the novelist Jorge Icaza (author of the novel Huasipungo, translated to many languages); the short story author Pablo Palacio; and the novelist Alicia Yanez Cossio.
In spite of Ecuador's considerable mystique, it is rarely featured as a setting in contemporary western literature. One exception is "The Ecuadorian Deception," a murder mystery/thriller authored by American Bear Mills. In it, George d'Hout, a website designer from the United States is lured under false pretenses to Guayaquil. A corrupt American archaeologist is behind the plot, believing d'Hout holds the keys to locating a treasure hidden by a buccaneer ancestor. The story is based on a real pirate by the name of George d'Hout who terrorized Guayaquil in the 16th Century.
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 Constanté, Luis Molinari, Araceli Gilbert, Judith Gutierrez, Felix Arauz, and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement; Teddy Cobeña from expressionism and figurative style and Luis Burgos Flor with his abstract, futuristic style. The Amerindian 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. Its best known professional teams include Liga De Quito from Quito; Emelec from Guayaquil; Deportivo Quito, and El Nacional from Quito; Olmedo from Riobamba; and Deportivo Cuenca from Cuenca. Currently the most successful football team in Ecuador is LDU Quito, and it is the only Ecuadorian team that has 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 has qualified for the final rounds of the 2002, the 2006, & the 2014 FIFA World Cups. The 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign was considered a huge success for the country and its inhabitants. The unusually high elevation of the home stadium in Quito often affects the performance of visiting teams. Ecuador finished in 2nd place in the CONMEBOL qualifiers behind Argentina and above the team that would become World Champions, Brazil. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ecuador finished ahead of Poland and Costa Rica finishing second behind Germany in Group A in the 2006 World Cup. They were defeated by England in the second round.
Ecuador has won only two medals in the Olympic Games, both gained by 20-km (12 mi) 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 (12 mi) distance.
The current structure of the Ecuadorian public health care system dates back to 1967. The Ministry of the Public Health (Ministerio de Salud Pública del Ecuador) is the responsible entity of the regulation and creation of the public health policies and health care plans. The Minister of Public Health is appointed directly by the President of the Republic. The current minister, or Ecuadorian general surgeon, is Margarita Guevara.
The philosophy of the Ministry of Public Health is the social support and service to the most vulnerable population, and its main plan of action lies around communitarian health and preventive medicine.
The public healthcare system allows patients to be treated without an appointment in public general hospitals by general practitioners and specialists in the outpatient clinic (Consulta Externa) at no cost. This is done in the four basic specialties of pediatric, gynecology, clinic medicine, and surgery. There are also public hospitals specialized to treat chronic diseases, target a particular group of the population, or provide better treatment in some medical specialties. Some examples in this group are the Gynecologic Hospitals, or Maternities, Children Hospitals, Geriatric Hospitals, and Oncology Institutes.
Although well-equipped general hospitals are found in the major cities or capitals of provinces, there are basic hospitals in the smaller towns and canton cities for family care consultation and treatments in pediatrics, gynecology, clinical medicine, and surgery.
Community health care centers (Centros de Salud) are found inside metropolitan areas of cities and in rural areas. These are day hospitals that provide treatment to patients whose hospitalization is under 24 hours. The doctors assigned to rural communities, where the Amerindian population can be substantial, have small clinics under their responsibility for the treatment of patients in the same fashion as the day hospitals in the major cities. The treatment in this case respects the culture of the community.
The public healthcare system should not be confused with the Ecuadorian Social Security healthcare service, which is dedicated to individuals with formal employment and who are affiliated obligatorily through their employers. Citizens with no formal employment may still contribute to the social security system voluntarily and have access to the medical services rendered by the social security system. The Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS) has several major hospitals and medical sub-centers under its administration across the nation.
Ecuador currently ranks 20, in most efficient health care countries, compared to 111 back in the year 2000. Ecuadorians have a life expectancy of 75.6 years. The infant mortality rate is 13 per 1,000 live births, a major improvement from approximately 76 in the early 1980s and 140 in 1950. 23% of children under five are chronically malnourished. Population in some rural areas have no access to potable water, and its supply is provided by mean of water tankers. There are 686 malaria cases per 100,000 people. Basic health care, including doctor's visits, basic surgeries, and basic medications, has been provided free since 2008. However, some public hospitals are in poor condition and often lack necessary supplies to attend the high demand of patients. Private hospitals and clinics are well equipped but still expensive for the majority of the population.
The Ecuadorian Constitution requires that all children attend school until they achieve a "basic level of education", which is estimated at nine school years. In 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 96.9%, and 71.8% of children stayed in school until the fifth grade. The cost of primary and secondary education is borne by the government, but families often face significant additional expenses such as fees and transportation costs.
Provision of public schools falls far below the levels needed, and class sizes are often very large, and families of limited means often find it necessary to pay for education. In rural areas, only 10% of the children go on to high school. The Ministry of Education states that the mean number of years completed is 6.7.
Ecuador has 61 universities, many of which still confer terminal degrees according to the traditional Spanish education system, honoring a long tradition of having some of the oldest universities in the Americas: University of San Fulgencio, founded in 1586 by the Augustines; San Gregorio Magno University, founded in 1651 by the Jesuits; and University of Santo Tomás of Aquino, founded in 1681 by the Dominican order.
Among the traditional conferred terminal degrees can be noted the doctorate for medicine and law schools or engineering, physics, chemistry, or mathematics for polytechnic or technology institutes. These terminal degrees, as in the case of the PhD in other countries, were the main requirement for an individual to be accepted in academia as a professor or researcher. In the professional realm, a terminal degree granted by an accredited institution automatically provides a professional license to the individual.
However, in 2004, the National Council of Higher Education (CONESUP), started the reorganization of all the degree-granting schemes of the accredited universities in order to pair them with foreign counterparts. The new structure of some careers caused the dropping of subjects, credits, or even the name of the previously conferred diplomas. The terminal degree in law, previously known as JD Juris Doctor (Doctor en Jurisprudencia) was replaced by the one of abogado (attorney) with the exception of the modification of the number of credits to equate it to an undergraduate degree. In the same fashion for medical school, the required time of education was considerably reduced from nine years (the minimum needed to obtain the title of MD in Medicine and Surgery) to almost five, with the provision that the diploma is not terminal anymore, and it is given with the title of médico (medic). Therefore, an MD or PhD in medicine is only to be obtained overseas until the universities adjust themselves to granting schemes and curriculum as in foreign counterparts. Nonetheless, a "médico" can start a career as family practitioner or general medicine physician.
This new reorganization, although very ambitious, lacked the proper path to the homologation of diplomas for highly educated professionals graduated in the country or even for the ones graduated in foreign institutions. One of the points of conflict was the imposition of obtaining foreign degrees to current academicians. As today, a master's degree is a requirement to keep an academic position and at least a foreign PhD to attain or retain the status of rector (president of a university) or décano (dean). For Ecuadorian researchers and many academicians trained in the country, these regulations sounded illogical, disappointing, and unlawful since it appeared a question of a title name conflict rather than specialization or science advancement.
A debate to modify this and other reforms, especially the one which granted control of the Higher Education System by the government, was practically passed with consensus by the multi-partisan National Assembly on August 4, 2010, but vetoed by President Rafael Correa, who wanted to keep the law strictly as it was originally redacted by his political party and SENPLADES (National Secretary of Planning and Development). Due to this change, there are many highly educated professionals and academicians under the old structure but estimated that only 87% of the faculty in public universities have already obtained a master's degree, and fewer than 5% have a PhD (although many of them already have Ecuadorian-granted doctorate degrees).
About 300 institutes of higher education offer two to three years of post-secondary vocational or technical training.
Sciences and research
Ecuador is currently placed in 96th position of innovation in technology. The most notable icons in Ecuadorian sciences are the mathematician and cartographer Pedro Vicente Maldonado, born in Riobamba in 1707, and the printer, independence precursor, and medical pioneer Eugenio Espejo, born in 1747 in Quito. Among other notable Ecuadorian scientists and engineers are Lieutenant Jose Rodriguez Lavandera, a pioneer who built the first submarine in Latin America in 1837; Reinaldo Espinosa Aguilar (1898–1950), a botanist and biologist of Andean flora; and José Aurelio Dueñas (1880–1961), a chemist and inventor of a method of textile serigraphy.
The major areas of scientific research in Ecuador have been in the medical fields, tropical and infectious diseases treatments, agricultural engineering, pharmaceutical research, and bioengineering. Being a small country and a consumer of foreign technology, Ecuador has favored research supported by entrepreneurship in information technology. The antivirus program Checkprogram, banking protection system MdLock, and Core Banking Software Cobis are products of Ecuadorian development.
The scientific production in hard sciences has been limited due to lack of funding but focused around physics, statistics, and partial differential equations in mathematics. In the case of engineering fields, the majority of scientific production comes from the top three polytechnic institutions: Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral - ESPOL, Universidad de Las Fuerzas Armadas - ESPE, and Escuela Politécnica Nacional EPN.
EPN is known for research and education in the applied science, astronomy, atmospheric physics, engineering and physical sciences. The Geophysics Institute monitors over the country's volcanoes in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador and in the Galápagos Islands, all of which is part of the Ring of Fire. EPN adopted the polytechnic university model that stresses laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering.
The oldest observatory in South America is the Quito Astronomical Observatory and is located in Quito, Ecuador. The Quito Astronomical Observatory, which gives the global community of a Virtual Telescope System that is connected via the Internet and allows the world to watch by streaming, is managed by EPN.
Contemporary Ecuadorian scientists who have been recognized by international institutions are Eugenia del Pino (born 1945), the first Ecuadorian to be elected to the United States National Academy of Science, and Arturo Villavicencio, who was part of the working group of the IPCC, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for their dissemination of the effects of climate change.
Currently, the politics of research and investigation are managed by the National Secretary of Higher Education, Science, and Technology (Senescyt).