People in Ecuador
17 million people live in Ecuador. However, the
population is not evenly distributed in the country. On
the one hand, it migrates to the cities and, on the
other hand, from the Andes highlands to the coastal
region. Half of the population now lives there, and only
38 percent in the highlands.
Most Ecuadorians have both white and indigenous
ancestors. 72 percent of the population is affected.
The Montubios have indigenous, black and white
ancestors. 7.4 percent of Montubios live in Ecuador,
specifically in the southern coastal regions,
particularly in the province of Salitre, 40 kilometers
north of Guayaquil. They often work in agriculture or
ranching. They have preserved their own culture with
their own music and dances as well as clothing. The men
traditionally wear sombreros, which are wide straw hats.
They love rodeos. They fought to be recognized as an
ethnic group in their own right, which happened in 2001.
7.2 percent of the population has African ancestors.
They are descendants of the slaves who were brought here
in the 16th century. Some are descendants of Maroons,
runaway slaves who hid from the Spanish colonial rulers
in the hinterland. The black Ecuadorians live mainly on
the coast and especially in the province of Esmeraldas,
in the far north.
6.1 percent of the population are white. They are
descendants of the Spaniards, but also of the French,
Italians and Germans. Around one million Ecuadorians
live outside their country, most of them emigrated to
the USA and Spain.
Kichwa and Shuar
7 percent of Ecuadorians are of indigenous descent.
The largest group are the Quechua, who are called
Kichwa in Ecuador. Their own name, which they give
themselves, is Runakuna. The Quechua ethnic groups live
all over the country, but mostly in the Andes. They
include, for example, Otavalos, Salasaca, Puruhá, Kañari,
Saraguros and Sarayaku.
The second largest indigenous group are the Shuar.
They live in the Amazon lowlands. Smaller groups are the
3400 Chachi in the rainforest, in the northwest of the
country, and the 2300 Tsáchila, who live on the western
slope of the Andes near the city of Santo Domingo de los
Colorados. The Spaniards called them Colorados (dyed
red) because the men traditionally dyed their hair red.
In the Amazon lowlands, around 2000 Achuar live on
the border with Peru, around 1650 Waorani (Huaorani) and
Sioni (250) in the interior and around 800 Cofán on the
border with Colombia.
The Shuar live in the higher areas of the Amazon
lowlands. They became known for the production of shrink
heads. Until the 19th century they made them as trophies
from the heads of defeated enemies. Pretty scary, isn't
it? Today, of course, the Shuar don't do that anymore,
but the heads of sloths are still made with shrunken
- Children: Every woman in Ecuador has an
average of 2.5 children. With us, every woman has an
average of 1.4 children.
- Urban and rural: 64 percent of Ecuador's
residents live in cities. So only around a third of
the population lives in rural areas. The most
densely populated is the coastal region, where half
of the inhabitants live. 38 percent live in the
Andes, 12 percent in the sparsely populated east of
the Amazon lowlands.
Languages in Ecuador
Spanish in Ecuador
Spanish is the official language in Ecuador. 93
percent of the population speak Spanish as their mother
tongue. The Spanish spoken in Ecuador is different from
the Spanish spoken in Spain.
There are also three dialects in Ecuadorian Spanish,
which can be assigned to the three regions coast, Andes
and Amazon lowlands. The Seseo is typical of all
variants ( c before e and i is pronounced like s, not
like the English th ).
Words from Quechua, for example ñaño for brother,
which means hermano in Spanish, have also found their
way into Ecuadorian Spanish. The oral use of the Voseo
is typical of the Andes region, which means that "you"
say vos instead of tu.
Languages of the Indians
Many of the indigenous peoples also speak their own
languages. There are still 65 indigenous languages in
total in Ecuador. Quechua (pronounced: Quechua), the
ancient language of the Inca, is of great importance. It
still has about a million speakers and is spoken in
several dialects. 4 percent of the population learn it
as their mother tongue.
Shuar is still spoken by around 50,000 to 100,000
people. Quechua and Shuar are the "official languages
for intercultural relations". They are not on an equal
footing with Spanish, but at least their importance is
The remaining indigenous languages each have no
more than 5000 speakers. Chachi (3500 speakers) and
Tsafiki (or Colorado, 2300 speakers of the Tsáchila)
belong to the Barbacoa languages.
Religions in Ecuador
74 percent of the population are Catholics (Roman
Catholic). 10.4 percent belong to a Protestant church.
1.2 percent are Jehovah's Witnesses. The rest are Jews,
Buddhists, Hindi or Muslims (6.4 percent in total) or do
not belong to any church (8 percent).
Ecuador Location on Map