Ecuador Cultures

When we speak about Ecuador Cultures we must go back in time to the Pre-Columbian Cultures.

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This were ethnic groups that lived in America before the arrival of Columbus.

We do not refer to these people that inhabited pre-columbian America as tribes, they are cultures, ethnic groups.

At that time, North, Central and South America housed cultures that lived for many centuries, however, these cultures to the eyes of the Spaniards were poor and primitive.

Amazon Indian

amazon rainforest indian

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In reality, these were and some still are, cultures developed in many ways who saw the world and life in a different manner.

Some of these cultures have remained isolated, and developed their own style of dress, artistic expression, spiritual beliefs, etc.

In the sixteenth century, with the advance of Christianity, many of these cultures lost ground as to their religion, language, and arts, and learned new ones brought by the Europeans.

The Spaniards imposed the Christian religion to the Ecuador people, and to this day, many of the indigenous cultures have adopted the Catholic religion.

However they maintain their original language, dress and artistic expressions.

Some Ecuador People and Cultures are still isolated and had little or no contact with the new comers, and to this day maintain their way of life as their ancestors have lived for way over 500 years.

In Ecuador, when we speak of mega-diversity we speak not only of our magnificent biological world, but we also refer to Ecuador's human factor.

Ecuador's bio-diversity and ethnic-diversity is rich and different, with characteristics depending on the natural environment of the Coast, the Highlands and the Rain forest.

Following is a good description of each of the ethnic groups that actually still live in this beautiful country of Ecuador:

Ecuador Cultures in the Amazon Rain Forest

Many archaeologists sustain that some of the oldest cultures that survived (over 10,000 years) are actually from this tropical humid rain forest, impossible to reach for many centuries.

In the "Cosmo Vision" of these indigenous Ecuador and people groups, the human being is a part of the Amazanga (Rainforest) and the human spirit wanders in this forest every dawn.

The human spirit can enter an eagle or a serpent or a jaguar each one with a symbolism as to their nature according to their beliefs.

The Rain Forest provides their food, medicinal plants (herbs), and spiritual richness.

To these Ecuador cultures, the tropical rain forest is their home, their drugstore, supermarket and their religion, thus, their extreme respectto the ecological balance.

These people are not naturalists nor consumers. They are apparently very poor (according to modern world economical standards).

However, they have a rich spiritual life and live in peace surrounded by their families, taking from nature only what they need to survival and taking time to meditate and enlighten their spiritual selves.

If you visit Ecuador, you should consider sharing a few days of their normal lives which is an incredibly enriching experience.

The Kapawi project has considered this, and offers a fantastic opportunity. See Our Recommended Amazon Jungle Tours

The Ashuar Community, together with a tourist company, are co-managing this unique travel experience

Ecuador Cultures from the Highlands

ecuador indians

The cultures of the highlands are by no means the oldest but the most visited and known, probably because of their geographical location on the Andean Highlands with access by roads and highways.

Many of these communities share their lives with other cultures of Ecuador and it is fantastic how they still maintain their cultural manifestations through dress, language (Quichua), and festivities.

Just 100 Km north of Quito you can visit Otavalo Indian Market, a must for any tourist that comes to Ecuador.

This market offers wonderful hand made weavings, tapestry, rugs, bags and more products of the hard working community of Otavalo People

These people are very skillful and artistic. Families work together and then sell their products together at the fair. Transactions take place most quietly with bargaining and all.

These are one of the proudest Ecuador cultures that have not lost their cultural identity despite the fact that Otavalo city is inhabited by mestizos and whites as well, and also that they all have televisions to expose them to the modern globalized world.

Otavalo Indians travel around the world merchandising their goods.

You might find these Otavalo Indigenous people in your trips through many European capitals, absolutely identifiable through their unique dress.

Other Indian communities from the nearby villages also take their handicrafts to sell them at the famous Otavalo Fair.

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Ecuador Cultures from the Coast

The oldest known cultures of America lived on the Ecuadorian coast (8,800 a 3,500 B.C.). The cultures that subsist to this day are 3 different groups:

  • the Awa
  • the Chachis or Cayapas and
  • the Tsachilas or Colorados

These Ecuador cultures live in the Amazon Tropical Rain Forest on the west of the Andes Mountains and possibly settled there escaping from the invasion of the Incas from Peru (XV Century) or from Spaniards (XVI Century).

Visit Ecuador and experience its ancestral cultures. Explore and discover one of the "most fascinating" countries in South America.


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