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It is estimated that about 70% of the population live below the poverty line, so finding enough food to feed ones family is the prime concern for most of the population. Despite the struggle for survival for more than half of the population, Ecuadorians are very friendly and welcoming. They are very generous and open, and celebrate birthdays and special occasions with great enthusiasm.

quito ecuador click on the image to enlarge
Ecuadorians are very proud of their country and independence. They take pride in the natural beauty of their country, despise corrupt politicians that no matter what they say in the lead up to an election, continue to miss appropriate the countries wealth. As with most countries there is a friendly rivalry between the different regions. This is most obvious between the cities of Quito (in the mountains) and Guayaquil (on the coast) with each claiming that they are either more civilized, courteous, hardworking or have the better lifestyle.

Ecuador Bird click on the image to enlarge
While the official language is Spanish, many indigenous communities and regions continue to speak traditional languages such as Quechua, Awapit, Cha’palachi, Quichua Shimi and Huaotirio. The Amazon region is home to more than six hundred thousand Indigenous people from more than 14 different cultural groups including Cofán, Siona-Secoya, Shiwiar, Huaoranis, Achuar, Shuar, Záparo and Los Tagaeri.

quito ecuador click on the image to enlarge
The national sport is of course football (soccer) just like in every other South American country. Impromptu games are played everywhere with people of all ages showing off their skills. The national league games are played every weekend and when the national team plays the whole country practically comes to a stand still. Volleyball and basketball are also popular.

Following the economic crisis of 1999 more than half a million Ecuadorians migrated overseas. There are large communities in the United States, Spain and Italy, Canada and Japan. It is estimated that the total expatriate population is more than two million people.

Church Santa Barbara click on the image to enlarge
Churches and museums, particularly in Quito, are filled with art produced by indigenous artists that combine Spanish religious themes with local indigenous beliefs and symbols. This unique art was given the name Escuela puitena, which translates to Quito school. This school of art was replaced by the indigenista (indigenous school) after independence, when the preferred subjects became heroes of the revolution (independence movement), Ecuadorian landscapes and members of the new ruling government. Painters from this era include Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-1999), Camilo Egas (1889-1962) and Eduardo Kingman (1913-1997). You can view many of the works in Quito’s museums and galleries.

Ecuador also has numerous contemporary writers including Jorge Enrique, Benjamin Carrion, and Jorge Icaza, whose novel ‘Husasipungo’ has been translated into many languages. Short story specialist Pablo Palacio has sold millions of copies of his books that focus on travel adventures that talk about and inspire the human spirit. His books have also been translated into many languages and are available the world over.

quito ecuador click on the image to enlarge
The preferred music among the locals is Cumbia. Originating in Columbia, Cumbia is played everywhere including on buses and in restaurants. Salsa is also popular, particularly in the coastal regions. Ecuadorians of African descent are known for their Marimba music. The best places to hear both Salsa and Marimba music is in the province of Esmeraldas. Traditional Andean music is also popular and characterized by the extensive use of wind (various flutes) and percussion (drums and shakers) instruments, as well as catchy choruses. The best place to hear traditional Andean music is at Pena’s (local folk-music venues).

Ecuador Bird click on the image to enlarge
Catholicism is the predominant religion. Many local communities continue to believe in and practice traditional beliefs such as worshipping the earth, the mountains, and the sun. It is also common for indigenous people to practice a combination of Christianity and traditional beliefs and customs.

quito ecuador click on the image to enlarge
The food in Ecuador varies with the location. In the highlands a range of meats are available including Pork, chicken, or cuy (guinea pig) and are generally served with potato or rice. It is common for street vendors to sell roast pig (hornado) and potatoes. On the coastal lowlands there is an abundance of seafood including prawns, shrimp and lobster. There is also a range of fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown on the coastal plains. Fanesca, is a local soup that is made from 12 different types of beans including lima beans, lupini beans, green beans, etc and is usually served with seafood and rice.
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