Cultures and Customs of Ecuador

Ecuador is a multicultural, multi-ethnic nation with one of the largest indigenous cultures in South America. The ‘Mestizos’ (descendants of Spanish Colonists and indigenous people), account for nearly 70% of the population with indigenous groups accounting for around 10% and Afro-Ecuadorians (descendants of black slaves) accounting for another 7%.

Indigenous population

Quechua children, one of the indigenous cultures.

Quechua children, one of the indigenous cultures. Photo credit: Harvard University.

Ecuadorian culture has distinct roots in its rich and multi-ethnic history with both indigenous and colonial influences. Many indigenous customs are only practiced by indigenous communities, whereas other customs have been adopted throughout Ecuadorian culture. Foods that originated from the Amazonian and Andean regions such as yucca, corn and plantains are now consumed throughout the country. Shamanism is also not limited to indigenous communities, but is used as an important medical resource across Ecuador, traditional and alternative medicines being officially recognized. Quichua-speaking Amazonian shamans and coastal Tschachila healers are generally treated with the utmost of respect by all Ecuadorians, irrespective of class. The use of ayahuasca (‘soul vine’ in Quichua), is widespread throughout the country and has attracted international attention from medical personal, pharmaceutical companies and foreign tourists.

Cultures and dress codes

Ecuadorian textiles

Ecuadorian textiles. Photo credit: shutterstock

Ecuadorians have a distinctive dress code that indicates the region that they come from. Their dress displays specific cultural diversities that are characteristic of that particular region. In the Quito area, men typically wear blue ponchos and calf-length trousers. Andean women tend to wear white blouses, colourful shawls and layers of gold and red coral bracelets.

Ecuadorian festivals

Ecuador has a long tradition of colourful festivals and fiestas that include the following:

Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi Festival celebrated in Ecuador and Peru.

Inti Raymi Festival celebrated in Ecuador and Peru. Photo credit: deperu.com

Inti Raymi: This “Festival of the Sun” is held in June to celebrate the winter solstice

Yamor

Ecuadorian people dancing

Ecuadorian festival. Photo credit: Chimu Advventures

Yamor: Celebrated in Otavalo in early September

Mama Negra

Mama Negra Fesitval in Ecuado

Mama Negra Fesitval in Ecuador. Photo credit: El Universo

Mama Negra: This pagan celebration held in November in Latacunga dates back to the Spanish conquest

Ecuador will captivate you with diverse scenery and a fascinating and colourful culture. It makes it an immensely rewarding country to visit. Take a look at our extensive collection of Ecuador tours and come discover South America. Click here for more information about Chimu. 

Author: Helen Dwyer

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