Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Culture of Ecuador

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Culture of Ecuador

Culture of EcuadorThe culture of Ecuador is as diverse as the landscape of the country itself. The majority of the Ecuadorian population is mestizo, meaning that Amerindian and European cultures have been blended together, along with influences from slaves from Africa. 95% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic.  Ecuador can be split up into three parts, geographically; the Costa (coast), the Sierra (mountains) and El Oriente (the east; which includes the Galapagos islands, or Archipelago de Colón as they are called in Ecuador) El Oriente is characterized by rainforest, the sierra by the snow-capped Andes, and the costa by lowlands that are highly fertile and used for agriculture.


Ecuadorians place great importance on the family, both nuclear and extended. Unlike in much of the West, where the elderly are often placed in care facilities geared towards people of advanced age, the elderly Ecuador will often live with their youngest son and his wife. Godparents are also far more important in Ecuador than in the West, and they are expected to provide both financial and psychological support to their godchildren, for example, Ecuadorians with marital troubles will often ask their godparents for advice.


Women are generally responsible for the upbringing and care of children in Ecuador, and traditionally, men have taken a less active role in this area, though recently, this has begun to change, with many men doing housework and caring for children when women work away from home. Girls must ask for permission before dating a boy alone. At 15, girls often have a "coming of age" party, featuring a Catholic ceremony and food, drinks and dancing.


As with almost all of Latin America, Ecuadorians are ardent fútbol fanatics, and the country is very successful in international tournaments of the sport. Alongside soccer, volleyball is also common, though it is played differently to Western volleyball. The ball is much heavier and there are only three players per team. Bullfighting, a legacy of Spanish colonisation, is held annually at a large festival in Quito. Forms of entertainment popular worldwide are found in Ecuador also, including darts and card games for adults and marbles, hopscotch and skipping ropes popular pastimes for children. Fishing, especially for the enormous bagre catfish, which is found at the bottom of rivers and can weigh up to 100kg, is very popular. Bull sharks are often caught in rivers also. Duing December in Quito, a grand celebration is held lasting for days, called "Las fiestas de Quito"


Most Ecuadorians speak Spanish, though many speak Amerindian languages such as Quechua. Though most features of Ecuadorian Spanish are universal in the Spanish-speaking world, there are several idiosyncracies, including the grunting of "uh-uh", which in most parts of the world (including in English) means no, but in Eucador, means yes. Costeños tend to speak more quickly than serranos. Whistling, yelling or yawning to get someone's attention is considered rude. Many gestures are used in Ecuador, including the lifting of the chin to indicate "up the street" when giving directions, and lowering of the chin to indicate "down the street".
Art and Literature  

Graffiti is integral to the urban culture of Quito. Nearly every wall of the city is covered in it, leading to the rise of the saying "No wall is blank in Quito". Graffiti is usually artistic or political, and often poetic. There is so much graffiti that politicians often quote what is written on Quito's walls! Music is very important in Ecuador, with pan pipes, flutes of bamboo, violins, drums and ukeleles all played often. Popular tunes played at fiestas include "Rosa Maria" and "El Condor Pasa". Sanjuanita is a popular style of dance.
Ambato, a city in central Ecuador, is known as the "City of the three Juans", with Juan Montalvo (a novelist and essayist), Juan Leon Mera (author of the lyrics to of Ecuador's national anthem, "Salve, Oh Patria") and Juan Benigo Vela (another novelist and essayist) all sharing it as a place of birth.

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Last Modified 8/1/06 3:40 PM