Ecuador at a Glance
Living in Ecuador
The Country of the Mestizos
Ecuador has a population of almost 16 million (as of August 2015). It is a very young population, too, with the median age being 26 years. More than two-thirds of residents live in the country’s large cities, such as Guayaquil, Quito, or Cuenca. As those cities are also large expat magnets in their own right, we have covered them in our article on moving to Ecuador.
Ethnically, the majority — about 72% — of Ecuadorians today are Mestizo, a group of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. Another 7% of the population is made up by Amerindian peoples. This is not a homogenous group, but consists of various ethnicities itself. Seven percent of the nation’s residents are white, i.e. people of European descent. Apart from these groups, there are also sizeable communities of people of African and Asian heritage living in Ecuador.
Ecuador’s Languages: Spanish and Quichua
The main language you will hear in Ecuador is, obviously, Spanish, which is both the official and most commonly spoken language. There is, however, a second widespread tongue, due to the large Native American population in Ecuador: Kichwa, also known in Spanish as Quichua. Rooted in the native language of the Inca, Kichwa is spoken by a considerable portion of residents living in Ecuador and is also the nation’s second official language. Some other Amerindian languages also exist in the country, none of which, however, is as significant as Kichwa.
You should not expect too many people you meet outside a business context to be fluent in English, so we highly recommend acquiring at least a basic knowledge of Spanish before you start your time abroad in Ecuador.
Seeing how the ethnic makeup of the population is fairly diverse, it should not take anyone by surprise that this diversity has also left its marks on the national culture. The mix of various Amerindian traditions coupled with the influence of the culture that came to the country with the European conquests has created a quite unique way of life. Later immigration, for example by Africans, has also contributed many important facets to the culture that makes living in Ecuador so fascinating.
The many religious and secular holidays you will experience in Ecuador are just as diverse and range from celebrations in honor of the patron saint of the city you are in to Catholic and indigenous festivals to national holidays such as the founding and independence days of the nation’s large cities.
If you are interested in what Ecuador has in store for your taste buds, and we are sure there is something for every taste, you might want to visit the Ecuador Travel page of the Ministry of Tourism.
Living at the Equator
As you might have guessed from the country’s name, living in Ecuador is roughly equivalent to living right at the equator. The country’s diverse geographic regions, which we have taken a look at in our article on moving to Ecuador, make for very diverse weather. The coastal regions are tropical, and as you venture deeper into the country and the Andes, temperatures drop steadily. The Amazon region again features tropical weather.
The only two seasons you will experience in Ecuador are the dry season — summer — and the wet season, the Ecuadorian winter. Again, the geography has considerable influence on the seasons: the coastal regions, for example, are strongly affected by ocean currents.
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