Living in Ecuador?
Living in Ecuador
At a Glance:
- Ecuador is an ethnically and culturally diverse land, yet the Mestizo people still make up 72% of the population.
- Spanish is by far the most widely spoken language, but locals also continue to use other Amerindian dialects.
- As an equatorial country, the weather in Ecuador can vary from region to region, but in general there are only two distinct seasons — summer and the rainy season.
- Ecuador’s free public healthcare has seen dramatic improvements over the years; the country also offers private healthcare, as well as some English-speaking doctors.
- Due to the tropical climate, certain vaccinations are recommended before arrival.
- As petty crime and theft can be an issue in Ecuador, it is important to stay alert, particularly in the larger cities.
The Country of the Mestizos
Ecuador has a population of just over 16 million (as of July 2016); it is a very young population, too, with a median age of 27 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 of Amerindian peoples, and white Ecuadorians of European descent make up six percent of the country’s population. As well as these groups, there are also sizeable communities of people of African and Asian heritage.
Ecuador’s Languages: Spanish and Quichua
The main language you will hear in Ecuador is Spanish, which is both the official and most commonly spoken language. However, due to the large Native American population in Ecuador, there is a second official language: 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. Some other Amerindian languages also exist in the country, but none are as significant as Kichwa.
Outside of the business world, don’t expect too many people to be fluent in English; we highly recommend acquiring at least a basic knowledge of Spanish before moving to Ecuador.
A Cultural Melting Pot
The diverse ethnic makeup of the population has left its mark on the national culture. The mix of various Amerindian traditions coupled with the European influences has created a unique way of life. Later immigration, from Africa for example, has also contributed to the culture that makes living in Ecuador so fascinating.
The many religious and secular holidays you will experience in Ecuador range from celebrations in honor of the patron saint of the city, to indigenous festivals, to national holidays such as the founding days of the nation’s large cities.
From sampling the exotic flavors of the local cuisine to experiencing a whole range of outdoor activities in its three diverse regions, take a look at the Ecuador Travel page of the Ministry of Tourism if you are interested in discovering more of what Ecuador has in store.
Life on the Equator
Right on 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 Amazon and coastal regions are tropical, but as you venture deeper into the country and the Andes, temperatures steadily drop.
The 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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