Facts About Ecuador: The Light of America

Students from the dance team in the gym, performing in the Christmas Show. They are wearing traditional outfits as they dance.

Ecuador — one of the most biodiverse countries in the world — is home to a tropical coastline (La Costa), Andean highlands and volcanoes (La Sierra), a portion of the Amazonian jungle (La Amazonía), and the breathtaking Galapagos Islands. Ecuador straddles the equatorial line in South America and, due to the high elevation of the mountains, is the closest country to the sun. From Cotopaxi — the tallest active volcano in the world — to the Otavalo market — the largest market in South America — Ecuador is bursting with natural beauty and fascinating culture.

Alongside the breathtaking scenery, incredible art and towering cathedrals, there is also a large income inequality. Sadly, chronic malnutrition impacts 24% of children under age 5 in Ecuador. Recognizing that these challenges exist, today we’d love to share about the culture and traditions of these amazing people. Here are some interesting facts about Ecuador that will give you a peek into the country where tens of thousands of Compassion-assisted children live.

Key Facts About Ecuador

Here are some quick, interesting facts you should know about Ecuador.

  • Population: 16,904,867
  • Capital: Quito
  • Official language: Spanish (Quechua and other Indigenous languages are also spoken)
  • Area: 109,483 square miles — about the size of Nevada
  • Economy: Ecuador’s economy is substantially dependent upon the country’s petroleum resources. Other major exports include bananas, shrimp, coffee and cut flowers. Mining, agriculture and fishing are the most important industries. Another interesting fact is that Ecuadorians use the U.S. dollar as their legal currency.

Culture and Traditions of Ecuador

There are so many fun facts about Ecuador that it is difficult to choose what to share! Here’s just a little more about this fascinating country.

Religion: About three-quarters of Ecuadorians identify as Roman Catholic. Catholicism is deeply embedded in the culture, architecture and even politics of Ecuador. About 10% of the population identifies as evangelical, while the remaining people identify with other religions or as atheists.

Clothing: Since there are three distinct climate regions in Ecuador, clothing styles vary largely by location. Along the coast, Ecuadorians wear lightweight clothing. Women often wear dresses, and men wear “guayaberas” (loose-fitting shirts). In the Andean region, the clothing is more conservative. Men traditionally wear a blue poncho, a fedora, or a felt hat and white, calf-length knickers. Andean women traditionally wear a white blouse, a blue skirt, a shawl and a felt hat. In urban areas like the city of Quito, men and women wear jeans, T-shirts and styles similar to those in the United States.

General culture: Although the culture varies greatly by region, the majority of Ecuadorians identify as “mestizo,” which is a mix of Indigenous and European decent. While there remain isolated tribes in the Amazonian jungle, the majority of the Indigenous communities of Ecuador are found in the Andean highlands. Afro-Ecuadorians compose a small percentage of the population and are famous for their marimba music and dance festivals. Ecuador is home to five UNESCO world heritage sites — the city of Quito, the colonial town of Cuenca, Qhapaq Ñan (Andean Road System), the Galapagos Islands and Sangay National Park. Ecuadorians have a relaxed sense of time, with many stores closed on Sundays and for siestas in the afternoons. They also enjoy affectionate greetings that include a kiss on the cheek or a hug.

Music and Dance of Ecuador

Ecuador is home to a number of cultures that have distinct artistic styles. Ecuadorians love art, dance and music — these expressions play a large role in their culture.

In the Andean region of Ecuador, you might hear the haunting sounds of the “rondador” — chorded cane panpipes. However, bass drums, snare drums and stringed instruments are also played. Music in the Amazon region is a mix of traditional rhythms, tunes and instruments from the Amazon, Spanish and Andean cultures. The “Bomba del Chota” is an Afro-Ecuadorian style of music known for its use of marimbas.

The “Diablo Huma” dance is a notable form of Ecuadorian dance, featuring dancers in “devil head” masks. “Pasillo” is known as the “rhythm of Ecuador.” This Spanish-influenced music is popular throughout the country and has dance steps similar to the Viennese waltz.

In modern times reggaeton (popular Latin dance music), rock-and-roll, pop, jazz, blues, reggae and electronic music, as well as the Colombian “cumbia” style are commonly played.

Food and Drink of Ecuador

Ecuador has fertile land that produces a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Markets filled with plantains, potatoes, rice, corn, beans, bananas, mangos and pineapples and common throughout all regions of Ecuador. Meat such as pork, chicken, beef, and “cuy” (guinea pig), along with rice, potatoes, avocado and cheese, are commonly served in the mountainous region. Delicious seafood cuisine is very common along the coast.

Arroz Navideño is a classic Christmas and New Year dish served throughout Latin American. Made with rice, onion, bell peppers, raisins, nuts and ham, arroz Navideño is a colorful dessert! There is a surprising ingredient too — cola. Yes, the soda! It adds color and flavor to the dish. Feeling festive? Learn to make arroz Navideño!

Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche is a quintessential dish along the coast. The ingredients typically include shrimp, onion, tomatoes and bell peppers seasoned with limes, oranges and cilantro. It is often served with popcorn or plantain chips. Yum!

Cuy, or guinea pig, is a popular meat in the mountainous regions of Ecuador. It is typically barbecued and provides a great source of protein.

Colada morada is a traditional Ecuadorian drink that dates back to the pre-Hispanic era. During the holiday called the Day of the Dead, many Ecuadorians will celebrate by making this deep red and maroon beverage. The ingredients for this historic drink include herbs, blackberries, raspberries, corn flour, pineapple, strawberries, sugar and spices.

A Story From Ecuador: Cleaning Up God’s Creation

Armed with bags, gloves and a strong sense of purpose, about 350 Compassion-assisted children set out to clean the beaches and green spaces of their community. Samuel, Alejandra and Patricio are three of the many sponsored children from their center at a coastal Ecuadorian church who are fighting for their environment.

“I believe that as children of God, it is our duty to take care of the planet,” says Patricio.

The sponsored children and adolescents dedicate time each month to clear garbage and raise awareness as part of a church-led campaign. They are an example to the entire community of environmental stewardship.

“I think it is very important that we all clean the beaches and stop contaminating the sea, because that is where the fish and animals that are part of our food live, and if they die we would run out of food,” says Samuel.

The modernization of the local communities has led to an increase in plastic waste, especially in coastal towns. This waste often is found polluting the beaches and marine life. The aim of this campaign is to teach children the importance of taking care of their resources and valuing God’s creation!

“In the church we have learned that we must take care of God’s creation, that we must be good stewards of what God has given us, so we like to care for and clean the sea,” says Alejandra.

Read More Stories From Ecuador

BONUS: Fun Fact About Ecuador

Spanish-speaking Ecuadorians often use Quechuan expressions. Here are two that are popular and also really fun to say! “Arrarrai” with strongly rolled “rr” sounds means “hot” and is what you can say if you burn yourself. If you are chilly and shivering, you can say “achachai,” which means “cold.”

Photos of What Daily Life is Like in Ecuador

Do you want to keep learning about the beautiful country of Ecuador?

Facts About Compassion and Ecuador ›

Each week on the blog, we’re posting an article of facts about a different country where sponsored children live. Keep an eye out for the countries that interest you the most!

35 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Julie January 30, 2021

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Willene December 3, 2020

    Thank you Compassion for sharing this information on Ecuador. Very interesting to learn more about the country of my sponsored child.

  3. Dawn Pardun November 23, 2020

    Wonderful commentary about Ecuador!! Love hearing about its beauty and resources. Praying for the officials and Compassions leaders as they navigate With the people and the children thru these times. The LORD God is with you snd is mighty to save. He is your peace and He is faithful and trust worthy. Blessings

  4. Juan November 22, 2020

    gracias compassion por compartir datos sobre mi pais Ecuador estoy muy feliz por ser parte de compassion

  5. Patricia Schmidt Jameson November 19, 2020

    I enjoyed reading more about Ecuador where my sponsored child lives . I was also intrigued by the idea of sponsoring another child, one born on my birthday! However, I am 84 years old and don’t think it would be fair to the child. I have supported two boys through graduation, and am currently sponsoring a girl in her teens, but I don’t know if I’d be around to see another child graduate. Thank you for highlighting the various countries for us.
    Patricia Schmidt Jameson

  6. Tommy Elliott November 19, 2020

    Reading and seeing pictures of Ecuador was so appreciated. It really gave me some visual perceptions of the place my sponsored child lives.
    Thank you for putting this info together and making it available to us as sponsors. I hope someday to take a trip to meet my child.

  7. Karen November 18, 2020

    Thank you for this information. Would it be possible for you to put together a blog that included the individual compassion centers where we could see our compassion children? We would like to see them and know how they are doing during the pandemic. Especially right now when we are not getting letters from them.

    1. Christina November 19, 2020

      Karen, I completely understand your desire to learn more about your specific child’s center and see your kiddo more frequently. This has definitely been a difficult and heartbreaking year for everyone, especially with child letters being significantly delayed due to the global pandemic. We appreciate and value your feedback! Regrettably, since we work in 25 countries around the world and have thousands of church partners, it would not be possible for each center to be highlighted or for us to accept requests for certain centers to be featured. That being said, I think you have given us a wonderful suggestion, and our team will gladly consider this for future ideas. Thank you for the love and concern for your precious child and thank you for your faithful support!

  8. Judy Bennett November 18, 2020

    So happy to learn more about my child’s surroundings and culture. Thank you so much for sharing. I’d love to visit my little girl one day. I pray for God’s provision and protection. He is a faithful God.

  9. Judy Nesbitt November 18, 2020

    Thank you for this informative blog on Ecuador. We sponsor two children there and it is very helpful to visualize them at home and play by reading this and looking at the pictures. We are thankful to be a part of what God is doing with these precious children and their families.

  10. Hugh Miner November 18, 2020

    Thank you for showing all these wonderful faces and for the information. My wife and I sponsor a child in Ecuador’s part of the Amazon jungle. I don’t write very much about snow to her!

  11. Laura November 17, 2020

    I enjoyed learning about Ecuador since this is where my sponsored child lives. I did not realize the Galapagos Islands were part of Ecuador and that there were so many diverse regions – coastal, mountains and Amazonian jungle. Thank you for the information about the people and their customs.

    1. Shannon November 18, 2020

      Thank you so much for choosing to sponsor a sweet child in Ecuador! We are so thankful to hear this helped you to understand your little one better! Thanks for reading! ?

  12. KELLY REUM November 17, 2020

    Thank you. I need to learn Spanish so I can communicate better when I get a chance to visit.

  13. Cassandra Bembry November 17, 2020

    This is wonderful information!!!! I feel closer to my sponsored child, and can better target my prayers over his life.

  14. Wanda Knudson November 17, 2020

    Thank you so very much for this. It helps me understand the Country of my sponsored child. It is comforting to know that he has such beauty around him. I pray more is sent about the Country my sponsored child is in. It brings his life closer to me. Thank you, again.

    1. Shannon November 18, 2020

      Thank you so much for your comment! We are honored to have you in our Compassion family! Thank you so much for choosing to bless a sweet child from Ecuador! We are thankful our blog was helpful in giving a little more insight to where your precious child lives!

  15. Diane November 17, 2020

    Thank you for sharing this information about where my sponsor child is from. I enjoyed hearing about the different parts of Ecuador. Very fascinating.

  16. D. Marylyn Kuivinen November 17, 2020

    I am in my 80’s and would appreciate a small amount of reading material about the country to refer to when I write to my child. It would help refresh my memory of what I have read here.

    Thank you for your desire for us to be knowledgeable about our children’s countries and activities.

    1. Kaye-Lin November 17, 2020

      Hello D. Marylyn! I am so glad that you found this blog about Ecuador so informative. We know that it is so valuable for sponsors to know about their child’s country and community. When you begin sponsoring a child, we do send a welcome booklet that shares information about your sponsored child’s community. We also try to have information available on our website. 🙂 If you did not receive your welcome booklet for your sponsored child, please let us know. We would be happy to make sure that we send another one to you. If you have any questions, please send us an email at [email protected]. We are happy to help!

  17. Pat Osterhouse November 17, 2020

    Love this! We were scheduled to visit in June of 2020, but Covid hit. Now we’re waiting for another opportunity to visit! I have enjoyed reading this and learning more about the country that Sabrina lives in,

  18. Mike Yates November 17, 2020

    Great blog. I visited there last year Lord willing I will go back next year.

  19. Eddie Brassell November 17, 2020

    I really enjoyed this! It brought me closer to my sponsored child.
    I was excitingly searching all the pictures to see my child could be found.
    Did not find her, but was not disappointed.

  20. Marilan Schaefer November 17, 2020

    I am a retired nurse of 40 years and a retired foster parent of 42 years I love learning about Ecuador the country that I am sponsoring a young girl from it is very interestingAnd helps me learn more about their culture the food and their lifestyle. Thank you so much for taking the time to send out this blog for all of us to read

  21. Dwight Clough November 17, 2020

    Love it. Thanks! Wish I knew which part of the country my sponsored child lives in. 🙂

    1. Kaye-Lin November 17, 2020

      Hi Dwight! 🙂 We are so glad that you enjoyed this blog! We are happy to see if we can give you additional information about what part of the country your sponsored child lives in. Would you please send us an email at [email protected] so that we can help you further? Thank you!

  22. Leslie Doyne November 17, 2020

    I sponsor a child in Ecuador. Thanks for sharing an insight on your culture and daily lifestyle activities. It sounds so beautiful and hope to travel there next year to do some volunteering and in hopes of meeting my sponso child.

  23. Terrance J Meaux November 17, 2020

    Thank you so much in sharing your culture, how awesome to see Gods beautiful creation and His love that is in all the people’s smiles and affection for each other. Always praying in God’s Kingdom thanks again Terrance Meaux

  24. Susan Ring November 17, 2020

    I love learning about Ecuador as our Compassion child Madeleine is from there. It certainly provides information to add to letters to her. Thank you

  25. Jeanine Black November 17, 2020

    Loved the Blog. I have been to Ecuador twice to see my sponsored children and it is a beautiful country with beautiful people.

  26. Linda A Conner November 17, 2020

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed it very much.

  27. Jim Loomis November 17, 2020

    Fantastic! This adds perspective and context to us for the child we sponsor.

  28. Danette Thompson November 17, 2020

    This Blog is Great! Thank you so much for sharing and the time to create! Thoroughly enjoyed this learning experience!!

  29. Dana Estes Salser November 17, 2020

    I am a School Nurse and I sponsor a child in Ecuador. Thank you so much for giving me an insight into where she lives. My prayer is that next year I will be able to go to Ecuador as a volunteer with the agency I work for and that I will be able to meet the girl I sponsor

  30. Constance Wellik November 17, 2020

    This was a fun read as well as informative. I enjoyed reading about Ecuador and about the people who live in the various regions.

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