Culture of Ecuador

From Academic Kids

The culture of Ecuador is as diverse as the landscape of the country itself. The majority of the Ecuadorian population is mestizo, a mixture of both European and Amerindian ancestry, and much like their ancestry, the national culture is also a blend of these two sources, 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 Archipiélago de Colón as they are called in Ecuador)

El Oriente is characterised by rainforest, the sierra by the snow-capped Andes, and the costa by lowlands that are highly fertile and used for agriculture.

Contents

Family

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.

Families are formed in at least one of the following three ways: Civil Marriage (which is the legal form of officialising a bond between a man and a woman and which all married couples are required to undergo), the Religious Marriage (which, Ecuador being a predominantly Catholic country, usually means a marriage ceremony sanctified by the Catholic Church) and the Free Union (or Unión Libre, where a man and a woman decide to form a family without undergoing any official ceremony). The Ecuadorian Constitution accords the members of a Free Union family the same rights and duties as in any other other legally constituted family.

Women

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 quinceañera party, featuring a Catholic ceremony and food, drinks and dancing.

Sports and Entertainment

As with almost all of Latin America, Ecuadorians are ardent fútbol fans, and the national team has shown some successes in international tournaments of the sport in the last few years - for the first time in history it won a place in the World Cup Tournament (the 2002 event hosted by Japan and South Korea).

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.

In athletics, Jefferson Pérez gave Ecuador its first ever Olympic gold medal in 1996.

Other 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.

During December the inhabitants of Quito celebrate its Foundation Day, which includes a grand celebration lasting for days, called Las fiestas de Quito. The high point of the fiestas is the Corrida de Toros, in which internationally renowned bull fighters are invited to show off their prowess in the arena.

Cuisine

An Ecuadorian's day, at least as far as his or her diet is concerned, is centred around lunch, rather than dinner as in Western cultures.

There is no one food that is especially Ecuadorian, as cuisine varies from region to region of the country. For example, costeños (people from the coast) prefer fish, beans and plantains(unripened banana like fruits), while serranos from the mountainous regions prefer meat, rices and potatoes.

Some examples of Ecuadorian cuisine in general include patacones, unripe bananas fried in oil, mashed up and then refried, and seco de chivo, a type of stew made from goat.

One food Ecuador has given the world is beef jerky, the name of which comes from a Quechua word, charqui.

Language

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 idiosyncrasies, including the grunting of "uh-uh", which in most parts of the world (including in English) means no, but in Ecuador, 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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