Ecuador is a multiethnic and pluricultural nation. It has a population of more than 12.6 million. Of these, five and a half million live in the highlands. Six and a half million of Ecuador’s inhabitants live on the Pacific coast. The Amazon region is home to more than six hundred thousand inhabitants and nearly seventeen thousand live in the Galapagos Islands. More than 14 indigenous groups live on the Ecuadorian mainland, maintaining their own traditions and ways of life. The following are the principal indigenous groups of the Amazon region: Huaoranis, Achuar, Shuar, Cofán, Siona-Secoya, Shiwiar and Záparo.
Los Tagaeri, related to the Huaorani, are another group from this area. The Tageri were declared “intangible” by the State, in order to respect their wish to live far from civilization.
The principle indigenous groups of the highlands are the Quichua, Cañaris, and Saraguros. In northern Ecuador, live the Awa community. On the Pacific coast, live the Chachis, Cayapas, Tsáchilas, and Huancavilcas. The nations cities and villages are primarily populated by people of mixed race, white, and Afro-Ecuadorians, although large numbers of indigenous migrants have moved from the country to the city. This has caused some problems such as growth of slums, lack of housing and schools, unemployment, crime, among other issues.
The provinces with the greatest number of immigrants are Pichincha and Guayas. Migration abroad has also grown in recent years due to the economic crisis. The are sizable communities of Ecuadorians in the USA, Spain, and Italy. The official language of the country is Spanish, but other languages, such as Quichua Shimi, Awapit, Cha´palachi, Tsafiqui, Paicoca, A´ingae, Huaotirio, Shuar-chichan, and Záparo, are widely spoken in areas with large indigenous populations. The predominant religion is Catholicism but many communities still preserve their ancient beliefs of worship of the earth, the mountains, and the sun.
For an in-depth look at the distinct cultural past, present, and future of each of Ecuador's regions, please read the following pages:
•The Andean Highlands (Northern Region)
•The Andean Highlands (Southern Region)
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