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Ecuador History

With its relatively small territory, Ecuador has the biggest biodiversity per area in the world! Ecuador has 4 diverse and rich regions: the Oriental region (Amazon Rain forest), the Coastal region, the highland region, and finally the Galapagos Archipelago. Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America. It lies on both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres, and is divided by the equator which gave Ecuador its name in the 19th Century. Ecuador borders Colombia (North), Peru (South and East), and the Pacific Ocean (West).  The population is a about 12 million with Spanish the common language. Most of the indigenous population speaks Qujchua. In many schools English is the second language taught.  The country is 95% catholic.

When we speak of the Pre-Columbian Cultures, we refer to the ethnic groups that lived in America before the arrival of Columbus.  These peoples as tribes, they are cultures, ethnic groups. At that time, North, Central and South America housed cultures that lived for many centuries, however, these cultures, to the eyes of the Spaniards, were poor and "primitive". In reality, these were and some still are, cultures developed in many ways who saw the world and life in a different manner. Not having had writing, and due to the difficulty in communications, these cultures had remained isolated, and developed their own style of dress, artistic expression, spiritual beliefs, etc.  In the sixteenth century, with the advance of Christianity, many of these cultures lost ground as to their religion, language, and arts, and learned new ones brought by the Europeans. The Spanish imposed the Christian religion, and to this day, many of the indigenous cultures have adopted the Catholic religion. However they maintain their original language, dress and artistic expressions. Some cultures are still isolated and have little or no contact with the new comers, and to this day maintain their way of life as they have lived for way over 500 years.

In Ecuador, when we speak of mega-diversity we speak not only of our magnificent biological world, but we also refer to the human factor. The bio-diversity and ethnic-diversity is rich and different, with characteristics depending on the natural environment of the Coast, the Highlands and the Rainforest.

The Culture of the Coast
The oldest known cultures of America lived on the Ecuadorean coast (3500-500 B.C.). The cultures that subsist to this day are three different groups: the Awá, the Chachis or Cayapas and the Tsachilas or Colorados. They live in the tropical rainforest on the west Andes and possibly settled there escaping from the invasion of the Incas from Peru (15th Century) or from the Spaniards (16th Century).

The Amazonian Culture
Many archeologists hold that some of the oldest cultures that survived (over 10,000 years) are actually from this tropical humid rainforest impossible to reach for many centuries. In the "Cosmo vision" of these indigenous groups, the human being is only a part of the "Amazanga" rainforest and the human spirit wanders in this forest every dawn.

  The human spirit can enter an eagle or a serpent or a jaguar, each one with a symbolism as to their nature according to their beliefs. The rainforest provides their food, medicinal plants, and            spiritual richness. To these people, the tropical rainforest is their home, their drug store, their supermarket, and their religion; thus, their extreme respect to the ecological balance. These people are not naturalists nor consumers. They are apparently very poor (according to modern world economical standards), however, they have a rich spiritual life and live in peace surrounded by their families, taking from nature only what they need for survival, taking time to meditate and enlighten their spiritual selves.

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