Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its mestizo majority and, like their ancestry, is a mixture of European and Amerindian influences infused with African elements inherited from enslaved ancestors. Ecuador's indigenous communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees, but some may also practice their own autochtonous cultures, particularly the more remote indigenous communities of the Amazon basin. Spanish is spoken as the first language by more than 90% of the population and as first and second language by more than 98%. One part of Ecuador's population can speak Amerindian languages, but just as a second language. Two percent of the population speaks only Amerindian languages because they have never attended school.
The Panama hat is of Ecuadorian origin, and is known there as "Sombrero de paja toquilla", or a Jipijapa. It is made principally in Montecristi in the Province of Manabi. Its manufacture (particularly that of the Montecristi superfino) is considered a great craft.
Notable people born in Ecuador include painters Tábara, Guayasamín, Kingman, Rendón, Arauz, Constanté, Viteri, Molinari, Maldonado, Gutierrez, Endara Crow, Villacís, Egas, Villafuerte and Faini; animator Mike Judge; poet and statesman José Joaquín de Olmedo y Maruri, scholar Benjamín Urrutia, world traveler Claudia Velasco, and tennis player Pancho Segura.
Ecuadorian ceviche, made of shrimp, lemon and tomato sauce.
The food in Ecuador is diverse, varying with altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular in the mountain regions and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn or potatoes). A popular street food in mountain regions ishornado, consisting of potatoes served with roasted pig. Fanesca, a fish soup including several types of bean, is often eaten during Lent and Easter. During the week before the commemoration of the deceased or "día de los muertos", the fruit beverage "Colada Morada" is typical, accompanied by "Guaguas de Pan", which is stuffed bread shaped like children.
The food is somewhat different in the southern mountain area, featuring typical Loja food such as "repe", a soup prepared with green bananas; "cecina", roasted pork; and "miel con quesillo" or "cuajada" as dessert.
A wide variety of fresh fruit is available, particularly at lower altitudes, including granadilla, passionfruit, naranjilla, several types of bananas, uvilla, taxo, and tree tomato.
Seafood is very popular at the coast, where prawns, shrimp and lobster are key parts of the diet. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals, which are usually served in two courses. The first course is caldo soup, which may be aguado (a thin soup, usually with meat) or caldo de leche, a cream vegetable soup. The second course might include rice, a little meat or fish with a menestra (lentil stew), and salad or vegetables. Patacones (fried green plantains with cheese) are popular side dishes with coastal meals.
Some of the typical dishes in the coastal region are: ceviche, pan de almidón, corviche, guatita, encebollado and empanadas; in the mountain region: hornado, fritada, humitas, tamales, llapingachos, lomo saltado, and churrasco.
In the rainforest, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. The starchy root is peeled and boiled, fried, or used in a variety of other dishes. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms. It's also used as a bread and has spread throughout the nation, most notably, to Quito where a company sells the native pan de yuca in a new sense; different types sold with frozen youghurt.
Aguardiente, a sugar cane-based spirit, is probably the most popular national alcohol. Drinkable yogurt, available in many fruit flavors, is popular and is often consumed with pan de yuca, a light bread filled with cheese and eaten warm.
There are many contemporary Ecuadorian writers, including the novelist Jorge Enrique Adoum; the poet Jorge Carrera Andrade; the essayist Benjamín Carrión; the poet Fanny Carrión de Fierro; the novelist Enrique Gil Gilbert; the novelist Jorge Icaza (author of the novel Huasipungo, translated to many languages); the short story author Pablo Palacio; the novelist Alicia Yanez Cossio; the prominent author and essayist, Juan Montalvo, and U.S.-based, half Ecuadorian poet Emanuel Xavier.
Estuardo Maldonado's, El Campo de Los Toros, Pastel and Ink on paper, 1960.
The best known art tendencies from Ecuador belonged to the Escuela Quiteña, which developed from the 16th to 18th centuries, examples of which are on display in various old churches in Quito.
Ecuadorian painters include: Oswaldo Guayasamín, Camilo Egas and Eduardo Kingman from the Indiginist Movement; and Manuel Rendon, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement.
Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art (MAAC), near the breakwater in Guayaquil.
The Ecuador Film Company was founded in Guayaquil, in 1924. During the early twenties to early thirties, Ecuador enjoyed its Cinema Golden Age Era. However, the production of motion pictures declined with the coming of sound.
Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002), directed by Jim Hanon, is a documentary about five missionaries killed by the Huaorani Indians in the 1950s. He recycles the story in the 2006 Hollywood production The End of the Spear. Most of this film was shot in Panama.
Entre Marx y una Mujer Desnuda (Between Marx and a Nude Woman, 1995), by Ecuadorian Camilo Luzuriaga, provides a window into the life of young Ecuadorian leftists living in a country plagued by the remnants of feudal systems and coup d'etats. It is based on a novel by Jorge Enrique Adoum
In addition to film, there are numerous books and novels based on Ecuador, including the science fiction novel by Rod Glenn, The King of America, and the science fiction novel Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut.
Ecuador's Olympic related administrative building.
The most popular sport in Ecuador, as in most South American countries, is football. Its best known professional teams include Barcelona S.C. and C.S. Emelec, from Guayaquil, Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, Deportivo Quito and El Nacional (the Ecuadorian Armed Forces team) from Quito, Olmedo from Riobamba, and Deportivo Cuenca, from Cuenca.
The matches of the Ecuador national football team are the most watched sports events in the country. In June 2007, FIFA adopted a resolution prohibiting international soccer games at or higher than 2,500 meters above sea level. Rafael Correa, and his presidential counterparts in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia, issued a joint letter of protest against this ruling. Ecuador qualified for the final rounds of both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. Ecuador finished ahead of Poland and Costa Rica to come in second to Germany in Group A in the 2006 World Cup. Futsal, often referred to as índor, is particularly popular for mass participation.
There is considerable interest in tennis in the middle and upper classes in Ecuadorian society, and several Ecuadorian professional players have attained international fame, including Nicolas Lapentti, Francisco Segura and Andrés Gómez. Basketball has a high profile, while Ecuador's specialties include Ecuavolley, a three-person variation of volleyball. Bullfighting is practised at a professional level in Quito, during the annual festivities that commemorate the Spanish founding of the city, and also features in festivals in many smaller towns. Rugby union is found to some extent in Ecuador, and Quito has its own club.
Ecuador obtained its only Olympic gold medal in Atlanta's 1996 Olympic Games, through Jefferson Pérez, in the 20 km race-walk. Since 2005, Ecuador has held the Guayaquil Marathon, which is an international foot race.
There is flourishing activity in non-traditional sports such as inline hockey, Capoeira, mountain biking, motorbiking, surfing, and paintball. Some costal resorts, particularly Montañita and Ayampe, have been developed as surfing centres. Ecuador also hosted the 2007 Youth World Championship for rock climbing, held in Ibarra, becoming the first country outside Europe or Asia to host the event.
Science and technology
The public policies on science and technology in Ecuador are regulated by Senacyt (Secretaria Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia). Senacyt works alongside universities and private sector to promote applied research. The major focus of research has been in agriculture and environmental impact on raw material extraction.
In 2007, Ecuador trained its first astronaut, Commander Ronnie Nader, and formed the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Civil Ecuatoriana, EXA). In 2008, EXA developed a plane capable of sustaining micro gravity flight, becoming the first country in Latin America in developing this kind of technology by their own means. One month later, they set the world record for the youngest human being in micro gravity, becoming the lead country in micro gravity aerospace research. The EXA manages the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Program and operates, jointly with the Ecuadorian Air Force, the Ecuadorian Micro Gravity Flight Program, the only such program in Latin America.
Ecuador has a network of national highways maintained by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Comunicaciones (Ministry of Public Works and Communication). The Pan-American Highway connects the northern and southern portions of the country as well as connecting Ecuador with Colombia to the north and Peru to the south. The quality of roads, even on truck routes, is highly variable. There is an extensive network of intercity buses that use these mountain roads and highways.
The most modern Ecuadorian Highway communicates Guayaquil with Salinas. The Interandean Railroad communicates Quito and Cotopaxi.