Indigenous peoples in Ecuador, also Native Ecuadorians or Native Americans, are the groups of people who were present in what became Ecuador before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. The term also includes their descendants from the time of the Spanish conquest to the present. Their history, which encompasses the last 11,000 years, reaches into the present; 25 percent of Ecuador’s population is of indigenous heritage, while another 70 percent is of mixed indigenous and European heritage.
Approximately 96.4% of Ecuador’s Indigenous population are Highland Quichuas living in the valleys of the Sierra region. They are Quichua speakers and include the Caranqui, the Otavaleños, the Cayambi, the Pichincha, the Panzaleo, the Chimbuelo, the Salasacan, the Tungurahua, the Tugua, the Waranka, the Puruhá, the Cañari, and the Saraguro. Linguistic evidence suggests that the Salascan and the Saraguro may be the descendents of Bolivian ethnic groups transplanted to Ecuador in a mitma, or forced migration.
Coastal groups, including the Awá, Chachi, and the Tsáchila, make up 0.24% percent of the indigenous population, while the remaining 3.35 percent live in the Oriente and consist of the Oriente Quichua (the Canelo and the Quijos), the Shuar, the Huaorani, the Siona–Secoya, the Cofán, and the Achuar.
(Pictures taken in 2000)