Culture and Customs of Ecuador

Culture and Customs of Ecuador

Culture and Customs of Ecuador

Culture and Customs of Ecuador

Synopsis

Culture and Customs of Ecuador celebrates the extraordinary cultural, geographic, and ethnic diversity that has made this small country one of Latin America's most unique. Through this overview of its history, religious institutions, literature, social customs, cinema, media, and visual and performing arts, Ecuador emerges as a vibrant microcosm of Latin America. Students and other readers will learn how Ecuadorian society blends pre-Colombian, colonial, modern, and postmodern cultural forces. The underlying themes of Ecuador's continuous struggles with multiculturalism and national identity are presented with unprecedented clarity.

Excerpt

Within the diverse family of Latin American nations, Ecuador is a paragon of physical contrasts and different cultures. Sandwiched between Colombia to the north and Peru to the south on the Pacific coast of South America, Ecuador sits on the equator at 0° latitude and is crossed longitudinally by the Andes Mountains. Characterized by steamy tropical jungles, snowcapped volcanoes, and all of the other climates one would expect to find between these two geographical extremes, Ecuador defies every stereotype or generalization used to describe it.

The richness of Ecuador's diverse geography is reflected by an equally diverse population. Blacks, Indians, mestizos (of mixed Indian and white blood), Asians, Europeans, and Middle Easterners constitute a multicultural mosaic that has made Ecuador a vibrant microcosm of Latin America and of the rest of the world. Within its borders, one encounters the African sounds of the marimba and the bongo drums in the northwest coastal province of Esmeraldas, the Andean flute that evokes Incan times, the Spanish guitar that symbolizes almost 500 years of Hispanic influence, herbal medicinal practices from the Amazon jungle that bring alive a pre-Columbian past, Chinese food (commonly referred to as chifa), and surnames such as Mahuad, Adoum, and Bucaram that have the ring of faraway places. It is no wonder that Ecuadorian historian Jorge Salvador Lara delighted in praising his country for straddling the equator and for existing in two hemispheres simultaneously while breathing in all of the planet's breezes (17).

Cultural diversity is not without conflict, however. As Ecuador's indigenous and Black communities insist on their ancestral and territorial rights . . .

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