Ecuadorian maps thread (user search)

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May 07, 2021, 08:49:01 AM

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Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« on: August 29, 2013, 10:35:23 PM »

It took me hours and hours, but here it is: the 2013 Ecuadorian presidential election results map by parishes (third-level administrative divisions). Intra-urban parishes aren't represented.

Guess that an ethnic map could be helpful (boundaries of 2010).

And also a map of voters by parishes.

Note this is far from being perfect as the Ecuadorian administrative structure is a total mess.

The country is divided into 24 provinces that have sometimes disputed or vague boundaries. Various areas (39 according to a 2010 newspaper article), the so-called zonas no delimitadas (ZND), are claimed by two or more provinces. This means that the boundaries of provinces can slightly differed between sources. Most of this ZND are however considered as part of a specific province by national authorities (notably the INEC - National Institute of Statistics and Censuses – and the CNE - National Electoral Council), except three (until 2007, four) larges areas (namely Las Golondrinas, La Manga del Cura – claimed by no less than four provinces –, and El Piedero). The INEC classified the census data for the three zones separately from the 24 provinces while the CNE simply chose to not organize election in these areas. The people who live here can however vote in a poll station located inside the legally recognized boundaries of a neighboring province. I have no clue about all of this is organized. Have the voters to go to a specific station or not? I don't know, but the CNE website doesn't distinguish ZND voters from those actually living in the area of the poll station. On the maps, the provinces' boundaries are the large black lines. The three ZND are the blank areas on the election and voters' maps.

Each province are divided into cantons headed by an elected alcalde (mayor). There are 221 cantons in Ecuador, some of them having pretty weird boundaries. And, there could hugely vary between source (I use the INEC as my own source for boundaries). On the maps, the cantons' boundaries are the thin black lines.

Cantons are divided into parishes and then it's getting very confusing. There are two types of parishes: 412 (“official” number) urban parishes and 816 rural parishes. Number and size of parishes vary greatly from canton to canton and seems to be determined mostly by geography (many tiny parishes in the mountainous provinces) rather than by demography (Quito canton [2,239,191 inhabitants] is divided into 65 parishes while Guayaquil canton [2,350,915 inhabitants] into only 20). Seat of the canton (cabecera cantonal) is automatically defined as an urban parish, with no regard for the number of inhabitants. It could be divided into one or several urban parishes. The INEC website considered the urban area as a whole and doesn't provide statistical data for the individual urban parishes when they are several in a canton. I follow the same logic for the maps as I didn't find all the intra-urban boundaries and there is no centralized reliable source for it (not to mention that some cantons claims more urban parishes than acknowledged by the INEC or the CNE). I however figure the “satellite” urban parishes of La Aurora (Daule Canton) and La Puntilla (Samborondón Canton) as La Aurora is an exclave of urban Daule and La Puntilla votes the exact opposite of Samborondón parish. Both are contiguous with Guayaquil. So, my maps represents the 221 urban areas (made of one or several urban parishes) as defined by the INEC, the 816 rural parishes, and 2 of the 4 “satellite” urban parishes (can't find the boundaries of the two others, in El Oro province).

Will post comments on the election and demographic maps later (I spend too much time on the comment on the administrative mess).

Anyway, comments, questions, critics, requests, etc., welcomed.
Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2013, 06:48:14 PM »
« Edited: September 04, 2013, 07:55:38 PM by Sir John Johns »

One question though, after some internet sleuthing, I'm still unsure of the exact difference between 'Montubio' and 'Mestizo'. Is Montubio primarily an 'ethnic' categorization (mixture of all races) or a particular geographical one associated with one or two regions? (I note the classification doesn't even appear in the Spanish Wikipedia)

From my understanding, Montubio (or Montuvio) is a relatively recent label (conceptualized in the early twentieth century and officially recognized in 2001) to designate groups of rural inhabitants of the interior of the Costa. It's a combination of social, cultural, ethnic, and geographical social features. The Montubio are associated with rural life and agricultural activities, notably cattle breeding. In that sense they are quite similar to gauchos or cow-boys as horse-riding and rodeos forms an important part of their culture. They are also associated with the wearing of panama hats (which despite its name originated from Ecuador, possibly from Jipijapa in the coastal province of Manabí) and the use of machetes to work in the fields. However, they distinguished themselves from the Mestizos (officially defined as the mix between Whites and Indigenous) as they claimed a partly Afro-Ecuadorian ascendency and considered the indigenous ancestry as being less important. They also claimed to be descended from indigenous from the Costa (the Cayapa or Chachi) and not from the indigenous of the Sierra like the Quechua (officially spelled in Ecuador Kichwa). Also, Montubio don't considered themselves as Mestizos but as a “native”  and original people. They seem themselves as a distinctive culture like the indigenous and afro-ecuadorian ones. I guess also that the old rivalry between the Costa and the Sierra plaid a role in the affirmation of Montubio identity.

Montubio are mostly concentrated in the Costa provinces of Manabí, Guayas, El Oro, and Los Rios. I found no explanation about the high concentrated Montubio population living on the border between El Oro and Loja provinces. They formed the most important ethnic minority (7.39%) according to the last census.

Montubio were officially recognized in 2001, but there are claims that they received this recognition after threatening to join indigenous protests against the government. The main montubio organization has roots into an agrarian movement and its leader was previously a member of the marxist-leninist Democratic People's Movement (MPD). Apparently, being categorized as a distinct ethnic group apparently gave Montubio more rights and recognition than continuing social struggles. So, the Montubio recognition could be seem partly as an “ethnicization” of a social class for political gain.

In the 2010, 71.93% Ecuadorians identified themselves as Mestizos. The prevailing ideology in traditional elites defines the mestizaje (interbreeding) as the core of Ecuadorian national identity with Indians and Whites mixing to improve the Ecuadorian society. Many critics were addressed toward this ideology:
- the Black people are totally ignored in this scheme as mestizaje is only conceived as the mixture between Indian and White; consequently, Afro-Ecuadorians are generally relegated at the bottom of the social hierarchy
- cultural differences are denied as indigenous have to give up their customs, their traditional clothes and haircuts, their language and their social structure. Problems of indigenous communities were generally explained by their refusal of mestizaje and were regarded as responsible for their own marginalization.
- most importantly, behind the official discourse, there is still an informal hierarchy, defined by racial and ethnic criteria (notably the skin color) within the mestizos. The Indigenous who had moved to towns, gave up their indigenous culture and adopted Spanish language and European clothing, (they are called either Cholos either Longos, but I don't understand what is the difference between the two terms) are still considered as too much indigenous and treated as second-class citizens, sometimes with even less consideration than the Indigenous who have keep their distinctive customs.
- the mestizaje process was seen as a one-way process; the Indigenous have to be “whitened” while the traditional white oligarchy continued to practice endogamy.

Things have changed a bit since the huge indigenous protests in the early 1990s, which helped indigenous (and later Afro-Ecuadorian and Montubio) to gain rights and achieve official recognition, but political and economic power is still largely concentrated between the most white parts of the Ecuadorian society. Also, there are still big problems for the Cholos/Longos as they don't form a clear and well-defined group. Both terms are very pejorative and they are reluctant to use them to self-identify. So far they failed to form organizations to push for their rights. However, there is a translation of the Cholo/Longo phenomena on the political ground with the success of Lucio Gutiérrez (even if it doesn't appear on my map as Gutiérrez have lost many voters in last election). Gutiérrez's ethnic identity is quite tricky. He was born in Quito and assume a Spanish way of life but has clear indigenous roots as show by his skin and was raised in the predominantly Kichwa town of Tena, in the Amazonian province of Napo. Consequently he defined himself as a cholo and attracted the votes of both indigenous and Mestizos who are marginalized because of their indigenous traits.

Most of my information came from Hybridity, Mestizaje, and Montubios in Ecuador and from 'Longos' and 'cholos': Ethnic/'racial' discrimination among mestizos in Ecuador both written by Karem Roitman. The author assumes that cholos is the term used to designated the indigenous-like mestizos in Costa, but this seems to contradict the fact that Gutiérrez uses it to describe himself despite the fact he lives in Amazonia.
Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 08:29:16 PM »

I have totally remade the Montubio map, it is now much more readable.

Now, the Afro Ecuadorian population. It combines three different census' categories for “self-identification according to culture and customs”:
- Mulatto
- Negro, a term considered as quite pejorative if not offensive. Black people were reluctant to self-identify as “Negro” and preferred to declare themselve as mestizo.
- Afroecuatoriano/Afrodescendiente (Afro Ecuadorian/Afro-descendant), a term introduced in the last census.

According to the 2001 census (the first one with a self-identity question), without the Afro Ecuadorian label, the Ecuadorian ethnic make-up was:
Indigenous 6.83%
Negro (Afro-american) 2.23%
Mulatto 2.74%
Mestizo 77.42%
White 10.46%
Others 0.32%

According to the 2010 census, it was
Indigenous 7.03%
Afro Ecuadorian/Afro-descendant 4.25%
Negro 1%
Mulatto 1.94%
Montubio 7.39%
Mestizo 71.93%
White 6.09%
Others 0.37%

There are various claims that both Indigenous and Afro Ecuadorian population is underreported, due to the stigma traditionally attached to these both ethnies. Anyway, there was a rise in the self-identification as a member of an ethnic minority.

Two areas stand out by the high concentration of Afro-Ecuadorian population. On the map, they seem connected but they constituted two distinct geographical and cultural areas:

Esmeraldas province: African slaves having survived a shipwreck found refuge in present-day Esmeraldas and North Manabí, which was mostly formed by forests and mangroves, where they mixed with Indigenous. They were later joined by runaway slaves from neighboring Colombia and constituted a de facto autonomous “kingdom” or “republic”, the so-called Reino de los Zambos (Zambo designated the people from mixed African and Indigenous ancestry), which obtained official recognition from the Spanish colonial authorities at the begin of the 17th century after accepting the Catholic faith. There is an astounding painting of the “king” of Zambos, Don Francisco de Arobe, and his two sons. Apparently this is the earliest signed and dated (1599) painting of the entire American continent. More on Zambo history here (in Spanish).

The Zambo “kingdom” later collapsed due to tribal divisions (stirred up by Spanish colonial administration) and was imperfectly subdued and incorporated into the province of Quito, but runaway slaves from Colombia and other parts of Ecuador continued to flee towards the remote mangroves of northern Esmeraldas until the 19th century. Slavery was however also practiced on a part of present day Esmeraldas province territory until the official abolition of slavery in 1852. Nevertheless, most of the Esmeraldas black people lived in small rural communities where they engaged in subsistence agriculture or shellfish collection. Cocoa farming developed in the 19th century.

Things dramatically changed since the middle of the 20th century, as central government open Esmeraldas for settlement. Various companies appropriated (generally illegally/by force) the lands of the Afro-Ecuadorian communities for uncontrolled logging and then banana and oil palm cultivation. Due to the racist perception that Afro-Ecuadorians are lazy, ignorant, and violent people (they are even accused of having a bad influence on the Indigenous living in Esmeraldas), the companies hired mestizos workers from other parts of Ecuador rather than locals. This opened the path to the “colonization” of eastern part of Esmeraldas by the mestizos. New economic activities since the 1970s failed to truly develop the economy and don't benefited to the Afro-Ecuadorians. Shrimp farming (one of the few economic activity to have benefited from the El Niño phenomena) provoked the destruction of mangroves and the loss of shells that poor Afro-Ecuadorians collected to survive. As for banana/oil palm plantations, shrimp aquaculture provides jobs for migrant workers, not for local inhabitants. The oil refinery of the city of Esmeraldas, built in 1977, while providing jobs for Afro-Ecuadorians who came in from countryside, also generated many pollution and causes disease in workers; it also suffered from a lack of profitability and has recently be upgrade due to aging structures. Finally, civil war in the neighboring Colombia caused the influx of Colombian refugees and the emergence of illegal activities by drug traffickers, paramilitaries, and guerrillas on the border with Colombia.

Chota Valley. African slaves were imported in the 17th century into the valley of the Chota (also called Mira) river, which formed the boundary between the provinces of Carchi and Imbabura (Northern Sierra), to work in the sugarcane, tobacco, and wine plantations owned there by the Jesuits. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, they continued to worked as slaves for local landholders. The abolition of slavery didn't really change things as the black peasants continued to work for landholders under the system of huasipungo (generalized in the entire Sierra): in exchange of a small plot of land he could cultivate for himself, the peasant had to work for free on a very regular basis in the landholders' estates. The 1964 agrarian reform initiated by the military dictatorship abolished the huasipungo but left peasants with only small plot of lands to cultivate as the large estates remained untouched. Moreover, Afro-Ecuadorian peasants owned dry lands with poor soils and had to compete with the lucrative flower industry to have access to water irrigation.

To be complete, it should be mentioned that Afro-Ecuadorians used to live since the 17th century in the Catamayo area (the bluest parish in the province of Loja) and in the city of Loja. They initially were brought here to work as gold miners or servants, but then turned to agriculture. They suffered less problems than the other Afro-Ecuadorians (apparently helped by the building of the Camilo Ponce Enríquez Airport) and mixed with the Mestizo element.

Afro-Ecuadorians migrated to the large towns to find jobs but they still suffered from discrimination. They accounted for 10.8% of the population in Guayaquil, 9.37 in Machala, 7.01% in Ibarra, and 4.73% in Quito. They are also overrepresented in the areas of recent settlement, namely the eastern parts of Azuay and Pichincha and the Amazonian provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana that experienced an oil boom since the 1960s.

Afro-Ecuadorian rights' movement developed mostly in the cities of Guayaquil and Quito and in the city of Esmeraldas where it was associated with labor movement (see the figure of Jaime Hurtado, the first black deputy and leader of the MPD). In the rural part of Esmeraldas, Afro-Ecuadorian demands are for the recognition of their ancestral lands and the fight against illegal land trading. But the Afro-Ecuadorian movement lag behind its indigenous counterpart and it was bring to light only since the late 1990s. The Constitution of 2008 acknowledges rights for Afro-Ecuadorian and affirmative action programs are planned. It should be however underline that the Correa's ruling party follow a questionable policy: nominate black people with limited educational background but celebrity status as candidates for election. The consequence is that roughly half of the Afro-Ecuadorian parliamentary representation (3 out of 5 or 6) are formed by former soccer players. This could renforced the stereotype over Afro-Ecuadorians being only good to play soccer and be entertainers.

Most of my information come from here
Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2014, 10:02:26 PM »

I plan, hopefully, to post soon maps about the indigenous, but, as I managed to understand how to use crosstab on the INEC website, I have made this quite important map that shows the big agricultural divide in Ecuador.

The main 'categories of occupation' in the agricultural sector (grouped with forestry and fishing by the INEC) are defined as such by INEC:
* Self-employed - 43.3% of people working in the agricultural sector (Cuenta propria, not sure if the translation is exact): a person working on his own account without being subject to an employer nor having salaried employee working for him. He/she can work alone or receive assistance from unpaid worker(s).
* Day laborers or peon - 41.7%: a person remunerated on a daily base, regardless of the periodicity of the payment.
* Private employees or workers - 10.17%: a person working for a private employer and receiving a remuneration in the form of wages, salaries, or piece rates.
* Unpaid workers - 1.9%: a person, related or not to a member of the household, who receives no payment for the work he do.
* Patron (patrono) - 1.8%: a person who is the only owner or active partner in the business where he work and who employs at least one salaried person on a regular basis.

Only a negligible part of the people working in the agricultural sector fell under one of the three remaining categories (public workers, socios, domestic employees).

The Costa agriculture is mostly export-oriented and made a big use of day-laborers, some of them being seasonal migrants from the Costa. The main exported products are bananas (whose plantations are concentrated into the hands of a few companies), coffee, cocoa, and sugar. The shrimp aquaculture has also developed in the province of Esmeraldas. Since the 1970s, oil-palm plantations have been created in the newly colonized areas of Santo Domingo, Eastern Pichincha and Southern Esmeraldas. Rice production and cattle-raising for meat are also important but more oriented toward the internal market. There is still a significant number of middle-size and small-size farmers in the Costa.

Southern Carchi (North Sierra, near the Colombian border) is an important area of production of potatoes since the 1960s. Formerly a very productive activity, it has declined in recent years due to the overuse of chemicals and competition from Colombia. I have no clue about Central Imbabura, but agricultural lands there are very fragmented through numerous small farmers.

Private employees are mostly in the big cities of the Costa (Guayaquil, Santa Elena, Manta) and in the major production areas of flowers and dairy products (I'm not sure why for the latter). Floricultural industries (expecially rose production) have developed since the 1980s in the cantons of Cayambe, Pedro Moncayo (both in Pichincha) and Otavalo (in Imbabura). Flowers are produced in greehouses and intended for export
The production is intended for export. Also women tend to be overrepresented among the floriculture industry workers. Modern dairy farms are found in the valleys of Mejía and Cayambe (Pichincha) and in the vicinity of Guaytacama (Cotopaxi), home to the first mechanized manufacture of butter in Ecuador.

Self-employed farmers: in Sierra, the lands were traditionally concentrated into the hands of a few white landowners while small free farmers survived on small plots of land. Indigenous were also usually required to provide unpaid work in big haciendas under a system of debt peonage and lived under a relation of complete dependence on white landowners. The agrarian reforms initiated in 1964 and 1973 by the military were very incompletely implemented and failed to solve the agrarian question. Big haciendas were required to be split but, while the haciendas' owners managed to keep the most productive lands, indigenous generally received ownership of tiny parcels of degraded land with few or no access to water. Population growth has since even more worsened the fragmentation of agricultural lands with many farmers barely earning a living on a small piece of land eroded by overexploitation. A significant number of small farmers and indigenous communities have no formal property titles. There appears to be a strong (but not systematic) correlation between indigenous self-identification and a very strong share of the agricultural population falling under the self-employed category. It's important to notice that the indigenous movement is strongly linked to the agrarian movement in the Sierra and the water issue and land legalization are top priorities for indigenous organizations. Situation of non-indigenous small landholders is certainly no better: the provinces of Loja and Azuay, which have a pretty low indigenous population, experimented large emigration toward Amazonia, Costa or aboard since the 1960s due to lack of lands and severe soil erosion.

Beside of the competitive dairy and floriculture industries, the main agricultural activities in Sierra are destined for the internal market if not for the farmer's own consumption. Main crops are peas, beans, cereals (both for human and animal food) while the main raised animals are cattle (rather for dairy), sheeps and goats. Generally speaking, the productivity of Sierra agriculture is low and it is not uncommon for farmers to have an additional economic activity: handicraft, paid job in an urban area or seasonal work in another part of Ecuador.

In order to alleviate the problem of land shortage in the Sierra, the military dictatorship launched in 1964 a plan for the colonization of the Oriente. Homesteaders from the Costa and the Sierra moved to the Amazonian region to settle along the newly created roads, generating a massive deforestation (as colonizers were required to clear half of their lands within five years to show effective use and have their lands titled) and land conflicts with local indigenous whose traditional lands were considered as 'vacant' by the Ecuadorian State. One of the consequence of the colonization was also the introduction of livestock raising among indigenous as it was an easy way to clean their lands and so have the land legalized. Most of the newly established agricultural settlements proved however to be economically unsustainable and many settlers resold their lands at a low price to palm-oil growing or cattle-raising companies.
Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2015, 12:00:34 AM »

Before posting some maps about the current indigenous population, some stuff about the history of native peoples in Ecuador, first beginning with pre-Inca cultures (prepare yourself for a deluge of text).

Considering how many demographic, cultural, and linguistic changes the indigenous peoples of Ecuador have experienced into six centuries, an overview of the indigenous peoples living in current-day Ecuador at the time of the Inca conquest is not that relevant to understand current situation. Still, it's a very fascinating but, unfortunately, vastly overlooked topic.

Pre-Inca indigenous peoples aren't well documented for a variety of reasons, the first one being the complete lack of written sources dating back to before the Spanish conquest. Consequently, the earliest Spanish chroniclers were writing about peoples that have already undergone massive cultural and demographic changes due to the successive Inca and Spanish conquests.

Another problem is the long disinterest that had been showed for Ecuadorian pre-Inca cultures: they haven't left big monuments like the Incas or other cultures of Peru and Bolivia and they have been considered as much more primitive and less worthy of interest.

To made thinks wore, the geographic and climatic conditions prevailing in most part of Ecuador are very unfavorable to archaeological preservation (high humidity and high temperature, acidity of soils, frequent floods and landslides) or/and to archaeological excavation (mountainous and rocky terrain, difficulty of access). Plundering of the archaeological sites is pretty common and has been practiced since ages; actually, some of the most important sites have been discovered after investigating the provenance of artifacts found in privater homes.

The social and political climate that prevailed for a while also played a role. Political instability had complicated the work of the archaeologists and the strained relations with Peru had made some areas inaccessible to archaeological research until the resolution of the territorial dispute in the 1990s.

More importantly, the interpretation of the pre-Inca past has been often distorted to conform to particular ideologies: the national ideology of mestizaje, anti-Peruvian nationalism, or Incaism. Pre-Inca history in school textbooks is mostly featured through the story of the mighty kingdom of Quito, which had matched with the Inca Empire in term of development, and was founded through the fusion of the Quitu and Cara peoples into the new Shyri people. The kingdom of Quito has been widely heralded as the forerunner of the Ecuadorian state and has served as national myth to both legitimize the independence of Ecuador from its reviled Peruvian neighbor and the process of mestizaje.

However, no archaeological or historical proof of the existence of a powerful kingdom in the Quito area has been ever found and the whole story appears to have been a fabrication by a late colonial Jesuit writer (seemingly as a part of the feud between the Society of Jesus, then recently expelled from South America, and the Spanish Crown). Despite the fact that the myth of the kingdom of Quito had debunked since at least the begin of the 20th century, it has been largely taught in schools and used by intellectuals and politicians.

From this perspective, pre-Colombian sites are generally presented as Ecuadorian instead of indigenous sites. The glorious indigenous past is thus highlighted and understand as part of an already existing Ecuadorian nation while the current indigenous communities are ignored and marginalized.

On the other side, some indigenous communities have taken pride of alleged (and generally dubious) Inca biological and cultural roots. As a consequence, they show little concern for the preservation of sites or artifacts belonging to cultures they don't identified with or whose history isn't seen as glorious than those of the Incas; some cases of destruction of pre-Inca sites by indigenous have even be reported. To make matters worse, Inca stuff and folklore is far better to attract tourists and get money than things belonging to obscure cultures only known by a handful of archaeologists.

Conversely, in other cases (notably in the Santa Elena peninsula), archaeological excavations of pre-Inca sites have played an important role in the affirmation of the indigenous identity by giving a source of pride for natives. In these cases, pre-Inca past is valued for political reasons: it suggests the idea of a (actually questionable) cultural continuity dating back before the Spanish conquest and so it legitimizes rights to communal lands on the basis of prior presence. As a consequence, in the recent process of construction and affirmation of distinct local indigenous identities, a fair number of peoples choose to name themselves after the pre-Inca culture that used to live on their current territory, even though the cultural affiliation between the pre-Colombian and the current peoples is sometimes pretty dubious.

That being said, here a map featuring the approximate locations of the numerous peoples that lived in present-day Ecuador at the time of the Spanish contact (ranging from the 1530s for those who lived on the southern coast and in the highlands to the first part of the 17th century for those who lived in the easternmost parts of the Amazonian lowlands).

Main sources are

I tried to arrange peoples accordingly to their cultural or linguistic affiliation and their geographical environment. The first one classification should really be taken with a grain of salt: many of the then-spoken languages disappeared without a trace or very poorly documented. The scarcity of the known vocabulary (for example, only three words of Quijo are known) made virtually impossible any attempt to completely reconstruct the different linguistic families. Even quite documented languages haven't been yet categorized with certainty. Cañari language is either ranged within the Barbacoan group or Chimuan group. Panzaleo language has been previously categorized by some linguists into a hypothetical Paezan group; the idea is rejected by other linguists. And so on.

Speaking of languages, the absence of native Quechua-speakers before the Inca conquest is worth noting. Quechua language is now, by far, the most widely spoken indigenous language in Ecuador but it was brought in Ecuador if not by the Incas by traders only few decades before the Inca conquest itself. The variety of Quechua currently spoken in Ecuador has even possibly be only introduced by Spanish missionaries in the 17th century.

Before addressing the various distinct environmental zones, some important characteristics shared by all native cultures at the time. Husbandry was limited to a very small amount of animal species: ducks, guinea pigs, and, practically only in southern Ecuador, llamas. Consequently it played a marginal economic role. Hunting and – when possible – fishing were the primary sources of animal protein even in the most developed cultures. Conversely, horticulture was widely adopted, even by the less advanced societies and no exclusive hunter-gatherer societies appear to have existed in Ecuador by the 15th century.

The Ecuadorian territory is spanned by a wide variety of ecological zones and micro-climates, located at the different altitude levels. Each of these ecological zones can product and supply its own particular animal and plant products. This has led native societies to early adopt strategies to get access to several ecosystems. Whenever possible, indigenous communities attempted to directly exploit environments located at different altitudes; this supposed they remain geographically close to another so both could be worked during the same day.

The other way to obtain exotic resources was through the regular vertical trade network that emerged at an early time and connected the coast with the highlands and the Amazonian lowlands. In this inter-zonal trade, the montaña – the western and eastern slopes of the Andean cordillera covered by lush cloud forests and home to a very rich biodiversity – played a key role both as a commercial link and as a supplier of specific products on its own.

Inter-zonal trade played a crucial economic role, providing indigenous cultures with a wide range of foodstuffs, luxury goods but also products of greatest need: the coastal societies were dependent on the highlands to supply the obsidian and the copper and gold ores; the highland peoples needed cotton, a plant that only grown at the lower altitudes, to make clothing.

The long-distance trade between the different ecological zones had also social and political impact. A caste of professional merchants (mindaláes) emerged and, operating under the protection of local chiefs, gained a high social and political ranks. In the most developed societies, specialized workshops appeared and produced lucrative trade-oriented goods (beads, gold-working, textiles and clothes).

However, unlike what happened in Peru and Bolivia, no centralized and highly organized state ever emerged in Ecuador until the arrival of the Incas. Similarly the various cultures never achieved a real and lasting political unity. Native cultures in Ecuador remained largely decentralized. The more organized of them (mostly found on the shoreline and in the highlands) were divided into several local polities, generally referred to by the Spaniards as chiefdoms (cacicazgos), or lordships (señoríos), that were interconnected through complex bonds of reciprocity, intermarriages, and commercial links.
Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2015, 12:02:28 AM »

The Coast

At the time of the Spanish conquest, most part of the western lowlands was covered by lush and dense tropical forests and mangroves. The area was plagued by tropical diseases (sometimes not deadly but disfiguring) like verruga peruana, Carrion's disease, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, pinta, or dysentery.

As a consequence, a large part of the western lowlands were unsuitable for densely populated settlements and the overall population on the coast remained quite less numerous than in the highlands and was mostly concentrated along the shoreline, along the big rivers, and in the dyer lands where highly developed and organized societies emerged.

The Manteños and the Huancavilcas

The Santa Elena peninsula and southern Manabí, where the climate is dry and semi-arid, were home to the closely related Manteño and Huancavilca cultures. The area seems to have been the craddle of the most ancient sedentary societies in Ecuador. Beginning with the Valdivia culture (3,500 BC to 1,800 BC), various cultures have succeeded one another with no apparent interruption. These cultures became very early involved in the gathering and long-distance trade of maritime products, in particular the Spondylus shell, which was highly valued and demanded by the peoples of the highlands for its religious association to fertility.

By the end of the 15th century, the Manteños and the Huancavilcas (also called southern Manteños; the Huancavilca term is actually of Quichua origin) had built a large maritime trade network based on the lucrative traffic of the Spondylus, but also on the production and trade of luxury goods such as shell beads, shell jewelry, mother-of-pearl, gold-working, and textile. These goods were produced in dedicated workshops by specialized craftsmen and carried up to northern Peru and southern Colombia on board balsa rafts; extensive trade relations were also maintained with the highlands.

Manteño ceremonial stone seat

Manteño balsa raft

The Manteño and Huancavilca cultures were politically well-organized and highly stratified. Numerous ceremonial stone seats have been found on Manteño archaeological sites and there are evidences of the existence of a caste of priests. Manteños and Huancavilcas also maintained, to the great horror of the Spanish conquistadors, harems of homosexual young men for ritual purposes, the so-called enchaquirados as they worn attire of shell beads (chaquira in Spanish).

The Manteño territory was divided into three lordships (señoríos) and organized around urban centers built of stone or adobe bricks. These urban centers seem to have supported a large population: the city of Jocay (present-day Manta) had possibly a population of 20,000, the city of Picoazá (part of present-day Portoviejo) a population of 30,000. An intensive culture of maize, manioc and potatoes allowed the support of such important urban settlements. The Huancavilcas were divided into smaller chiefdoms and appear to have been less organized.

During the 15th century, the Manteño influence began to extend outside southern Manabí as colonies were established into the montaña and on the Esmeraldas coast to ensure control over specific resources.

The language spoken by the Manteños and the Huancavilcas is very poorly documented and remains so far unclassified. Cultural affinities with the Chimuan peoples have however been suggested.

The Punáes

The Puná Island was the seat of a bellicose confederacy of chiefdoms, which was constantly at war with the Tumbes and the Chonos for the supremacy over the Gulf of Guayaquil. Like the Manteño-Huancavilca peoples, with whom they shared many cultural traits, the Punáes were involved in maritime trade of Spondylus shell. They also traded the salt they extracted from the mines of their island, and the renowned gold-working they produced in dedicated workshops.

Total population of the Puná Island ranged between 19,000 and 26,000 which is much more numerous than the current population of 6,769.

The Tumbes

The other cultures of the shoreline are less documented but were quite similar to the Manteño-Huancavilca. The Tumbes or Tumbecinos were centered around the town of Tumbes, in present-day Peru, but their territory extended on the coast of El Oro province. They were possibly related to the Punáes, their military rivals that periodically raided their territory, and were also engaged in maritime trade using balsa rafts. The Tumbes fall under the Inca dominance at an earlier stage than the rest of Ecuador.

The Campaces

Peoples that lived in present day northern Manabí and Esmeraldas are not well known and their exact locations varied from an author to another. The Jama-Coaque culture, which seems to correspond to the Campaces that are mentioned in Spanish sources, was less sea-oriented. Its peoples lived in settlements of large houses that were established in the river valleys of northern Manabí. The Jama-Coaque is famous for the richly detailed and colored ceramic figurines it produced.

Figurines of the Jama-Coaque culture.
The first one date back from the Jama-Coaque I period (350 BC to 400 AD.
No date for the second one.

Its intensive agricultural practices permitted the development of a highly stratified society as evidenced by the building of a large mound-building (tola) in San Isidro, a place that seems to have been the religious center of the Jama-Coaque culture. However, by the 15th century, the Jama-Coaque culture was on the decline and had began to fall under the Manteño influence.

The Tacames

The last urban or semi-urban culture in the western lowlands was the Tacames or Esmeraldeño culture. Its main center was the town of Tacames (current-day Atacames) which, according to Spanish accounts, contained over 1,000 houses and was laid out in streets and squares. Like the Campaces, the Tacames had fallen under the economic and political dominance of the Manteños at the time of the Spanish arrival. The language spoken by the Tacames (Esmeraldeño language) somehow survived until the nineteenth century; at that time, it was only spoken by Afro-Ecuadorian communities. Esmeraldeño language remains so far unclassified.

The Chonos

The Chonos, corresponding to the Milagro-Quevedo culture, lived in the Guayas basin, an area characterized by a tropical monsoon climate and the periodic floods of its lower parts. A mostly agrarian society, the Chonos developed a complex network of canals and raised fields (camellones) to achieve an increase of the crop yields and thus to permit the support of a high population density. These large-scale agrarian works and the building of numerous tolas for religious or funerary purposes, are indicators of the level of social organization reached by the Chonos. Nevertheless, they remained divided into several small chiefdoms and were seen by the Spaniards as less developed and organized than the coastal societies. The Chonos were integrated into the inter-zonal trade as evidenced by the discovery of copper-axes, used as a commodity. They used balsa rafts to navigate the Guayas river and its tributaries and trade the valued copper- and gold-working they produced.

The tribal peoples of Esmeraldas

The climate in the northern part of the Esmeraldas shoreline and in the Esmeraldas inland turns rainier and more humid, and the area was then covered by dense tropical rainforests. The peoples that lived here are not much known as the Spaniards made few entradas into this hostile environment, especially as the area fall under the dominance of shipwrecked African slaves and runaway maroons, blocking any Spanish attempt to enter the area.

Golden sun mask from La Tolita culture currently used as the emblem of the Central Bank of Ecuador

The island of La Tolita, off the coast of northern Esmeraldas was home to a brilliant civilization (500 BC – 500 AD) that had left many gold ornaments (including apparently those worn by the Afro-Ecuadorian rulers of Esmeraldas). At the time of the Spanish conquest, however, it seems that the whole area was populated by largely unorganized tribes that lived in small and sparsely distributed settlements. The most known are the Cayapas and the related Niguas as the former have managed to survive to the present day. The Cayapas speak a Barbacoan language and it is widely assumed that it was also the case for the various peoples that lived in the area. The warlike people of the Malabas is worth mentioning as they fiercely opposed the Spanish advance and ruined a Spanish attempt to colonize their territory.
Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2015, 12:03:46 AM »

The Western montaña

The steep and narrow western slopes of the Andean cordillera were then covered by dense tropical and subtropical forests. The peoples who used to live there – as those who lived in the eastern montaña, – were collectively referred to as the Yumbos. They were organized into tribes bound together by familial links.

The Yumbos

The term of Yumbos was also used to designate specifically the peoples that lived in current-day western Pichincha. The latter are quite documented thanks to the archaeological excavations undertaken on the site of Tulipe since the 1970s that have revealed a ceremonial center. This one comprises several tolas and eight stone-line “pools” used for religious purposes and, possibly, for astronomical observations.

The “pools” of Tulipe

The Yumbos played a key role as trade intermediaries between the coast and the highlands as they maintained an extensive network of paths (culuncos) through the mountain forest. They also grown on their own lands the much valued cotton, maize, chile pepper, and a wide variety of tropical fruits and vegetables that were exchanged with other cultures.

The Colorados

The headwaters of the Toachi River was populated by the Colorados (literally the “red colored”), a people that shared cultural and linguistic affinities with the Yumbos. Their Spanish name came from their custom to paint their body and to dye their hairs in red. Unlike the Yumbo culture and language that disappeared at the begin of the 20th century, the Colorado (today referred by the indigenous name of Tsáchila) ones have survived to the present. Their language (tsáfiki) is a Barbacoan language and, thus, it is assumed that the related Yumbo, Nigua, and, possibly, Chono peoples were themselves Barbacoan-speaking peoples.

The Angamarcas and the Sigchos

The related Angamarca and Sigchos peoples probably also belonged to the Barbacoan cultural group. They lived in the highest altitudes of the western montaña, on the edge of the tropical forests and along the Toachi river. Thus, they controlled an important communication nexus.

The Highlands

The highlands were the most populated zone in current-day Ecuador. Its inhabitants were sedentary agriculturalists that lived in numerous but small dispersed settlements located mostly in the inter-Andean valleys where maize, potatoes, and beans were grown. Additional foodstuffs and products like cotton, dried fish, coca, or tobacco, were obtained through inter-zonal trade, or, in some case, by the establishment of small colonies in the montaña (this last economic strategy would later been implemented on a large scale by the Incas).

The generic political organization in the highlands was the señorío étnico (ethnic lordship, a term coined by historians of the 20th century) It consisted of a paramount chief heading a regional confederation of subordinated chiefdoms sharing the same ethnic and cultural traits. The various chiefdoms were connected with each other through intermarriage, hostage exchanges, labor duties and trade relations.

The Pastos

The Pastos lived on both sides of the current-day border between Ecuador and Colombia. Like the Caranquis, they spoke a Barbacoan language, but they clearly differed from their southern neighbors by their typical negative-painted pottery and their traditional house, which was the bohío (circular grass huts). The Pastos were one of the less organized peoples of the highlands as they were divided into small chiefdoms with no overall paramount chief. Archaeological surveys have however revealed clear differences between the nobles' and the commoners' graves, an evident sign of social hierarchy.

The Caranquis

South to the Pastos were the Caranqui “confederacy”, formed by four powerful chiefdoms (Caranqui proper, Cochasquí, Otavalo, and Cayambe) and several other smaller chiefdoms all from Barbacoan cultural background (but clearly distinct from the Pastos). This so-called confederacy was actually a loose military league set up during a period of war with each component keeping its own autonomy.

The tolas of Cochasquí

The Caranqui chiefdoms were able to mobilize a large workforce as they constructed many raised fields (camellones) and, the only highland culture to do so, numerous tolas. These latter were used for funerary, religious or astronomical purposes. The more famous are those found in Cochasquí.

The Panzaleos

The actual cultural and linguistic affiliation of the peoples living in current-day Quito area is really very confuse as the Inca rule dramatically changed the composition of the population by removing there peoples from other parts of their empire. The Quitu people, the alleged founders of the legendary kingdom of Quito, has apparently no historicity as the city of Quito probably takes its name from a pre-Inca ruler. The valleys of Tumbaco and Chillos, adjacent to the city of Quito, were home to organized chiefdoms whose cultural affiliation is uncertain. Some sources indicated that Panzaleo was possibly spoken in the area.

Current-day southern Pichincha, Cotopaxi, and Tungurahua provinces were inhabited by the Panzaleos. The Panzaleo lands were densely populated but, unlike the Caranquis, the Panzaleos remained divided into numerous small-scale chiefdoms and they weren't a mound-building people. Extensive trade relations were maintained with the Quijos from the eastern montaña who shared political bonds and cultural traits with the Panzaleos. This has led to the hypothesis that the Panzaleo lands have been settled by migrants from the montaña.

The Panzaleo language remains unclassified; links with the Barbacoan languages have been proposed but, as in the case of many other native languages, the lack of documentation doesn't allow to decide the case.

The Puruháes

Most part of current-day Chimborazo province was inhabited by the Puruhá people. It remains unclear if the neighboring Chimbos (that lived in current-day Bolívar province) were culturally distinct from the Puruháes; some sources suggest that they were only a local subdivision of the Puruhá people.

The Puruháes were divided into numerous decentralized chiefdoms that were possibly loosely coordinated by a paramount chief. They made efforts to establish “colonies” in both western and eastern montaña and thus gained access to coca, cotton, maize, and pepper production areas.

The Puruhá language is poorly documented but generally seen as related to the Cañari language. Classification into the Barbacoan group has also been proposed.

The Cañaris

Living south to the Puruháes, the Cañaris were probably the best organized and the most expansionist people in the highlands. They were divided into several centralized chiefdoms that were constantly at war against one another. However, in case of a war against a common external enemy, they put aside their rivalries and proved to be powerful warriors. The Cañaris extended their territory over the Upano valley, gaining thus control over parts of the eastern montaña and its resources. To the west, they possibly subjugated parts of the shoreline of current-day Guayas province; at least they maintained extensive trade relations with the coast peoples that they supplied with copper and gold.

Remains of Cañari structures on the site of Ingapirca

The Cañaris were the only native people to made extensive use of stone in construction. The site of Hatun Cañar (renamed Ingapirca after the Inca conquest) was the main religious center of the Cañaris; it was destroyed during the Inca conquest and new Inca buildings were erected on the ruins of the Cañari structures. The Cañaris were also skilled metal-workers and renowned potters. They practiced intensive agriculture that enabled the support of a large rural population.

What is known of the Cañari language is a probable proximity with the Puruhá language. It has been classified either into the Chimuan or Barbacoan language family.

The Paltas

The southernmost parts of the Ecuadorian highlands, where the height of the mountains decreases, were inhabited by the Paltas and the Malacatos. The two groups shared very similar traits, but spoke distinct languages. Both were Jivaroan peoples who migrated lately from the eastern montaña and displaced a most ancient culture, possibly related to the Cañaris.

The Paltas and the Malacatos were considered as more “primitive” than the other highlands' inhabitants, and they remained divided into numerous tiny chiefdoms that frequently waged war at one another. The lower attitude and the roughness of their environment has created a variety of micro-climates. Consequently, the Paltas and the Malacatos have direct control over the production of both tropical and subtropical resources. Thus, they weren't dependent on trade relations for supplying and seems to have only played a marginal role in the inter-zonal trade.

The Yaznes

The almost completely undocumented Yaznes, possibly a Jivaroan people, lived to the west of the Paltas. I put them apart as their environment is mostly constituted by dry forests and shrublands. They don't seem to have been numerous and very developed. Even more west, the climate turns more arid and the westernmost parts of Loja province were probably uninhabited.
Sir John Johns
Jr. Member
Posts: 412

« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 12:09:10 AM »

The Eastern montaña

After the Spanish conquest, the eastern montaña, larger and less stepper than the western one, with its dense and lush forests, was considered as both an impenetrable barrier and a clear-cut boundary between, on one side, the civilized and advanced societies of the highlands, and, on the other side, the barbarian and primitive tribes of the Amazonian lands. This dichotomy between the civilized Indians of the highlands and the savages of the Amazon is still present-day in current-day Ecuadorian society.

However, this perception, which is actually contradicted by earliest Spanish accounts, has been challenged these last decades. The eastern montaña was actually a place of intense trade exchanges and of technical innovations. In pre-Inca times, its inhabitants maintained intensive trade relations and furnished the cultures of the highlands with slaves, hold, coca, canela, cotton, feathers of tropical birds, and other goods produced either in the montaña either in the Amazonian lowlands. In return, the peoples of the montaña received products from the highlands and from the coast such as salt, beads, clothes, and, in the first times of the colonial era, western weapons, iron tools, and cattle.

The site of Santa Ana-La Florida

Recent excavations on the site of Santa Ana-La Florida (in Palanda canton, Zamora-Chinchipe province) has unearthed an important architectural complex constituted by a structure featuring curvilinear stone walls and by a stone-line funerary pit. This latter contained probable offerings like ceramic bottles, stone bowls, turquoise and green stone artifacts, and maritime shells. If the dating of the site (latter half of the third millennium BC) is correct, the culture (Mayo-Chinchipe[-Marañón] culture) that existed at the time in the area was far more advanced than the contemporary cultures of the Ecuadorian coast and highlands. The presence of maritime shells on the site also attests the existence of very ancient trade links between eastern montaña and the coast. These excavations have led to the idea that possibly the first complex societies emerged firstly in the montaña and then spread to the highlands and the coast.

For a good part, the peoples of the eastern montaña remain little-known. Their political organization ranged from non-stratified small groups to highly structured chiefdoms. A great cultural and political continuity between the societies of the highland and most of those of the montaña has been however noticed.

The Cofanes and the Coronados

The Cofanes and the Coronados tribes populated the northernmost part of the montaña. They were apparently semi-nomadic agriculturalists that lived in widely dispersed villages and traded with the highland societies. They don't appeared to have a complex political organization. The Cofán language is still spoken in the area but is considered as a language isolate. Cultural affiliation of the Coronados is very uncertain, possibly Tukanoan.

The Qujios

The Quijo culture, the most documented culture in the eastern montaña, was to be found in the headwaters of the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon River. They shared cultural traits and practiced intermarriage with their Panzaleo neighbors. The Quijo territory was divided into several complex chiefdoms and populated by numerous small villages where maize and manioc were cultivated. The Quijos had established markets where they sell their own agricultural products, gold jewelry, and textiles to the peoples of the highlands using bone beads (carato) as commodity money.

The Quijo language has been considered related either to the Barbacoan language, either to the Cofán language; however, the blatant lack of vocabulary made any classification very uncertain.

The peoples of the central montaña

The central part of the eastern montaña was populated by almost completely undocumented peoples. Nothing seems to be known about the languages they spoke. They seem to have share cultural affinities with either the Puruháes (Huamboyas) or the Cañaris (Macas and Bolonas). This is possibly the consequence of attempts made by the highland peoples to establish colonies in the montaña to have direct control over its resources. Whether these colonization attempts predated the Inca conquest is unclear.

The Jivaroan peoples

The Southeast of Ecuador was inhabited by the various Jivaroan peoples. The main ones were the Xíbaros, the Bracamoros, and the Jívaros, these latter living in the lowlands and being mostly found in current-day northeastern Peru. The Jivaroans stand apart from their neighbors by their almost complete lack of political organization and their very belligerent culture. They were engaged into permanent bloody inter-tribal warfare, usually raiding rival villages to collect booty and to take and shrunk the heads of their enemies. This tradition is widely associated with the Jivaroans peoples, but it was actually a widespread practice in Pre-Columbian South America.

An explanation of the bellicosity of the Jivaroan peoples is possibly the big food problems they faced (lack of animal resources in the montaña and, conversely, the infertile soil in the lowlands). Polygyny and infanticide were widespread practices within the Jivaroan societies.

Also worth noting, the Paltas-Xiroa who had more cultural connections with the Paltas of the highland than with the Bracamoros and Xíbaros. There were in all likelihood a group of Paltas that colonized the eastern montaña.

The Amazonian lowlands

Here, the population was mostly concentrated along the numerous tributaries of the Amazon River. Thanks to the accounts left by the Spanish missionaries who visited the area, the peoples who used to live there are quite documented.

It should be however noted that the documentation about them dated back later than for the rest of Ecuador, sometimes only to the middle of the 17th century. This is especially true for the peoples that lived on the banks of the Pastaza River and its tributaries. Contrary to other rivers that were explored down from the Andes, the Pastaza River was explored up river by missionaries coming from Northeastern Peru. The exact location of all of these peoples remains uncertain due to the Spanish explorers' tendency to confuse or give different names to the various ethnic groups and to the numerous rivers. Some areas like northwestern Pastaza province are completely undocumented.

Most of the peoples of the Amazonian lowlands were semi-nomadic and poorly organized tribes, usually described by Spaniards as indios de behetría, i.e. lacking of a permanent head. As with the Jivaroans, shifting agriculture was insufficient to cover the food needs and hunting, fishing and gathering played there a most important role than in the rest of Ecuador.

The Omaguas

An exception must however be made for the densely populated Omagua colonies that had settled in the floodplains of the Coca and Napo rivers where maize and manioc could be grown in larger quantities and a larger population could be supported.

A Tupian people, the Omaguas sailed up the tributaries of the Upper Amazon and settled, in a non-contiguous way, in a territory that stretched from Eastern Ecuador to the westernmost parts of Brazil. In eastern Ecuador, they appeared to have displaced a previously settled Tupian people.

The Omaguas were seen by the Spanish conquistadors as a brilliant and sophisticated people who wore multicolor painted clothes and produced fine glazed and painted potteries. They were both expansionist warriors and great traders and attempted to gain control over all the riverine trade in the Upper Amazon Basin. They used their fleet to raid neighboring peoples, accumulating a large booty and capturing many slaves they either sold or used for agricultural labors. The Omaguas lived in large fortified villages and were organized into military chiefdoms which grouped several villages.

The other peoples of the Amazonian lowlands

The Amazonian lowlands were populated by a wide diversity of peoples some of them having disappeared without a trace. As previously said, these peoples relied heavily on hunting and fishing for their livelihoods and lived in lands unable to sustain a large population. They lived in small and scattered settlements, mostly found along the rivers, and their societies weren't very stratified.

Their linguistic affiliation is quite documented (at least better than those of the coastal and highland peoples). Three language families have been distinguished in the area: the Zaparoan, the Tucanoan, and the Candoshi groups. The Candoshis were mostly found in Peru and shared were possibly related to the Jivaroans. The exact affiliation of the Abijiras is however unclear. Some sources claim they were Zaparoan-speakers rather than Tukanoan-speakers.

I will try to update this thread on a more regular basis.
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