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Culture in Ecuador

Elements of cultura (culture) are everywhere you go in Ecuador. From the gilded, glittering 19th-century theaters of Quito to the raucous parades and dancing in the streets of tiny Andean towns, Ecuadorians across the nation love to celebrate their heritage and traditions. Ecuador brandishes a rainbow of cultures: the native inhabitants had a well-developed sense of cultural identity before the arrival of the Spanish, who added their own traditions to the mix. Later, Africans came to the region—primarily the coast—and brought with them their own unique culture. Today, Ecuador has even embraced international traditions, such as Halloween.

Ecuador's culture ranges from upscale (opera at Teatro Sucre in Quito) to low-key (cockfights in rural towns), and from very old (religious processions for Holy Week) to new (chivas—party buses with a loud band on top—driving through the streets of Quito). No matter what aspects of Ecuadorian culture you choose to explore, you can be sure that it will be colorful, boisterous and lots of fun. Ecuador takes its art and music very seriously.

The nation—and Quito in particular—was a thriving artistic center during the colonial period, and the people of Ecuador developed a love for art that continues to this day. Quito’s museums and galleries should not be missed if you are an art aficionado. Music is also important to Ecuadorians: you won’t go anywhere in Ecuador without seeing a small Andean band playing traditional tunes, hoping to sell a CD to tourists.

Ecuador has the wonderful Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana (URL: that promotes the visual and performance artists of the country. The main complex is in Quito; but every provincial capital has a nucleo, or a branch, where regional artists are highlighted. The casas host literary readings, concerts, art exhibits, films and other cultural events—many of them free. Many also have shops where books and recordings may be purchased.

Keep your eyes and mind open: there are opportunities everywhere in Ecuador to sample local culture. The people of Ecuador are excited when a foreigner wants to participate in a town festival or other local celebrations: let the locals be your guides and enjoy!

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Oswaldo GuayasamĂ­n, Quito's Street Food, Ecuadorian Literature and Art and Painting in Ecuador.

13 Sep 2012

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