Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands - Language & Culture
Ecuadorian Language and Culture
The official language in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is Spanish. Most locals especially those living in the highlands and Sierra are bilingual. Kichwa, also known as Quichua or Quechua, is the second most widely used language there.
Other commonly used languages are Chibcha and various indigenous languages. They include Awapit (by the Awá), A’ingae (by the Cofan), Achuar-Shiwiar (by the Achuar and the Shiwiar), Cha’palaachi (by the Chachi), Tsa’fiki (by the Tsáchila), Paicoca (by the Siona and the Secoya) as well as Wao Tededeo (by the Waorani). In the south, the most widely spoken indigenous language is Shuar with around 100,000 speakers. There are approximately 23 different languages spoken throughout Ecuador.
The locals always appreciate it when you try to speak to them in Spanish no matter how ‘broken’ or fluent your Spanish may be. It is the effort that counts. English can be used and understood, but it can be difficult for older people and in certain regions.
Customs and traditions
Ecuadorians are known to be very hospital, friendly and helpful. However, like every place on earth, there are certain customs and traditions that visitors should take note of. While our site is not able to cover everything in this diverse and vibrant country, here are some tips for you.
Ecuadorians are known for their ‘South American laid-backness’. Hence it is always good to be a little more patient and to include some waiting time in your travel itinerary. Basic courtesy includes bringing small gifts when you are invited to someone’s home and avoid giving negative comments.
Please note that photographing airports, military equipment, and the police is strictly prohibited. If you would like to photograph someone, we strongly suggest that you ask for permission first. To be polite, you should also show them the pictures you just took. When you ask for their permission, you will usually receive a wider smile, a better pose and even get into a conversation to know them better!
Smokers will not have any problem in Ecuador as smoke zones are clearly indicated. Smoking outside these designated areas may result in a hefty penalty. As long as you follow the rules and regulation and treat everyone with respect and politeness, there should not be any problem.