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Coast Cultures
Jungle Cultures
Andes Cultures




The Tsáchila indigenous group have a population of about 2,000 and are located in the forest at the western foot of the Andes mountains. They used to be called the "Colorados" because of their way of combing and coloring their hair with achiote. They speak tsafiqui, a language which is related to the Awa and Chachi.

The name "Tsáchila" means the "true people" and are the best know Indigenous people in the coastal region. The Tsáchila became a tourist curiosity because of their stunning red body paint. Until the 1950s, when there was a road built through their territory and the area bagan to be colonized, the Tsáchila tribe remained isolated from the outside world and it's troubles. Now, more than the other coastal tribes, they have been integrated into the export-oriented agricultural economy and are quickly losing their traditions and culture.

The Chachi people add up to about 4000, 600 of who live in communities. Their territory is bordered by four rivers and so are well known for making canoes and traditional basket weaving. Their traditional language is similar to that of the Awa and Tsáchila.

The Chachi (traditionally called "Cayapas") often have troubles over limited resources with the Afro-Ecuadorians who occupy the same region. According to Chachi tradition, they are originally from the province of Imbabura in the highlands, but fled toward the coast when faced with Incan and Spanish conquests. Traditionally their economy was based on hunting, gathering and fishing, but now they take part in agriculture, both for household consumption as well as growing coffee and cocoa for export. They are organized into twenty-eight centers which are grouped into the Federación de Centros Chachi del Ecuador (FECCHE, Federation of Chachi Centers of Ecuador).

The Awa-Kwaiker are located in the northwest of Ecuador between the Mira and San Juan rivers in the province of Carchi. Other Awa communities are also located in the province of Imbabura, Esmeraldas and some in Colombia. They number about 1600. Their language (Awapi) forms part of the same linguistic family as the Chachi and Tsáchila. "Awa" means "people," but they are often called Kwaiker or Coaiquer sharing the name with a small Colombian town that is nearby their communities.


There are approximately 500,000 Afro-Ecuadorians located mainly in the province of Esmeraldas and the Valley of Chota. Their presence in Ecuador goes back to 1550, when there was a shipwrecked slave ship off the coasts of Ecuador.
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