Welcome to Ecuador, a tropical, marimba-filled gem in South America.
With a mix of Incan, African and Spanish influences, it has a rich variety of cultural features. Music has always been a large part of life, now shown in its many dance festivals and marimba music. Colorful weaving and woodcarvings show off the vibrant artistic flavor of the country.
Ecuador is a democratic republic, with an elected president every four years. Spanish is widely spoken, though it has a pattern all its own, and many native dialects from American Indians, such as Kichwa and Awapit are also used by many.
The family is extremely important in Ecuadorian culture. Families often work together, and when possible, meals (including lunch) are eaten together.
Days are often laid back and quiet. Families and neighbors enjoy taking walks in the evening, greeting friends or buying snacks. Weekend sports games and dancing are popular.
During the day, an Ecuadorian may eat meals that feature rice, seafood, peanuts and fresh fruit. Empanadas and ceviche are tasty parts of Ecuadorian cuisine. Lunch is usually a larger meal than dinner.
Schools are free and compulsory for the first nine years. After the ninth grade, students have a choice of attending classes in specific areas of study, including computer tech, mathematics, science or social studies.
The majority of schools require students to wear uniforms.
Completing a university degree is not as common in Ecuador as other Latin American countries.
Teenagers enjoy meeting in groups and seeing movies, going out dancing, going to bowling alleys and shopping. Soccer is the most popular sport in Ecuador, and many people also enjoy volleyball.
Teens often go out in groups, but relationships and dating are less common. Ecuadorian teens tend to dress casually, in jeans and khakis.