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Ecuador Ethnicity & Culture
(page 8 of 9)

Afro-Ecuadorians
People of African descent first came to Ecuador in 1553. A boat carrying slaves from Panama to Peru was stranded off the coast of what is now Esmeraldas.

In Esmeraldas, the African slaves revolted and were able to overpower their White captors. This small group of approximately 25 slaves subsequently came ashore and escaped into the dense jungle characteristic of Ecuador's coastal lowlands.

In this rich and fertile zone, the first Afro-Ecuadorians founded their villages. The geography of these early settlements was made up of wide beaches, mangrove forests, crystal clear rivers and tropical rain forests.

Life would have been relatively ideal for these early settlers if it was not for the fact that these lands were already inhabited by native peoples, including the Cayapas, Chachis, Niguas and Campaces. However, with time, and after some fierce struggles, the diverse populations were able to establish truces enabling them to coexist peacefully.

In the late 19th century, the people from Esmeraldas, were able to buy the land upon which they lived from a liberal Ecuadorian government.

A group of Afro-Ecuadorians migrated eastward from Esmeraldas, over the Andes mountains, and founded the town of Chota just north of what is now the city of Ibarra. Chota is the only black enclave in the Ecuadorian Andes. (This small and impoverished town has recently gained notoriety because it is the home of Ecuadorian national team soccer stars Agustin Delgado and Ulysses de la Cruz)

Afro-Ecuadorian culture is characterized by their lively, Caribbean style music and their delicious fish-based cuisine.

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