• Indigenous peoples in Ecuador

    Indigenous peoples in Ecuador

    Ecuador’s indigenous population numbers some 1.1 million peoples composed by 14 indigenous nationalities. Ecuador voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and has ratified ILO Convention 169.
  • Peoples

    1.1 million peoples in Ecuador are indigenous peoples.
  • Geography

    24.1 per cent of the country's indigenous population live in the Amazon
  • Organisations

    14 indigenous nationalities grouped into local, regional, and national organisations can be found in Ecuador


Indigenous peoples in Ecuador 

The indigenous population in Ecuador accounts for approximately 1.1 million people. Ecuador voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and has ratified ILO Convention 169. However, the indigenous population does not have full guarantees of civil, political, cultural, and territorial rights, and are still facing a number of serious challenges, and there aren't any specific public policies in place to prevent and neutralise the risk of disappearance of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples in Ecuador 

The indigenous population of Ecuador represent around 1.1 million out of a total country population of 16,464,448 inhabitants. There are 14 indigenous nationalities living in the country, grouped into local, regional, and national organisations.

24.1% of the indigenous population live in the Amazon, divided into 10 nationalities. Of the Andean Kichwa population, 7.3% live in the Southern Mountains and 8.3% in the Coastal region and on the Galapagos Islands. The majority of indigenous people, that is 60.3%, live in the six provinces of the Central-North Mountains. Of these, 87.5% still live in rural areas and 21.5% in the urban sector.

The Shuar, who form a nationality of more than 100,000 people, have a strong presence in three provinces of the Amazonian Centre-South, where they account for between 8%and 79% of the total population. The rest are spread in small groups across the country.

There are different nationalities with very little populations that are in a highly vulnerable situation. In the Amazon, the A’i Cofán with 1,485 inhabitants, the Shiwiar with 1,198 inhabitants, the Siekopai with 689 inhabitants, the Siona with 611 inhabitants, and the Sapara with 559 inhabitants. On the coast, we can find the Épera with 546 inhabitants and the Manta with 311 inhabitants.

Main challenges for Ecuador’s indigenous peoples

The public policies ensuring automatic or full guarantees of indigenous rights in Ecuador, particularly civil and political, cultural and territorial, generally have not improved.

A key problem for the Waorani peoples revolves around the state’s persistent promotion of the exploitation of oil on their territory known as the Waorani Reserve and the Yasuní National Park. There is also an aggressive presence of large-scale mining on the Shuar territory.

Potential progress for indigenous peoples in Ecuador

A presidential call for a referendum to be held in February 2018 wants to ensure the support of the indigenous movement and environmental groups by including questions on banning extractive activities, for example, metal mining in ecologically fragile areas, and on limiting oil exploitation in Block 43 of the Yasun. National Park.

Neglected Isolated Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador

The advances in the defense of Isolated Indigenous Peoples (IIP), which have been supported by the Ecuadorian State for the last 14 years, have not been translated into an effective protection within their territories. Even the acknowledgment of the existence of these peoples in article 57 of the 2008 Constitution ceased to exist every time the extraction of resources was prioritized. Over and over again, a “schizophrenic” State failed to keep the promises made to protect their rights.

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The Indigenous World 2021: Ecuador

The current population of Ecuador is 17,475,570 inhabitants (National Institute of Statistics and Census INEC, August 2020), and there are 14 Indigenous nationalities totalling nearly 1,100,000 inhabitants, grouped into a number of local, regional and national organisations. 24.1% live in the Amazon and belong to 10 nationalities; 7.3% of the Andean Kichwa live in the Southern Highlands; 60.3% of the Andean Kichwa live in six provinces of the Central-Northern Sierra; and the remaining 8.3% live in the Coastal region and the Galapagos Islands. More than eight years after the new Constitution came into force and 20 years after ILO Convention 169 was ratified in the country, there are still no clear and specific public policies to prevent and neutralise the risk of the disappearance of these peoples.

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Indigenous World 2019: Ecuador

The indigenous population of Ecuador is close to 1.1 million, out of a total population of 17,200,000 inhabitants. The country is inhabited by 14 indigenous nationalities, joined together in a series of local, regional and national organizations. 24.1% of the indigenous population lives in the Amazon and belongs to ten nationalities.

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State racism, uprooting and memory loss: Indigenous women in Ecuador's prisons

Official statistics obscure the fact that the number of criminalized individuals and communities belonging to Indigenous Peoples far exceeds the number of prisoners who actually self-identify as Indigenous, because these figures exclude family members devoted to supporting them as well as the communities they were part of and to which they will eventually return once released. Similarly, statistics hide the fact that the majority of the prison population is of Indigenous and African origin and had been affected by racism, deprivation, massive waves of displacement to cities and oblivion.

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Indigenous World 2020: Ecuador

Ecuador’s Indigenous population accounts for close to 1.1 million people out of a total population of more than 17,300,000. There are 14 Indigenous nationalities living in the country, grouped into different local, regional and national organisations. Some 24.1% of the Indigenous population live in the Amazon and belong to 10 nationalities; 7.3% of the Andean Kichwa live in the southern Sierra; and 8.3% live along the coast and in the Galapagos Islands.

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Ecuador:Legislative reforms favor mining companies

The Ecuadoran government is committed to promoting large-scale mining, and to do so it must implement national legislation that, although contrary to constitutional principles, satisfies the economic interests of multinational mining companies that have been reluctant to invest in the country until they are guaranteed total control over the royalties the industry will produce.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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