The South American nation of Ecuador is home to three official languages, which include: Spanish, Kichwa, and Shuar. Ecuador’s culture, ethnicity and languages spoken, have all been influenced by the country’s long history of Spanish colonialists, the Inca Empire, and the Amerindian peoples.

Out of these, the most widely spoken one is Spanish, which is spoken by around 93% of the population. As such, Spanish is the primary language of business, education, government and religion in Ecuador. It is also widely understood by the vast majority of the population. The variant of Spanish spoken in Ecuador varies slightly depending on the region. The regional varieties of Spanish in Ecuador include Equatorial Coastal, Andean, and Amazon. Despite the variations, however, most Spanish-speaking individuals are able to understand one another regardless of the region.

Along with Spanish, Kichwa and Shuar are the other two official languages of Ecuador. Kichwa is an indigenous language which belongs to the Quechuan family and which is primarily spoken in the Chimorazo region of Ecuador, where the number of speakers fluent in this language is estimated at somewhere between 1 and 2 million. Shuar language is an indigenous language which belongs to the Jivaroan language family. It is primarily concentrated in the regions of the Amazon jungle in the southeast of the country and spoken by around 35,000 individuals. Both Kichwa and Shuar are part of the educational curriculum at schools all over the nation.

Aside from Kichwa and Shuar, Ecuador has around 11 other minority indigenous languages: Achwa-Shiriwa, Awa-Cuaiquer, Siona, Secoya, Waorani, Tetete, Emberá, Colorado, Cofán, Cha’palaachi, and Záparo. The most widely spoken one of these languages is the Achwa-Shiriwa language which is spoken by around 13,000 native speakers. Most of them are found in the northern region of Ecuador. Out of these languages, Záparo is the most critically endangered, with only 5 living native speakers remaining as of 2018. Today, the Záparo indigenous peoples generally speak Kichwa, but there is a language revival movement that has begun in the recent years with the aim of reviving the Záparo language.


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