Archived 15th edition
Ethnologue.com home
Ethnologue > Web version > Country index > Americas > Ecuador

Languages of Ecuador

See language map.
Republic of Ecuador, República del Ecuador. 13,212,742. 2,300,000 speakers of American Indian languages (Adelaar 1991). National or official languages: Spanish, Cofan, Quichua. Literacy rate: 70% to 90%. Also includes English (65,000), Standard German (32,000), Arabic (1,800), Chinese (7,000). Information mainly from SIL 1955–2003. Blind population: 10,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf population: 64,692 to 150,000 or more (1986 Gallaudet University). Deaf institutions: 3. The number of languages listed for Ecuador is 24. Of those, 23 are living languages and 1 is extinct.

Living languages

Achuar-Shiwiar

[acu] 2,000 in Ecuador. Ethnic population: 5,000 (2000). Pastaza and Bobonaza river areas, 7 villages. Alternate names: Achuar, Achual, Achuara, Achuale, Jivaro, Maina.  Classification: Jivaroan 
More information.

Awa-Cuaiquer

[kwi] 1,000 in Ecuador (1991 Adelaar). Ethnic population: 2,000 in Ecuador (2000). Extreme north, on the western slopes of the Andes, Colombia-Ecuador border, Carchi Province. Alternate names: Awa, Awapit, Cuaiquer.  Classification: Barbacoan, Pasto 
More information.

Chachi

[cbi] 3,450 (2000 SIL). Ethnic population: 3,500 to 5,000. North coastal jungle, Esmeraldas Province, Cayapas River and its tributaries (Onzole, Canandé, Sucio, Cojimíes, and others). Alternate names: Cayapa, Cha' Palaachi.  Classification: Barbacoan, Cayapa-Colorado 
More information.

Cofán

[con] 800 in Ecuador (2000 Juncosa). 800 monolinguals. Population total all countries: 1,400. Ethnic population: 1,500. Both sides of the Colombia and Ecuador border, Napo Province near Santa Rosa de Sucumbios, and down the Aguarico River about 80 miles. Sucumbios Province. 5 centers in Ecuador, and scattered places between. Also spoken in Colombia. Alternate names: Kofán, A'i, Kofane, A'ingae.  Dialects: Chibchan with Western Tucanoan features (Ferndon, Borman), Barbacoan (J.A. Mason), or Jivaroan (Ruhlen 1987).  Classification: Chibchan, Cofan 
More information.

Colorado

[cof] 2,300 (2000 SIL). Ethnic population: 2,300 (2000 SIL). Northwestern jungle west of Quito, around Santo Domingo de los Colorados. Alternate names: Tsachila, Tsafiki.  Classification: Barbacoan, Cayapa-Colorado 
More information.

Ecuadorian Sign Language

[ecs] 188,000 (1986 Gallaudet Univ.).  Dialects: Slight regional variants in sign languages. Some influences from USA Peace Corps, others from people educated in Spain or Argentina.  Classification: Deaf sign language 
More information.

Epena

[sja] 50 in Ecuador (2000 Wiebe). Town of Borbón. Northern Pacific Coast. Alternate names: Emberá-Saija, Epená, Saija, Epená Saija, Epéna Pedée, Southern Embera, Southern Empera, Cholo.  Dialects: Basurudo.  Classification: Choco, Embera, Southern 
More information.

Media Lengua

[mue] 1,000 (1999 Peter Bakker). Population includes first- and second-language speakers. A few villages. Classification: Mixed Language, Spanish-Quechua 
More information.

Quichua, Calderón Highland

[qud] 25,000 (1987 SIL). Ethnic population: 35,049 (2000 WCD). Calderón and Cayambe areas of Pichincha Province around Quito. Alternate names: Calderón Quichua, Pichincha Quichua, Cayambe Quichua.  Dialects: Distinct from Chimborazo, Imbabura, Salasaca.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Cañar Highland

[qxr] 100,000 (1991 UBS). Southern highlands, Cañar Province. Dialects: Lexical differences and a strong sense of linguistic and cultural identity make separate literature necessary.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Chimborazo Highland

[qug] 1,000,000 (1990 UBS). Central highlands, Chimborazo and Bolivar provinces. Dialects of Cotopaxi and the rest of Tungurahua, large towns around Ambato not called Salasaca. Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Imbabura Highland

[qvi] 300,000 (1977 SIL). Many monolinguals. Northern highlands, Imbabura Province. Alternate names: Otavalo Quichua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Loja Highland

[qvj] 30,524 (2000 WCD). Northern area of Loja Province in southern highlands. Alternate names: Saraguro Quichua, Loja Quichua.  Dialects: Close to Cañar Highland Quichua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Napo Lowland

[qvo] 4,000 in Ecuador (2000 SIL). Ethnic population: 5,000 in Ecuador. Eastern jungle along the Napo, Aguarico, and Putomayo rivers, concentrated near schools. Alternate names: Ingano, Lowland Napo Quichua, Napo Quichua, Runa Shimi.  Dialects: Santa Rosa Quechua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Northern Pastaza

[qvz] 4,000 in Ecuador. Population total all countries: 6,000. Eastern jungle along Bobonaza and Conambo rivers, Pastaza Province. Tigre Quechua is in Peru. Also spoken in Peru. Alternate names: Bobonaza Quichua, Pastaza Quichua, Alama, Canelos Quichua, Sarayacu Quichua.  Dialects: Tigre Quechua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Salasaca Highland

[qxl] 14,331 (2000 WCD). South and east of Ambato in Tungurahua Province. At least 15 towns in the Salasaca area, not counting other varieties of Quichua. Alternate names: Salasaca Quichua, Tungurahua Quichua, Tungurahua Highland Quichua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Tena Lowland

[quw] 5,000 (1976 SIL). Eastern jungle, Tena, Arajuno, Shandia area. Alternate names: Yumbo.  Dialects: Napo, Pastaza and Tena Quichua understand each other's spoken language, but not written texts.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Secoya

[sey] 290 in Ecuador. Population includes 170 Secoya Angotero, 120 Ecuadorian Siona. Population total all countries: 434. Ethnic population: 297 (1987 Vickers). Northeastern jungle Aguarico, Cuyabeno, and Eno rivers, near Colombian border. Also spoken in Peru. Dialects: Ecuadorian Siona, Angotero. Identical to Secoya in Peru. Ecuadorian Siona is distinct from Siona of Colombia.  Classification: Tucanoan, Western Tucanoan, Northern, Siona-Secoya 
More information.

Shuar

[jiv] 46,669 (2000 WCD). Ethnic population: 15,000 to 50,000 (Montaluisa). Southeastern jungle, Morona-Santiago Province. Alternate names: Jivaro, Xivaro, Jibaro, Chiwaro, Shuara.  Classification: Jivaroan 
More information.

Siona

[snn] 250 in Ecuador (2000 Juncosa). Putumayo River. Classification: Tucanoan, Western Tucanoan, Northern, Siona-Secoya 
More information.

Spanish

[spa] 9,500,000 in Ecuador (1995).  Alternate names: Castellano, Español.  Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Ibero-Romance, West Iberian, Castilian 
More information.

Waorani

[auc] 1,650 (2004). Ethnic population: 1,400 (2000 SIL). Eastern jungle between the Napo and Curaray rivers. Alternate names: "Auca", Huaorani, Waodani, Huao, Sabela.  Classification: Language Isolate 
More information.

Záparo

[zro] 1 (2000 SIL). Ethnic population: 170 (2000 M. R. Wise SIL). Pastaza Province, Peru border, between the Curaray and Bobonaza rivers. Alternate names: Zápara, Kayapwe.  Classification: Zaparoan  Nearly extinct.
More information.

Extinct languages

Tetete

[teb] Extinct. Ethnic population: 3 (1969 SIL). Near the Colombian border, eastern jungle in Cofán area. Dialects: Close to Secoya but intelligible only with difficulty.  Classification: Tucanoan, Western Tucanoan, Northern, Tetete 
More information.