Ethnologue.com home
Ethnologue > Web version > Country index > Americas > Ecuador

Languages of Ecuador

See language map.
Republic of Ecuador, República del Ecuador. 13,061,000. 2,300,000 speakers of American Indian languages (Adelaar 1991). National or official languages: Spanish, Cofan, Quichua. Literacy rate: 70%–90%. Immigrant languages: English (65,000), Standard German (32,000). Also includes 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 (Van Cleve 1986). Deaf institutions: 3. The number of individual languages listed for Ecuador is 24. Of those, 23 are living languages and 1 has no known speakers.
Achuar-Shiwiar

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

Awa-Cuaiquer

[kwi] 2,000 in Ecuador (2007), decreasing. 1,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 2,000 in Ecuador (2000). Extreme north, on the western slopes of the Andes, Colombia-Ecuador border, Esmeraldes Carchi and Imbabura provinces. Alternate names: Cuaiquer.  Classification: Barbacoan, Pasto 
More information.

Chachi

[cbi] 9,500 (2004). 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), increasing. 800 monolinguals. Population total all countries: 1,700. Ethnic population: 1,500. Both sides of the Colombia and Ecuador border, Napo Province near Santa Rosa de Sucumbios, and down Aguarico River about 130 km, Sucumbios Province. 5 centers in Ecuador, and scattered between. Also in Colombia. Alternate names: A’i, Kofán, Kofane.  Dialects: Chibchan with Western Tucanoan features (Ferndon, Borman), Barbacoan (J. Mason), or Jivaroan (Ruhlen 1987). Some Witotoan influences.  Classification: Chibchan, Cofan 
More information.

Colorado

[cof] 2,300 (2000 SIL), increasing. 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 (Van Cleve 1986).  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 N. Wiebe). Town of Borbón. Northern Pacific Coast. Alternate names: Cholo, Emberá-Saija, Epená, Epéna Pedée, Epená Saija, Saija, Southern Embera, Southern Empera.  Dialects: Basurudo.  Classification: Choco, Embera, Southern 
More information.

Media Lengua

[mue] 1,000 (1999 P. Bakker). L1 and L2 speakers. Cotopaxi Province, 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, Cayambe Quichua, Pichincha Quichua.  Dialects: Distinct from Chimborazo [qug], Imbabura [qvi], Salasaca [qxl].  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.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Chimborazo Highland

[qug] 1,000,000 (1990 UBS). Central highlands, Chimborazo and Bolivar provinces. 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] 30,500 (2000). Northern area of Loja Province in southern highlands. Large numbers now live in Zamora. Alternate names: Loja Quichua, Saraguro Quichua.  Dialects: Similar to Cañar Highland Quichua [qxr].  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Napo Lowland

[qvo] 6,000 in Ecuador (2006), increasing. Eastern jungle along the Napo, Aguarico, and Putomayo rivers, concentrated near schools. Alternate names: Ingano, Lowland Napo Quichua, Napo Quichua.  Dialects: Santa Rosa Quechua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Northern Pastaza

[qvz] 8,000 in Ecuador (2007), decreasing. Population total all countries: 10,000. Eastern jungle along Bobonaza and Conambo rivers, Pastaza Province. Also in Peru. Alternate names: Alama, Bobonaza Quichua, Canelos Quichua, Pastaza Quichua, Sarayacu Quichua.  Dialects: Tigre Quechua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Salasaca Highland

[qxl] 14,300 (2000). South and east of Ambato in Tungurahua Province. Spoken in 17 towns in the Salasaca area, not counting other varieties of Quichua. Varieties spoken in Cotopaxi and the rest of Tungurahua, large towns around Ambato, are not called Salasaca. See Chimborazo Highland Quichua [qug]. Alternate names: Salasaca Quichua, Tungurahua Highland Quichua, Tungurahua Quichua.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Quichua, Tena Lowland

[quw] 20,000 (1976 SIL). Eastern jungle, Tena, Arajuno, Shandia area. Alternate names: Yumbo, Napo Kichwa.  Dialects: Napo [qvo], Pastaza [qvz] and Tena [quw] Quichua understand each other’s spoken language, but not written texts.  Classification: Quechuan, Quechua II, B 
More information.

Secoya

[sey] 550 in Ecuador (2007). Population total all countries: 690. Northeastern jungle, Aguarico, Cuyabeno, and Eno rivers, near Colombian border. Also in Peru. Dialects: Ecuadorian Siona, Angotero. Identical to Secoya in Peru. Ecuadorian Siona is distinct from Siona [snn] of Colombia.  Classification: Tucanoan, Western Tucanoan, Northern, Siona-Secoya 
More information.

Shuar

[jiv] 46,700 (2000). Ethnic population: 15,000 to 50,000 (Montaluisa). Southeastern jungle, Morona-Santiago Province. Alternate names: Chiwaro, Jibaro, Jivaro, Shuara, Xivaro.  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.

Tetete

[teb] No known speakers. Ethnic population: 3 (1969 SIL). Near the Colombia border, eastern jungle in Cofán area. Dialects: Similar to Secoya [sey] but intelligible only with difficulty.  Classification: Tucanoan, Western Tucanoan, Northern, Tetete 
More information.

Waorani

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

Záparo

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