Ecuador's mainstream culture is defined by its Hispanic mestizo majority, and, like their ancestry, it is traditionally of Spanish heritage, influenced in different degrees by Amerindian traditions and in some cases by African elements. The first and most substantial wave of modern immigration to Ecuador consisted of Spanish colonists, following the arrival of Europeans in 1499. A lower number of other Europeans and North Americans migrated to the country in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries and, in smaller numbers, Poles, Lithuanians, English, Irish, and Croats during and after the Second World War.
Since African slavery was not the workforce of the Spanish colonies in the Andes Mountains, given the subjugation of the Amerindian people through proselytization and encomiendas, the minority population of African descent is mostly found in the coastal northern province of Esmeraldas. This is largely owing to the 17th-century shipwreck of a slave-trading galleon off the northern coast of Ecuador. The few black African survivors swam to the shore and penetrated the then-thick jungle under the leadership of Anton, the chief of the group, where they remained as free men maintaining their original culture, not influenced by the typical elements found in other provinces of the coast or in the Andean region. A little later, runaway slaves from Colombia known as cimarrones joined them. In the small Chota Valley of the province of Imbabura exists a small community of Africans among the province's predominantly mestizo population. These blacks are descendants of Africans, who were brought over from Colombia by Jesuits to work their colonial sugar plantations as slaves. As a general rule, small elements of zambos and mulattoes coexisted among the overwhelming mestizo population of coastal Ecuador throughout its history as gold miners in Loja, Zaruma, and Zamora and as shipbuilders and plantation workers around the city of Guayaquil. Today you can find a small community of Africans in the Catamayo valley of the predominantly mestizo population of Loja.
Ecuador's Amerindian communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees, but some may also practice their own native cultures, particularly the more remote Amerindian communities of the Amazon basin. Spanish is spoken as the first language by more than 90% of the population and as a first or second language by more than 98%. Part of Ecuador's population can speak Amerindian languages, in some cases as a second language. Two percent of the population speak only Amerindian languages.
The music of Ecuador has a long history. Pasillo is a genre of indigenous Latin music. In Ecuador it is the "national genre of music". Through the years, many cultures have brought their influences together to create new types of music. There are also different kinds of traditional music like albazo, pasacalle, fox incaico, tonada, capishca, Bomba (highly established in Afro-Ecuadorian societies), and so on. Tecnocumbia and Rockola are clear examples of the influence of foreign cultures. One of the most traditional forms of dancing in Ecuador is Sanjuanito. It's originally from northern Ecuador (Otavalo-Imbabura). Sanjuanito is a type of dance music played during festivities by the mestizo and Amerindian communities. According to the Ecuadorian musicologist Segundo Luis Moreno, Sanjuanito was danced by Amerindian people during San Juan Bautista's birthday. This important date was established by the Spaniards on June 24, coincidentally the same date when Amerindian people celebrated their rituals of Inti Raymi.
Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with the altitude and associated agricultural conditions. Most regions in Ecuador follow the traditional three course meal of soup, a course that includes rice and a protein, and then dessert and coffee to finish. Supper is usually lighter and sometimes consists only of coffee or herbal tea with bread.
In the highland region, pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular and are served with a variety of grains (especially rice and corn) or potatoes.
In the coastal region, seafood is very popular, with fish, shrimp, and ceviche being key parts of the diet. Generally, ceviches are served with fried plantain (chifles y patacones), popcorn, or tostado. Plantain- and peanut-based dishes are the basis of most coastal meals. Encocados (dishes that contain a coconut sauce) are also very popular. Churrasco is a staple food of the coastal region, especially Guayaquil. Arroz con menestra y carne asada (rice with beans and grilled beef) is one of the traditional dishes of Guayaquil, as is fried plantain, which is often served with it. This region is a leading producer of bananas, Cocoa beans (to make chocolate), shrimp, tilapia, mango, and passion fruit, among other products.
In the Amazon region, a dietary staple is the yuca, elsewhere called cassava. Many fruits are available in this region, including bananas, tree grapes, and peach palms.
The best known art styles from Ecuador belonged to the Escuela Quiteña, which developed from the 16th to 18th centuries, examples of which are on display in various old churches in Quito. Ecuadorian painters include Eduardo Kingman, Oswaldo Guayasamín, and Camilo Egas from the Indiginist Movement; Manuel Rendon, Jaime Zapata, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Theo Constanté, Luis Molinari, Araceli Gilbert, Judith Gutierrez, Felix Arauz, and Estuardo Maldonado from the Informalist Movement; and Luis Burgos Flor with his abstract, futuristic style. The Amerindian people of Tigua, Ecuador, are also world-renowned for their traditional paintings.