Afro-Hispanic Pacific Lowlanders of Ecuador and Colombia - Orientation

Identification. All designations of Black people of the Pacific Lowlands are of foreign origin and indicate the combination of blackness and territory. Colloquially, in the region, "Gente Morena" (dark people) is polite usage, but intellectuals stress the Spanish terms "Negro" (Black), "Afro-Ecuatoriano" or "Afro-Colombiano," and, more generally, "Afro-Latinoamericano." "Mulato" is also used for very light people; "Zambo" refers to Black-indigenous "mixing" but has other usages. Such terms are normally used as adjectives, not nouns, such as "Pueblo Negro" (Black people) or "Comunidad Negra" (Black community). In the 1990s "Negro Fino" (refined Black) is used in Ecuador to differentiate Black people who are educated and are white-collar employees from those who are not.

Location. The Afro-Hispanic culture of the Pacific Lowlands of Ecuador and Colombia extends from Muisne in southern Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador, to the Río San Juan in Valle del Cauca Department, Colombia. It is part of the greater Pacific Lowlands Culture Area of Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. South of this area is a distinct Manabí culture region of Ecuador; north of the area is the Afro-American Chocó proper of Colombia, with Black culture shared with people of Darién Province, Panama. East of the region are the interior Andean zones of Ecuador and Colombia. Afro-Hispanic culture is predominant in the region Afro-Hispanics share with Tchachela, Chachi, and Awá Kwaiker indigenous people of Ecuador and with Awá Kwaiker, Noanamá, and Emberá native peoples of Colombia.

Linguistic Affiliation. Spanish was the language of conquest in Ecuador and Colombia and became the language, in creole transformations, of Black people of the Pacific Lowlands. Serious linguistic work remains to be undertaken on the dialect of creole Spanish spoken in Afro-Hispanic culture.

Demography. Between 400,000 and 500,000 Black people occupy this region, making it the densest population in the entire lowland rain-forest tropics of the Americas. About 85 percent of the population of the region shares Afro-Hispanic culture.

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