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the population of Ecuador. According to a 1976 estimate, the Ecuadorians number 7.3 million. Most (about 80 percent) are Spanish-Indian mestizos and Indians, primarily Quechua; the remainder are mulattoes, Negroes, Zambos, and white descendants of the European settlers. A considerable part of the population speaks Spanish, which is the official language of Ecuador, and part speaks Quechua. Most Equadorians are Roman Catholic, but there are also Protestants.
More than 45 percent of Ecuadorians, mainly mestizos, mulattoes, and Negroes, live in the coastal areas west of the Andes; most of the Quechua live in the mountains. The central valley and the areas east of the Andes are inhabited by the forest Indians, who have retained a tribal way of life, their own languages, and ancient traditional beliefs.