Ecuador is one of the smallest countries of South America. It lies on the west coast of the continent between Colombia and Peru. The equator crosses Ecuador and gives the country its name. ‘Ecuador’ is the Spanish word for ‘equator.’ The vast areas of land- – mountain slopes, mountain valleys between mountain ranges, high plateaus and coastal plains- – are all very rich. The great Andes Mountains rise through a large portion of Central Ecuador. Half of the Ecuadorian people live in the valleys and on the plateaus of the Andes. The other half live in the coastal plains. Here they plant bananas, rice, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, yam, beans, coffee and other tropical products. Other areas are widely planted with corn, wheat, barley, potatoes, cocoa, fruits and vegetables. Despite the mineral wealth enclosed in the Andes Mountains, and despite a considerable potential for hydroelectric power, many Ecuadorians continue to live in poverty- -living a peaceful life, simply farming and feeding on the produce of the farm.
“Although Ecuador is only a small country, it is blessed with a variety of nutritious plant food- -grains, beans, fruits and vegetables which form the basic traditional diet of the Ecuadorian people”, says Juan Leon. “The different Indian cultures ate this kind of traditional diet. They were the so-called ‘primitive’ inhabitants of Ecuador. I say so-called because for me they were not primitive at all. They had already created advanced civilizations in Ecuador at the time that people in certain regions in Europe were still living as nomads! The native Indian cultures of Ecuador were a model for other South American civilizations. They were the forerunners not only in simple healthy vegetable diet but also in art, craftsmanship and religiosity”, says Juan Leon.
The native Indian cultures of Ecuador were a model for other South American civilizations.