Settling in South America, Croats also came to Ecuador at the end of the 19th century. They first settled the province of Manabi, which is located by the ocean and the cities of Bahia de Caraquez and Manta, and Guayaquil in the province of Guayas. They still live there today, and there are the fewest of them in the capital, Quito.
We do not have much information about Croats in Ecuador. Between the two wars, records of emigration and return of emigrants were kept, which was handled by the Emigrants’ Commissariat, which operated under the Ministry of Social Policy and Public Health. According to their report from 1938, only about a hundred Croats lived in Ecuador. To date, that number has risen to 4,000.
Part of the Croats in Ecuador originate from the islands of central Dalmatia, such as Pečarević, Tramontana and Marić from the island of Vis, Peribonio from Hvar or Kusanović and Radić from the island of Brač.
Some came from Konavle, such as the Ćurlica, Kravarović, Knežević, Savinović and Uskoković families.
Some come from the interior of Dalmatia, like the Buljubašić family from Župa near Imotski or the Barukčić family from Bosnia.
In the beginning, Croats were engaged in trade in Ecuador. At the end of the 19th century, they were attracted by the search for a palm from which plant ivory was obtained (TAGUA – seeds of the palm). It grew in the mountains of the Manabi province, and was exported to Europe for the production of buttons, which were put on fine shirts, until plastic was invented. Today tagua is used to make buttons only in high fashion and for making jewelry and souvenirs. The tree takes 15 years to grow, and the seed is dried in the sun for three months before processing.
The wave of Croat immigration between the two wars was linked to the production of bananas, which the people of Višan, Hvar and Dubrovnik were mostly engaged in. Since 1956, Ecuador has become the largest exporter of bananas in the world. Today, bananas from Ecuador arrive at the port of Rijeka via an established route.
After World War II, immigration decreased, so more Croats were attracted to neighboring Peru. Ecuador has a reputation, as a small and poor country, because Ecuadorians are comfortable and not hardworking. On the contrary, the country offers great opportunities, as it is rich in minerals and fish, and has conditions for agriculture and trade. When foreigners come, motivated to work, they can quickly and fabulously get rich.
Today’s Ecuador is a republic with 22 provinces, bordering Colombia to the north and Peru to the south, and the Pacific island of Galapagos also belongs to it. Ecuador is partly located on the Pacific, it also has a mountainous part, and a part that belongs to the Amazon, and all this on a territory of about 260,000 km2, which means that it is almost 5 times larger than Croatia. We can say that Ecuador, in some sense, has a lot of similarities with Croatia, because it is not a big country, but it is geographically diverse. Historically, Ecuador, like Croatia, was attacked by its neighbors, so it was at war with Peru four times.
According to the 2000 census, Ecuador has a population of 12,500,000. Fairly divided, half counted by men and half by women.
The most frequent Croatian surnames in Ecuador are:
Branka Bezić Filipović