Who lives in the Amazon?
In the centuries since Columbus discovered
the the New World, many Europeans have migrated to South America. Most of
the people living in South America today have both European and indigenous
ancestors. Until recently, however, few of them lived in the Amazon. They
preferred to live in established cities along the coasts and in the Andes
But in the past few decades, more and more mestizos have moved
to the Amazon. They were having trouble finding work in their hometowns
and saw opportunity in the Amazon. Many went looking for agricultural land.
Others took jobs in oil fields or other industries.
Let's look at what's been happening
in Ecuador. Ecuador is on the west coast of South America. About a third
of the country lies within the Amazon. Since the 1950s, Ecuadorians (mostly
mestizos) from the Andean highlands and the western coastal plain have been
migrating to the Amazon. The population of the Ecuadorian Amazon has increased
from about 60,000 people in the 1950s to 350,000 people now. By clearing
forest to build homes, plant crops, and extract petroleum, these people
have had a dramatic impact on the rainforest.
Settlement in the Ecuadorian Amazon 1960 to 1990
What kinds of problems might this migration into the Amazon
create? Explore some of the impacts on Quichua life and the land in Making a Living.