The vast majority of Ecuadorians are Catholic. During your trip to Ecuador, you'll have plenty of opportunities to learn about the importance of religion, be it Catholicism or the role of ancient beliefs in the population's daily lives.
Religion plays a predominant role in Ecuador and has, since the 19th Century, become a primordial feature of daily life. The then President, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, decreed that only Catholics could benefit from Ecuadorian nationality and have the right to vote. Fortunately this law no longer exists. Even so, religious worship has not lost its hold. You only need to see Ecuador's ornate cathedrals and incredible number of churches to appreciate its importance. .
If you happen to be in Ecuador during one of its many religious festivals, make sure you go along. The enthusiasm and fervour is jaw-dropping. Huge crowds pack the streets and follow numerous processions that wind their way around the towns. Unlike other countries in the region, Ecuador has never adopted Protestanism.
When Christianity arrived in Ecuador, Catholic priests were obliged to accept a folkloric approach to religion in order to convert the population. Blessing the Earth and animals became part of daily worship. You'll find evidence in the churches, where Christ is associated with the sun and the Virgin Mary with the moon. Indeed, many believe that the Virgin Mary is none other than Pachamama, or Mother Earth. The Catholic hierarchy has long since accepted that to keep its faith alive, it must accept the population's interpretation. Churches often have openings other than a door. They're designed to let the sunshine in, so it falls on statues of the Virgin Mary during soltices. This is rooted in ancient Amerindian belief systems. In rural areas, such ancient practices are even more apparent. Healers or 'Yachacs' are consulted more frequently than doctors and no one builds a house without burying a llama foetus in the foundations or raising a cross.