Along with Bolivia, Ecuador is a country which recognizes the right of native ethnic groups to assume affiliations within the formal state.
In 2009, Bolivia’s controversial constitution formal bestowed this right to it’s indigenous population.
In Ecuador, these countries-within-a-country are represented by criollos, mestizos, and Afro-Ecuadorians across the country. Ecuador officially recognized these groups, and granted them certain rights in 1998 by officially recognizing the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, of 1989.
An estimated 25% of Ecuador’s population is indigenous (while another 65% is mixed between European, African, and indigenous heritages).
A certain hemoganization of the indigenous population occured starting in 1463, with the Inca conquest of the various groups in the area previously. Under the reign of Incan King Pachacutec, the empire instituted a policy of integration of Quechua-speakers who were loyal to the empire into areas that had been resistant.
Despite the Incan influence, today there are at least 21 identifiably unique indigenous groups in Ecuador.