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Ecuador Crime Surprise

Our recent Ecuador crime update stimulated a great response.

Ecuador has really wonderful, sweet people and they have always seemed honest to me. Here are some of our neighbors arriving at a local football tournament that our foundation helped sponsor. We have always felt that Ecuadorians are more interested in play than crime. Here we see evidence that we may be correct.


However the note below concerned me. One reader wrote:

Gary, In your article you state that “Ecuador is not even in the top fifty nations for murder rates”

The posting then lists countries and their murder rates, which are taken from

Apparently many countries were solicited for this survey, but only 92 countries responded. Ecuador was not one of the responding countries.

What should be said is that the above data does not indicate anything about Ecuador’s overall murder rates.

Here Merri and I visit with a local community leader at the football tournament about how to help the indigenous Ecuadorians and many new Westerners arriving get to know each other better.


We want to thank the reader for sending the email above! This was one of the times when I forgot the phrase about statistics: “There are three types of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics.”

That reader’s note started me digging further.

We love being with Ecuadorians and their great family orientation. Here I am with our Godson’s mother at his Christening celebration.


And here is our Godson Qinti Anaki, (King of the Hummngbirds)


By digging through statistics I found a Wikepedia page on global murder rates.

This page shows that Ecuador has 18.33 murders per 100,000 population, Dominican Republic 23.5, Brazil 23.9, Mexico 25 and Colombia 37. Costa Rica looks much better at 7.6 and the USA is lower 5.7. Western European nations were even far low and Japan less than 1.

However the Wikipedia page notes that the statistics needed to be updated. The figures for many countries had differing dates.

Ecuador’s people love celebration and parades.


These shots were taken in Cotacachi where we always feel safe.


I dug even further into global crime. The further I dug, the more bewildering and less meaningful the statistics became. Maybe we need a new phrase, “There are three forms of confusion-confusion, damned confusion and statistics!”

Finally I came across an excellent report on Ecuador’s history that analyzed Ecuador crime in a most intelligent way. This page is in the “Crime and Society, a Comparative Criminology Tour of the World Page.

This report is published at ROHAN, the Academic Computing Web Server at San Diego State University is administered by University Library staff.

San Diego State University has a highly diverse student population of 33,000 students, including approximately 6,000 graduate students. With 75 masters, 3 masters of fine arts and 16 joint doctoral programs, San Diego State University is currently designated as a “research/high research” institution by the Carnegie Foundation and soon expects to be Doctoral/Research-Extensive.

This seemed like a very well thought out and balanced review on Ecuador crime. This definitely is worth a read if you want a broader view of Ecuador and Ecuador crime.

One portion of the report focuses on Ecuador’s crime and gives a broader view of crime and perhaps a better picture of Ecuador crime versus the USA.

It says: “The overall crime rate in Ecuador is low compared to industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Ecuador.

For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI’s index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.

The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Ecuador will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate).

According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 1999 was 25.92 per 100,000 population for Ecuador, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA.

For rape, the rate in 1999 was 6.2 for Ecuador, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA.

For robbery, the rate in 1999 was 95.85 for Ecuador, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA.

For aggravated assault, the rate in 1999 was 35.59 for Ecuador, 23.78 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA.

For burglary, the rate in 1999 was 164.52 for Ecuador, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA.

The rate of larceny for 1999 was 138.32 for Ecuador, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA.

The rate for motor vehicle theft in 1999 was 52.87 for Ecuador, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 414.17 for USA.

The rate for all index offenses combined was 519.27 for Ecuador, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA.

Only in the rate of murder does Ecuador exceed industrialized countries.

If my thinking is right, according to this study, girls “get out of America now”!

If you want the best chance to avoid the unlikely murder, move to Japan.

On the other hand if you are concerned about being robbed, ripped off or burgled with the much more likely larceny, then Ecuador is the place to be. The overall crime index in Ecuador was even much lower than Japan and a fraction of the USA.

This of course is still dated information and statistics are confusing and misleading. Whatever the current crime situation is in Ecuador the US or Japan, I state again as wrote in our last report on Ecuador crime:

The low crime statistics does not mean that Ecuador is for everyone.

I doubt that you will find any place where there is not risk, if you do not take care. Yet I always recommend for anyone to come to Ecuador if it does not feel right.

Go to places that seem exciting to you. Do not travel just because you dislike where you are. Travel because you have overwhelming excitement about where you are going!

Then, wherever you go, be careful. Remember that you have to go through a learning curve in any place that is new.

If Ecuador sounds exciting, please do come, look and see for yourself. Most who do and the many families who have moved here feel pretty darn safe…because we have learned where and where not to go.


Join us in Cotacachi this winter.

Jan. 16-21 Ecuador Spanish Course
Jan. 22-23 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Jan. 24-27 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Feb. 13-15 International Business & Investing Made EZ
Feb. 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

March 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
March 10-15 Ecuador Export Expedition
March 16-19 Coastal Real Estate Tour

Ecuadorians love music.


They love flowers and beauty.


They are friendly.


They are very religious. Here is the cathedral next to our hotel.



Here are Gary and Merri Scott with their Ecuador family and Godson, “Quinti Ananki” (King of the Hummingbirds).


Better still join us all year in Ecuador! See our schedule of 26 courses, tours, mingos and expeditions we’ll conduct in 2009.