The Chorrera culture inhabited today’s province of Santa Elena, in the lower reaches of the Guayas river basin, and the eastern banks of the Babahoyo River, in the province of Los Ríos. Some communities also extended to the provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas. La Chorrera is the most widely scattered culture in Ecuadorian territory; it settled both on ocean shores and in coastal mountain ranges, and even in certain valleys of the Ecuadorian Sierra. Its expansion goes to show its versatility and ability for living in and making use of different environments, exchanging goods and moving between zones.

This culture made significant headway in agriculture, such as the slash and burn system and that of building dry stone retaining walls. It also consolidated prestigious ceremonial centers, which gathered large numbers of devotees, thus forming broad-based intercommunal alliances, which had the effect of stepping up both land and seaborne commerce in exotic goods over long distances.


Chorrera opened new horizons in pottery practices, drawing away from the merely utilitarian to create pieces featuring representations or imitations of nature, while also discovering new techniques. Birds, fish, sea shells, fruits and vegetables were represented in their work. Their bottle whistles deserve special mention. Their human figurines are hollow and in many cases were made using molds. Their pottery work was characterized by painstaking attention to detail and by its finish. Their decoration techniques include polychrome use of color, iridescent paint, negative painting, and the carving and etching of symbolic motifs.