Stamp Collecting in South America

The conventional wisdom is that it is wealth and education that determines the rate at which a nation collects stamps. I just came back from Ecuador where I visited the Galapagos Islands and Quito and am fascinated but how little philately seems to have caught on in that country. By world standards, Ecuador is average in per capita income and, even though its education level is low, one would expect at least some philately in the country. And yet a google search turns up only one stamp dealer in Quito (and he has a post office box) and no dealers in Guayaquil. And Ecuador is hardly unusual in Latin America. Only Argentina and Chile have strongish native collecting bases and this can largely be explained by the large influx of European immigrants in the nineteenth century. Nearly everywhere else in Latin America, where the population has retained the old mix of indigenous, Spanish and mestizo, stamp collectors are few and far between. And this seems irrespective of economic well being. Mexico and Brazil are becoming wealthy countries but stamp collecting still languishes and is still very small on a per capita basis. Stamp collecting is very popular in China but there are many more reasons for this than just philately as I have written in earlier posts. It seems that philately in its serious forms is a European phenomenon that has taken root a bit in the United States and only a few other parts of the word.

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