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Culture & Identity of El Salvador

WARNING: Violence is common in El Salvador, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction

Life in El Salvador is still settling down after years of violence and wars. The economy is also ever-changing, meaning there are few consistencies across the people in terms of lifestyle. The people are divided between urban and rural settings, they have jobs in numerous fields and sectors, and priorities vary from person to person.

For many people in El Salvador life is experience in an urban setting as nearly two-thirds of the people live in cities. Many of these people hold jobs in the services sector and have fairly regular working hours. Jobs tend to be one of the greatest contributing factors to lifestyle as it gives the people a routine and schedule. Likewise schools do the same for children and many children do attend school in Panama today although school hours vary from location to location.

For others the way of life is based on the lands as farming is a popular occupation in the country. In many rural areas work takes place when mother nature allows it and whatever mother nature gives is used to support family, perhaps making enough to use some money on entertainment.

Entertainment in El Salvador is slow to return as few people have enough discretionary income to use on dinners out, drinks, or dancing. However, throughout the country there are many people who can afford these luxuries and do so on a regular basis, leaving no shortage of entertainment options in many places. Despite this, many people still prefer to spend free time at home with family, but there is little homogeny on the lifestyle in the country.

Identity

While most people in El Salvador identify as Salvadoran, the people greatly dispute who can or should be included in this definition as how it is defined tends to vary from person to person, or group from group. This definition is primarily defined as anyone who is a citizen, speaks Spanish, and is mestizo, which is a mix of European and Native American ancestry. Oddly, although nearly every Salvadoran has some native blood in them, having "too much" native blood is viewed as a bad thing and speaking Pipil or another native language will remove a person from the identity entirely according to many. In addition to nationality, language, and ethnicity, any further definition of being Salvadoran is debatable as foods, customs, and religion are generally also included in this definition, but not always. Despite this similar identity, many people also try to attach political beliefs to the identity, but again this is not a commonly accepted trait of the identity.

Many people also cling to a second identity of being "Hispanic" or "Latin American." People who identify as Hispanic (in the Americas) are generally a mix of Spanish and Native American ancestry who speak Spanish. It is this ethnic and linguistic link that is the true definition of the term, although today the foods, music, religion, and dress of the people are also closely associated with the term. Although the word "Hispanic" can refer to anyone with a historic tie to Spain or Portugal, in the Americas it tends to be an inclusive identity only referring to Spanish-speaking people from the Americas. Latin American is more inclusive as it refers to anyone from Latin America, no matter a person's ethnicity or linguistic affiliation.

This page was last updated: December, 2013