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Salvador is a direct translation from the Spanish that means "the Savior,"
referring to Jesus. The country is primarily Christian, specifically Catholic, and
believes Jesus was the Son of God and their savior.
WARNING: Violence is rampant
in El Salvador, please read this
travel warning before going!
El Salvador has its share of mountains, which divide the people and make the lands
difficult to access in areas. However, the valleys and flat lands are fertile and
easily accessible as this is where most of the people live today and in the past.
These fertile farm lands have always attracted people to the region as farming has
been one of the most important industries in the region for centuries and this continues
to be true today.
After the Spanish arrived, they intermarried many of the local people and today
most of the people are "mestizo," which is a combination of the indigenous
people and the Europeans. This marriage also intertwined the cultures of the people
and in some aspects Spanish traditions thrived, but other aspects of the local cultures
survived. Today most of the people are Catholic due to the Spanish and nearly everyone
is a native Spanish speaker in El Salvador. However some indigenous languages have
survived, as have many traditional foods and to a lesser dress traditional dress.
Despite the many changes the Spanish introduced, the way of life in the region remained
tied to agriculture and the lands. At first this farming was focused on foods that
allowed the indigenous people to survive, but this shifted with the arrival of the
Spanish when trade became more important. Agriculture shifted to focusing on indigo,
but today the crop of choice has again shifted, this time to coffee. This farming
lifestyle still dominates the culture today, but the exporting process and recent
technological changes have altered the culture rapidly in recent years. Being so
focused on exported goods, trading centers and cities have risen as urbanization
has occurred and job diversity and lifestyle differences have grown.
As the economy, lifestyle, and culture have changed so have the people. This has
been magnified with the division of the people in geographic terms as well. Technology
has also arrived, but is more accessible to some, vastly changing the lifestyle
and wealth of individuals, creating a widening social, economic, and political gap
among the people.
Today the people in El Salvador are divided by social class and where an individual
falls helps determine a person's way of life. The indigenous people, who tend
to be poor, generally live in rural areas and are often times agricultural workers
who have a lifestyle tied to the land as many ancient traditions persist. The middle
class of mestizos work in all areas, but feel suppressed by the rich, who generally
live in the cities and own much of the country's lands and industries, although
others work these lands.
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