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The culture of El Salvador is similar to other countries in Latin America, and more specifically to other countries in Central America. The European influences are emphasized in the architecture of the colonial churches, museums and theaters throughout most of El Salvador. In addition, contemporary life in its cities has become similar to that of the rest of Latin America.
In El Salvador, there are different costumes used mostly in religious or other festivals, although in some of the older towns, they are still worn regularly. In female clothing, it is common to see elements like a scapular, a shawl, and a cotton headscarf with different coloured adornments. These can be worn with a skirt and a blouse, or with a dress. The normal footwear is sandals. With male clothing, it is common to see a cotton suit or a cotton shirt, worn with modern jeans, sandals or boots, and a cowboy hat. However, these are rural fashions, and there can be many variations depending on the area.
Salvadoran food has much in common with that of other Central American countries, but there are a number of local specialties.
A typical Salvadoran meal usually contains the following ingredients:
In El Salvador, the official language is Central American Spanish. Less than one percent of the population speaks the Pipil language, in places such as Izalco and several other towns. However there is no obligation academically or socially today to learn it, and the language is more commonly spoken by the elderly. Amongst the pre-Columbihi languages that still exist common to places such as Izalco and Cacaopera is Nawat Pipil. English is taught as a second language, and is commonly spoken by business people, as the country is developing through globalization.
Central American Spanish is spoken by the majority of the country's population. The language and pronunciation varies depending on region.
The main sport played by Salvadorans is football (soccer). The Estadio Cuscatlán in the capital San Salvador is the largest stadium in Central America, with a capacity of just over 45,000. The stadium is the home ground of the El Salvador national football team, as well as club teams Alianza FC and San Salvador F.C..
The main football clubs in El Salvador play in the Primera División, which is made up of the top ten clubs. Below the Primera División exists a second level or Segunda División, made up of 24 teams split into two groups of twelve. There is promotion and relegation between the two divisions at the end of each season.
The Catholic Church has been the most prominent religious institution in El Salvador since colonial times, with nearly 75% of the population identifying as Roman Catholic. However, reformed churches like Anglican, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, have experienced significant growth since the 1970s. Today, nearly 20% of the population belongs to one of these churches. Small communities of Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists also exist in some parts of the country. Today, over 40% of the country is Evangelical Christian.
The music of El Salvador has a mixture of Pipil and Spanish influences. This music includes religious songs (mostly used to celebrate Christmas and other holidays, especially feast days of the saints). Satirical and rural lyrical themes are common. Cuban, Colombian, and Mexican music has infiltrated the country, especially salsa and cumbia. Popular music in El Salvador uses marimba, tehpe'ch, flutes, drums, scrapers and gourds, as well as more recently imported guitars and other instruments. El Salvador's well known folk dance is known as Xuc which originated in Cojutepeque, Cuscatlan. Other musical repertoire consists of danza, pasillo, marcha and canciones.