Saturday, 30 November 2019

The Culture Of Saint Lucia

Costumes dancers in the Carnival parade
in Castries, Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia has a vibrant and lively culture that reflects influences of African, European, and East Indian cultures.

The island country of Saint Lucia is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea where it hosts a small population of 165,510 individuals. The country has a vibrant and lively culture that reflects the influence of African, European, and East Indian cultures. Learn more about life in Saint Lucia, including Saint Lucian cuisine, arts, sports, and societal norms.

Ethnicity, Languages, and Religion in Saint Lucia

People of African descent constitute the majority of Saint Lucia’s population (85.3%). Individuals of mixed descent and East Indian descent account for 10.9% and 2.2% of the country’s population, respectively. English is the official language of Saint Lucia. French patois is also widely spoken. The vast majority of Saint Lucia’s population practices Christianity. Roman Catholics and Protestant Christians account for 61.5% and 25.5% of Saint Lucia’s population, respectively.

Cuisine of Saint Lucia

The cuisine of Saint Lucia reflects influences of European, East Indian, and West African cuisines. Green banana and saltfish is the country’s national dish. Fish is an integral part of the country’s cuisine. Coconut milk, onions, potatoes, celery, thyme, and hot scotch bonnet peppers are extensively used to prepare the traditional dishes. Rice and peas, fish broths, vegetable and meat soups, Macaroni pie, stew chicken, etc., are some commonly consumed dishes. Curry is very popular in Saint Lucia. Roti, a flatbread of Indian origin, is served as a popular fast food snack. Roti is wrapped around curried meat, vegetables, or chickpeas to create the snack.

Literature and the Arts in Saint Lucia

The island country provides an incredible backdrop of inspiration to writers, poets, thinkers, and artists. The Nobel-prize winning playwright and poet Derek Walcott hails from this country. Wood carvings of Saint Lucia can be seen decorating the hotels and other buildings of the island. They are also sold in craft markets catering to the needs of the tourists. Joseph Eudovic is one of the country’s best wood sculptors. He has a studio and craft shop in Castries. Sir Durstan St Omer is one of the island’s most renowned artists. He designed the flag of the country and his public murals are found across the island.

Performance Arts in Saint Lucia

Several vibrant folk and oral traditions define the music and dance scene of Saint Lucia with elements derived from African and Western European cultures. Cuatro and banjo are the most important folk instruments used in the country. Waltz, polka, and quadrille are some popular dances. Kwadril is an important Afro-Lucian Creole folk dance. The country also has a nascent popular music industry.

Sport in Saint Lucia

Football and cricket are the two most popular sports played in Saint Lucia. Darren Sammy was the first Saint Lucian cricket player to play for the West Indies Cricket Team. Tennis is also gaining steady popularity in the country. Domestic-level tennis competitions are held regularly. A Tennis Centre was built by the Saint Lucian government in 2011 to encourage the growth of the sports. Volleyball, netball, basketball, and rugby are also played by the Saint Lucians. Swimming is an important outdoor activity in the island country. Professional swimmers from the country have won many OECS Championships in swimming.

Life in the Saint Lucian Society

Although the traditional Saint Lucian society exhibited a patriarchal bias, today both men and women play equal roles in the society. With the educational advancement of Saint Lucian women, more and more of them have entered the urban workforce. In rural areas, women and men both participate in agricultural labor. Some traditional occupations, however, continue to be gender-specific. For example, men still engage in fishing while women work as paid domestic labor.

Marriages in Saint Lucia usually take place between consenting adults. Late marriages are common in the country. Legal marriages are often preceded by co-inhabitation, a visiting relationship that leads to childbirth, or other types of arrangements. Such relationships are more common among the lower class while the middle class usually favor legal marriages which are associated with respectability in the Saint Lucian society.

Households in Saint Lucia range from nuclear families to extended ones with many generations living under one roof. Female-headed households are not uncommon, especially among the lower classes. The males living in such households usually have transient roles.

Grandparents play an important role in bringing up children. Parents often have to work outside of their homes for long hours or migrate to other places in search of work. Children are allowed considerable freedom to explore their environment while growing up. Due to the need to support the family financially, many children are unable to complete their secondary education. However, literacy levels are rising in the country with passing years.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Friday, 29 November 2019

Religious Beliefs In Saint Kitts And Nevis

An Anglican church in Saint Kitts.
Christianity is the religion of the majority in Saint Kitts And Nevis.

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Saint Kitts And Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis, also known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, is a country found in the West Indies. The country falls within the Commonwealth and Queen Elizabeth II is the official Head of State. Saint Kitts and Nevis is the smallest country in North America. Saint Kitts and Nevis gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1984, but the influence of British culture is especially evident in religion.

Religious Demographics

Approximately 44% of the inhabitants of Saint Kitts and Nevis adhere to Protestantism, a sub-sect of Christianity. Anglicans make up 10.9% of the population of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Anglicanism evolved from the Church of England following a period known as the Protestant Revolution. Individuals who identify themselves as Pentecostal make up almost 12% of the total population of this country. Catholics make up 4.7% of the population and other Christian denominations account for 5.6% of the total population.

Atheism, and a non-religious belief system, can be applied to 5.4% of the citizenry and just over 14% of the population have not stated their religion, or it is unknown.

Importance of Religion

There are many Anglican churches in Saint Kitts and Nevis, some of which are well over 100 years old. Religion is a very important area of life on Saint Kitts and Nevis. The people of this nation believe that religion guides socially respectable behavior, provides guidelines, and solidarity in the community.

Religious freedom is considered to be very robust in Saint Kitts and Nevis with no incidents of religious intolerance, violence, or discrimination having been reported in recent history. Every religious community in Saint Kitts and Nevis has the right to build a place of worship, education, and can practice freely without any worry about discrimination or marginalization.

Obeah

As with other countries such as Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis has a small section of the population that practice Obeah. This religious doctrine is often associated with witchcraft and curses.

Religious Beliefs In Saint Kitts And Nevis

Rank Religion Population (%)

1 Protestant 44
2 Unknown 14
3 Pentecostal 12
4 Anglican 10.9
5 Other Christian 5.4
6 Catholic 4.7

By Justin Findlay

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

The Culture Of Saint Kitts And Nevis

Shoreline of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
St. Kitts and Nevis has a rich and vibrant culture.

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Saint Kitts And Nevis

The island country of Saint Kitts and Nevis is the Western Hemisphere’s smallest country in both population and area. The small country, however, has a lively and vibrant culture of its own. Learn more about the cuisine, arts, sports, and life of the Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Ethnicity, Language, and Religion of St. Kitts and Nevis

The island nation hosts a population of 53,094 individuals of which 92.5% of the population is of African descent. Those of mixed descent, European, and East Indian descent comprise 3%, 2.1%, and 1.5% of the population, respectively. English is the official and most spoken language of the country. Christianity is the predominant religion in St. Kitts and Nevis. Protestant Christians account for 74.4% of the population of the islands.

Cuisine of St. Kitts and Nevis

The fertile soil of the country supports the growth of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Seafood and meat are also an important part of the diet. Some of the most popular dishes are pelau and goat water stew. The former is made from chicken, saltfish, vegetables, pig tail, rice, and pigeon peas. The latter stew is prepared by adding goat meat, breadfruit, papaya, and dumplings in a tomato-based stew.

Rum is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country. Flavored rum is also popular. The Cane Spirits Rothschild is the national drink and is made from fresh sugar cane.

In Nevis, a culture of eating together prevails. Cookouts are arranged on Friday and Saturday nights where people feast together, drink, and play games like dominoes.

Literature and the Arts in St. Kitts and Nevis
The islanders of the country have preserved their ancestral history and knowledge through storytelling traditions. Written literature has a relatively recent history in the nation and began with colonial rule and the spread of formal education. Initial works were related to Christianity but later, other types of publications began to emerge.

Among the crafts, pottery from St. Kitts and Nevis is especially notable. Red clay pottery and those fired with colorful glazes and indigenous designs are also well appreciated. Other crafts include wood carving, rug weaving, sculpting, leatherwork, and batiks. The artists of the country have depicted the tropical landscapes and cultural traditions with great precision and beauty.

Performance Arts in the Country

St. Kitts and Nevis have a thriving scene of music and dance. The annual Carnival is a major celebration. It is held during Christmas time. The Masquerade (mas) is an integral part of the Carnival. The mas performers dance through the streets dressed in brightly colored and patterned dresses and elaborate accessories. The dances are a blend of waltzes, jigs, African fertility dances, quadrilles, etc. Stilt walkers, clown troupes, and live music bands also take part in the mas. The St Kitts Music Festival and the week-long Culturama are two other festivals related to music and dance that are held in the country.

Sports in the Country

The influence of British colonial rule is reflected in the country’s choice of the most loved sport, cricket. The game is played both professionally and informally throughout the islands. Horse racing is a popular sport in Nevis. Horse racing events are accompanied by festive celebrations like music and barbecue. Golf, soccer, mountain biking, etc., are other popular sports played on the islands. An annual triathlon and an annual swim event are also held.

Life in St. Kitts and Nevis

Although the traditional mindset of the society exhibited a patriarchal bias, the scenario is gradually changing. Traditionally, men were expected to be the breadwinners while women were assigned the responsibility of managing the household and children. With increased literacy among women, more and more of them are entering the country's skilled workforce. They are also becoming successful entrepreneurs and political figures.

Marriages are mostly based on the consensual choice of the partners. Marriage is regarded as a social responsibility and a sign of adulthood. Newly married couples usually live in a separate home of their own or might stay with either set of parents. Children are taught appropriate skills and social values from an early age.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Popular Music In Dominican Republic

Merengue Festival with typical ensemble, Dominicana 2012.
Dominicans are renowned for their dancing talents–you will spot them spontaneously twirling at the park, on their house veranda, or pretty much anywhere they hear their music. The DR’s sounds and instruments are influenced by West African, Spanish, and European roots. Two principal genres dominate and are synonymous with the Dominican Republic, here and around the world: merengue, and bachata. But there’s also son and a multitude of folkloric dance and music. Wherever you end up in the Dominican Republic, experiencing our music and our rhythms is as easy as stepping outside.

MERENGUE

Merengue is the national music and dance of the Dominican Republic. In 2016, UNESCO proclaimed merengue as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Any Dominican will tell you that merengue is part and parcel of every Dominican’s essence. Its lyrics share the everyday life stories, and its instruments reflect the DR’s triple identity: the güira comes from the Taino–a long metal cylinder with holes, with a brush to run it up and down the cylinder–the tambora or drum from Africa, and the accordion from Spain.

Today’s merengue musicians are world renowned, including Joseíto Mateo, Juan Luis Guerra, Johnny Ventura, Milly Quezada, Wilfrido Vargas, Fernando Villalona, Los Hermanos Rosario, and Eddy Herrera, among others.

BACHATA

Bachata has quickly gained popularity in the DR and abroad. Originating as a string bolero, this slow, sensual music and dance was initially considered the music of the lower classes. It grew mainstream, however, and reached higher levels of sophistication in music and lyrics, thanks to Dominican celebrities like Juan Luis Guerra, and Víctor Víctor.

Among bachata’s earliest creators is José Manuel Calderón from the 1960s. Later came the singers Rafael Encarnación and Luis Segura, who popularized bachata among the masses, followed by Luis Vargas and Anthony Santos, who brought a new language to the rhythm. In the 1990s, the musical group Aventura, led by Brooklyn-born Dominican Romeo Santos, created a bachata fused with other musical styles, modernizing the genre and spreading it internationally.

SON

Son appeared around the northern cities of Puerto Plata and Montecristi between 1870 and 1890. A mix of Latin and African elements–one theory says that it derives from bolero–its creation is attributed to Cuban musician and composer Miguel Matamoros. Popular Dominican son artists include Sonia Cabral, known as the queen of son, El Grupo Maniel, Grupo Bonyé–who perform live every Sunday evening in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo–and Los Hermanos Heredia.

FOLKLORIC MUSIC

Richly influenced by the DR’s African heritage, folkloric music and dance are as alive as any of the DR’s modern beats. These traditional sounds can be experienced in various regions, or during carnival month in February.

In Santo Domingo, the Congos of Villa Mella–proclaimed a UNESCO Masterpiece of Intangible and Oral Heritage of Humanity in 2001–are known for their West African inspired spiritual chants and instruments, which include two double-headed drums, an idiophone, and maracas. The southeast of the country is home to the Afro-British influenced music and dance of the Guloyas and their Cocolo Dance Theater, also a UNESCO protected group, while the southwest is home to the Sarandunga music and dance of Baní, based on African drums, and performed as a religious celebration.

When in Santo Domingo, catch a weekly free performance by the Ministry of Tourism’s Folkloric Ballet every Friday and Saturday evening in the Colonial City, to glimpse the DR’s folkloric rhythms and dance, placed in historical context.

POPULAR MUSIC

Aside from the ever-popular Dominican genres of merengue, bachata, and son, are contemporary sounds you will hear around the DR. These include Dominican jazz, rock, and dembow, a form of Dominican dancehall music, among others.

•culled from www.godominicanrepublic.com

The Religious Composition of Puerto Rico

Built in 1532, San Jose Church in located
in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Roman Catholics make up 69.7% of the population of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a US island territory located in the northern region of the Caribbean Sea. It covers a total area of 3,515 square miles and has a population size of approximately 3.4 million. Residents of Puerto Rico have been considered US citizens for just over 100 years. The racial and ethnic makeup of Puerto Rico is as follows: White (75.8%); African American (12.4%); other races (7.8%); two or more races (3.3%); Indigenous (0.5%); Asian (0.2%); and Pacific Islander (0.1%). The population of Puerto Rico is diverse in terms of racial and ethnic identity, as well as religious composition. Its religious diversity is protected by the national Constitution, which allows citizens and residents to choose and practice the religion of their preference. This article highlights the religious demographics of the population of Puerto Rico.

Roman Catholic

The majority of Puerto Ricans (69.7%) identify as Roman Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center. Catholicism is a Christian denomination and has had a significant influence over the government and society of Puerto Rico since colonial times. In fact, Puerto Rico became the site of the first ecclesiastical province in the Americas in 1504, although it was officially opposed by Ferdinand, then-King of Spain, who wanted the monarchy to maintain the exclusive right to receive church tithes. The Catholic religion prospered in Puerto Rico during the Spanish colonial era due to the special relationship between the church and the crown. Other religions throughout the region were suppressed during this era.

Adherents of Roman Catholicism in Puerto Rico tend to use religious artifacts to practice their religion. These objects may be as large as an altar for saints located inside the home, or as small as a strand of rosary beads used for prayer. Roman Catholicism is so widespread in Puerto Rico that each municipality has at least one Catholic Church.

Protestant

Protestantism is the second largest religious identity in Puerto Rico, and 25.1% of the population claim to follow a Protestant sect. As mentioned, other religions were suppressed under Spanish colonial rule, and Protestantism was no exception. The first Protestant church in Puerto Rico was the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, established in 1872. However, the church was not permitted to ring its bells for approximately 25 years after it was founded. In fact, it was not until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, when Puerto Rico came under US military rule, that religious freedom was established. This helps explain why Protestant denominations are less widespread than Catholicism. After this religious freedom was established, Protestant denominations, including Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, began to spread throughout the region performing missionary work.

Nearly half of individuals who identify as Protestant (48%) claim to be born-again Christians, a term which may refer to Evangelicalism or to the act of baptism as an adult. Some researchers believe that Protestants, specifically Evangelicals, will make up 75% of the population of Puerto Rico in the near future.

Other Christian Denominations

Other Christian denominations can include a number of churches and sects, including Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Defenders of the Faith, and Assemblies of God. According to the Pew Research Center, 1.9% of Puerto Rico's population identify as one of these non-Catholic and non-Protestant Christian sects.

Like Protestantism, these Christian denominations got their start in Puerto Rico after US occupation began. An example of this is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is also known as the Mormon Church. The first Mormon missionaries did not arrive in Puerto Rico until 1964. Prior to that, Mormonism was only practiced by members of the US military stationed in Guajataca. By 1970, the first Mormon congregation and place of worship had been established in Puerto Rico.

Other Religions

At least 1.4% of Puerto Rico's population reports practicing a non-Christian based religion. These other religions include Islam, Judaism, indigenous religions, and African-based religions.

Most Puerto Ricans who report practicing an indigenous religion also identify as members of the Taíno tribe, which was one of the most widespread indigenous groups in the area before the Spanish colonial era. The religion was originally based on the belief in a god who ruled over agriculture, and a goddess who ruled over fertility. As Christian missions spread throughout Puerto Rico, the number of adherents to the Taíno faith declined. Towards the middle of the 19th century, an indigenous identity movement spread throughout rural areas of Puerto Rico, which helped preserve the belief system. Other minority religions practiced on this island have evolved from the beliefs of Africans, who arrived during the slave trade.

Approximately 3,000 Puerto Ricans practice Judaism, making Puerto Rico home to the largest Jewish population in the Caribbean. Additionally, these individuals belong to the three Jewish movements: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. This distinction also makes Puerto Rico unique within the Caribbean region.

More than 5,000 Puerto Ricans practice Islam, and the total is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Puerto Rico has 8 mosques, although most of Islamic population is concentrated in the city of Río Piedras. The introduction of Islam can be traced back to the mid-twentieth century, when a large numbers of Palestinians immigrated to Puerto Rico.

Non-religious

The non-religious demographic includes individuals who identify as agnostic, atheist, not affiliated, and unsure. Approximately 1.9% of the population of Puerto Rico identifies as non-religious, also known as irreligious. The difference between agnostics and atheists is that agnostics believe humans do not have sufficient scientific evidence to support the claim of an all-powerful deity, whereas atheists believe the existence of the deity is impossible. As seen throughout the rest of the world, the rise in urban populations and increased levels of education seems to have a positive correlation with an increase in the reporting of non-religious identities.

The Religious Composition of Puerto Rico

Rank Religion Adherents in National Population

1 Roman Catholic 69.7%
2 Protestant 25.1%
3 Other Christian 1.9%
4 Other 1.4%
5 Irreligious 1.9%

By Amber Pariona

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Why Isn't Puerto Rico a State?

A street in old San Juan, the capital
city of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is not a state but an unincorporated territory in the United States.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the Caribbean Sea. Also known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the island has its capital in San Juan. While Puerto Rican citizens are formally citizens of the United States, Puerto Rico is not identified as a state but as a territory, meaning citizens of Puerto Rico cannot vote in US federal elections and are not represented in congress.

History of Puerto Rico

According to historians and archeologists, the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico were known as the Ortoiroid people who engaged in fishing and hunting. These Ortoiroid people are believed to have arrived on the island before 250 BC. In the 11th century, the Taino culture was the most dominant in the island. The people who practiced the culture named the island as “Boriken” which means “the land of the noble Lord.” Christopher Columbus arrived at its shores in November 1493. Puerto Rico became a Spanish colony in 1520.

Why Isn't Puerto Rico a State?

Before becoming a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico was formerly a territory of Spain. However, during the time of the Spanish-American War, which lasted between April and August of 1898, the United States took an interest in Puerto Rico and invaded the island with the hopes of establishing a sugar market. Encouraged by the promises of economic security and prosperity, many residents of Puerto Rico aided the Americans in the fight against Spanish forces. Following an American victory and the signing of a treaty called the Treaty of Paris, Puerto Rico was handed over to the United States. However, prosperity was not brought to the island of Puerto Rico as the United States had promised. In fact, poverty in Puerto Rico became more rampant at the time of U.S. takeover.

At the time, the United States did not want to incorporate Puerto Rico as a state, citing a series of concerns over the ability for former Spanish territory to fit into the United States (these concerns were dubbed the "Insular Cases"). The "Insular Cases" focused predominantly on the differences between the United States and Puerto Rico in terms of race and language. Puerto Rico did not become a state at this time and it was not until the year 1917, when the United States wanted to maximize troop mobility, that Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens. To this day, residents of Puerto Rico do not enjoy the full privileges awarded to other American citizens. For example, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in any presidential elections, nor can they vote for a senator or congress representative.

Since the early 20th century, there have been efforts to either move towards Puerto Rican independence or statehood. An opinion poll cast in 2017 showed that a small majority of 52% of Puerto Ricans were in favor of statehood. However, results of a referendum would not be enough to grant Puerto Rico statehood, as only the voting members of U.S. Congress have the ability to finalize statehood. As many argue that the reasons that Puerto Rico was never accepted as a state were racially discriminatory, the roadblocks that still remain on the pathway to potential statehood are controversial.

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

The Ethnic Composition Of Puerto Rico

Shoppers on a street in San Juan.
Whites constitute the majority of the population in Puerto Rico.

Data from the recent 2016 Census show that about 76% of Puerto Ricans are from the white ethnic group, translating to more than 2.82 million people. Puerto Ricans of African heritage makes up the second-largest ethnic group in Puerto Rico, accounting for 12.4% of the total population. Mixed race is the third-largest group, with over 122,000 people identifying themselves as of at least two races. The Mixed Race group is followed by the American Indian and Asian ethnic groups, who account for 0.5% and 0.2% of all Puerto Ricans respectively. Native Hawaiians are the smallest ethnic segment in Puerto Rico, as they are only 370 in total, equivalent to 0.1% of the total population. About 290,000 Puerto Ricans identify themselves as being from “other races,” equivalent to about 8% of the total population.

Original Ethnic Group: Taino

The original residents of Puerto Rico were known as Taino Indians who inhabited the islands for centuries. The ethnic group was the only ethnic group in Puerto Rico for hundreds of years, until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. A census conducted in 1765 showed that 49.6% of Puerto Rico inhabitants were of “other races,” which was the dominant ethnic group of the time. The arrival of the early Spanish settlers signaled the decline of the Taino, as they brought with them diseases against which Tainos had no defense, such as influenza, chicken pox, and measles. These diseases virtually wiped out the Tainos in Puerto Rico, leaving the white Spaniards to become Puerto Rico’s new dominant ethnic group.

African Slaves

The black ethnic group or Puerto Ricans of African ancestry originated either from slaves or freed slaves. Since its occupation of Puerto Rico, Spain had brought in African slaves to work in farms in the islands. By the 16th century, African slaves were trooping into the islands in their thousands. A 1791 slave revolt in neighboring Saint Domingue (modern-day Haiti) saw scores of French people settling in Puerto Rico, as they escaped from the turmoil that ensued.

Dominance Of The White Race

Puerto Rico would later become part of the United States, and as such, it was governed using American legislation. One such legislation was the controversial “Naturalization Act,” enacted in 1790 and signed into law by President Washington. The Act stipulated that only white immigrants were permitted to settle in the United States. According to the law, all people of white complexion, including Indians, Jews, and Arabs, were classified under the “white race.” During the period, the white race was dominant in Puerto Rico, with records from the 1830 census showing the race constituted 45% of Puerto Rico’s total population. The controversial act remained in force until 1870, when it was amended and allowed persons of African heritage to obtain American citizenship. Even then, the white race accounted for more than 50% of the population. Jews settled in Puerto Rico in large numbers in the early 20th century during the WWII, as they fled persecution in Nazi-Germany. Jews in Puerto Rico would record an influx in the 1950s as they escaped the Revolution in neighboring Cuba.

By Joseph Kiprop

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

What Are People From Panama Called?

People in Panama City, Panama. 
People from Panama are called Panamanian.

Panama is a country in Central America , bordering both the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. It is bordered to the southeast by Colombia and to the west by Costa Rica. Before the Spanish colonialists arrived, Panama was mainly inhabited by the indigenous people. After breaking away from Spain, the country joined the Republic of Gran Columbia, a union that was formed by Ecuador, Nueva Granada, and Venezuela. Panama eventually seceded from Columbia in 1903. The country has a population of approximately 4 million people, of which almost half the population live in the capital city, Panama City. Although Spanish is the official and dominant language in Panama, the people of Panama are not Spanish but Panamanians. In fact, the Spanish spoken in the country is Panamanian Spanish.

Who Are The Panamanians?

Panamanians are people who identify with the country of Panama, who have legal, residential, or cultural connections with the country.

Panamanian is not a specific ethnic group, race, or language group but a collection of different ethnic groups living in the country. Panama is a multicultural and multilingual country and home to several ethnic and religious group. Therefore, Panamanians equate their nationality to their citizenship or allegiance to the country. The majority of the Panamanian people is a mix of the indigenous people and European ethnic groups. Despite the different religious and cultural groups in Panama, they hold a common culture referred to as mainstream Panamanian culture derived from the early Spanish settlers and the indigenous people.

Panamanian Ethnic Groups

Panama has several ethnic groups including Europeans and Asians. The majority of the residents of Panama are a mix of indigenous and European ancestry. They account for approximately 70% of the country’s population. The Native Panamanians account for 12.3% of the population and mainly inhabit Ngobe-Bugle and Guaymi. While the majority of the native people have retained their traditional languages, some speak Spanish. Some of the indigenous groups include Bokota, Embera, Ngabe, and Teribe.

The Religion Of The Panamanian People

Although there is no official data on the religious affiliation of the Panamanians, Roman Catholic is the most popular religion in the country, accounting for about 75-85% of the population. Evangelical Christians are about 15-25% while Baha’i Faith accounts for 2%. One of the eight Baha’i Houses of Worship is maintained in Panama.

By Sophy Owuor

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Who Are the Nicaraguan People?

Young Nicaraguan girls eating ice cream. 
An overview of the ethnic background and demographics of people in Nicaragua.

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Nicaragua

Nicaraguan people are people from Nicaragua, a Central American nation. The country is flanked by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and is bordered by Honduras and Costa Rica to the northwest and south respectively. Managua is the largest city as well as the country's capital . The population of Nicaragua is 6,167,237 as of the 2012 census. Their official language of the country is Spanish. Below is a brief description of the largest ethnic groups of Nicaragua.

Ethnic Groups of Nicaragua

Mestizo

The term Mestizo is a Spanish word that has traditionally been used by both the Philippines and the Latin Americans to refer to descendants of both the Native Americans and the Caucasoid. The people of the Mestizo are described as a mixture of the Native Americans and the Whites, which make up of approximately 69% of the Nicaraguan population. Majority of these people practice Christianity as their primary religion.

White

The whites are the second largest ethnic group among the people of Nicaragua after the Mestizo. They constitute 24% of the total population of the Nicaraguans. Together with the Mestizo, the whites are mainly living in the western region of Nicaragua. A majority of this ethnic group is composed of the Spanish, Germans, Portuguese, and the French.

Black

The blacks comprise 9% of the people of Nicaragua. They are sometimes referred to as the Afro-Nicaraguan, and they are mostly found in the Caribbean coast. The blacks have been classified among the Creoles who do not consider themselves as an ethnic group among the people of Nicaragua. The Creoles are said to have come up during the colonial period and are described as a mixture of Europeans and non-Europeans. Most of the Creoles are from Jamaica as the British brought them as laborers during the colonial era.

Native American

It is estimated that the Native Americans comprise only 5% of the total population of the Nicaraguans. The Native Americans are the indigenous inhabitants of the Nicaragua country. The pre-Colombian population of Nicaragua’s is made up of various indigenous groups, which form the Native Americans. This group of people existed in this country long before colonization. Besides, they are found in some parts of Nicaragua such as in the Western region where they are referred to as the Pipil-Nicaraos. The Mestizo assimilated the Native Americans in the nineteenth century since the latter was the majority population.

Population of Nicaragua

The population of Nicaragua has undergone considerable changes due to the high number of immigrants. In the nineteenth century, this country received immigrants from Europe who played a significant role in the establishment of sugar plantations and banks. The population of this country has also been affected by emigration. For instance, during the Nicaraguan Revolution, thousands of the people fled the country. The Mitch Hurricane is also said to have made many Nicaraguans to flee this country and be refugees in countries such as the United States.

Who Are the Nicaraguan People?

Rank Ethnic Group Population (%)

1 Mestizo 69
2 White 24
3 Black 9
4 Native American 5

By Vic Lang'at Junior

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

The Culture and Customs of Nicaragua

Handmade masks for sale at a market
in Nicaragua.
From religion and art to music and literature, Nicaragua has many unique cultures and customs.

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Nicaragua

The way of life and behaviors of the people in
Nicaragua help determine the culture of the nation. The country, which is located in Central America, has unique qualities when it comes to things like language, religion, music, art, and literature. Like most cultures around the globe, religion has played a crucial role in shaping and determining the way of life for citizens of Nicaragua. The variety of cultures in the nation have been influenced by different heritages from previous times, especially during the period of colonial Spanish rule.

Music

The modern Nicaraguan music style is a blend of several other styles, namely indigenous, European, and Spanish styles. The musical instruments include the likes of the common marimba and others that are found throughout Central America. The Caribbean coast of the nation has been influenced by African music styles together with the native styles as well. The most common form of dance is known as the “palo de mayo,” which is a particularly loud and energetic style. The North and Central regions mostly have evidence of European heritage with dances such as the “mazurcas” being popular. The Masaya and Pacific regions have also been equally influenced.

Religion

Religion is a crucial component of the Nicaraguan culture. In fact, due to its importance, it has been included in the constitution. Religions have authorities that are responsible for providing guidance and advice on important matters of the state. In the constitution, it has been clearly stated that there is religious freedom and tolerance for everyone. Religious celebrations are common in the country and often characterized by loudness, joy, dancing, large crowds, traditional interpretations and plenty of music. Each city has a religious leader or a saint who is also called the “Santo Patrono”. People have celebrations in honor of the saint who blesses them in exchange for gifts and presents.

Food

The two most common staple foods in Nicaragua are corn and beans. Beans, in particular, are eaten almost every day by most families because meat is not easily obtained. Other common foods include the likes of tortillas, tamales, and the yucca root. Mangos and plantains are the most common fruits. The most common non-alcoholic beverage in Nicaragua is coffee, which is consumed throughout the day. The national drink is known as pinol and it is made out of water and flour. Other drinks include tiste (cacao and ground tortillas) and alcohol.

Language

A large percentage of the population, about 90%, speak Spanish or Nicaraguan Spanish (also known as Nicañol). In general, Creole English and English are languages that are mostly spoken on the Caribbean coast. Other indigenous languages on the coast include Sumo, the Garifuna language, and others.

Ethnic groups such as the Chinese and Palestinian Nicaraguans have preserved their minority ancestral languages to some extent. These languages are spoken alongside Spanish and/or English and they include Chinese, Arabic, Italian, German, and others. There are about three languages which are currently extinct.

By Ferdinand Bada

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The 1995 Soufrière Hills Eruption

The remains of the city of Plymouth,
Montserrat.
In 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat became active. As a result, half of Montserrat became uninhabitable.

In 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat became active. As a result, half of Montserrat became uninhabitable. As the volcano had been dormant for over 3 centuries and had been deemed inactive, this came as a devastating blow to the small island and its inhabitants.

Location And Geography

The Soufriere Hills volcano is situated in the Caribbean Island of Montserrat. The Island is a British Overseas Territory and is a part of the Leeward Islands which is a chain of islands known as the Lower Antilles. The total land area is about 100 square kilometers. The Soufrière Hills Volcano is part of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc and is situated to the south of the island. The capital city was called Plymouth before it was buried in debris after the eruption.

History And Timeline

The early history of the volcano is relatively unknown due to inconsistent record keeping. The first explosive eruption is estimated to have been around 2,500 years ago. The last known eruption was in the 16th century where anywhere between 25 to 65 million cubic meters of lava erupted at Castle Peak. The 1995 eruption was preceded by seismic activity recorded in 1897, 1933 and lastly in 1966. The eruption in 1995 was also preceded by seismic activity but what ensued was mostly unexpected. Earthquake swarms had first been detected in 1992 and again in 1994.

Eruption Of The Soufrière Hills Volcano

The eruption of ash in July 1995 prompted an evacuation of almost 5,000 residents. The volcano grew a new dome on November 1995. By January 1996, the old dome was rapidly buried and between March and September of the same year, the first pyroclastic flows poured down the Tar river valley. This created a new delta and in April the south of the island was evacuated. The capital city of Plymouth was also abandoned. Pyroclastic flows and eruption columns are the main features of this volcano. They occur when the dome collapses or explodes. Tonnes of hot rock, lava and ash explode from the crater in a cloud moving at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour with temperatures reaching over 400°C. The fast moving cloud annihilates and incinerates everything in its way.

Aftermath Of The Eruption

The eruption left the southern two-thirds of the islands completely inhabitable. Pyroclastic flows still pour down the slopes of the volcano. The eruptions continued after the volcano became active. The disaster resulted in the collapse of the tourism and also the local rice processing industries. Unemployment shot up from a manageable 7% to over 50%. Agricultural activities became nearly impossible and living conditions were further worsened by respiratory problems caused by the spewing ash. The aid and relief activities were spearheaded by both British and Montserrat governments.

Conclusion

The 1995 eruption changed the landscape and living conditions of the Montserrat Island completely. It destroyed the economy and forced most residents to abandon the city. As a result of this eruption, several monitoring initiatives were undertaken like the establishment of an extensive seismograph network. The volcano is still active and subject to eruptions from time to time. It remains to be seen how long it will take until the island is habitable again.

By Bilal Aftab Usman

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Largest Ethnic Groups In Mexico

People walk down a busy street in
Mexico.
Mexico is a country with a rich history, many unique traditions, and a diverse multicultural heritage.

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Mexico Demographics

Mexico is a country with a rich history, many unique traditions, and a diverse multicultural heritage. Mexico borders the United States of America to the north. In terms of land area, Mexico is close to one-fifth of the size of the United States. Mexico consists of different ethnic groups. While the government of Mexico does not keep official statistics on ethnicity, the CIA World Factbook estimates that Mestizo Mexicans represent the largest ethnic group. Mestizo Mexicans are those with a mixture of Amerindian and European heritage.

Mestizo (Amerindian/European)

Mexican Mestizo is the largest ethnic group in Mexico, accounting for around 62% of the national population. Mestizo Mexicans are people of blended descent. Their origin is principally the intermarriage between the indigenous people of Mexico and Europeans, furthermore, to a lesser degree, Africans and Asians. Mestizo culture is diverse, and incorporates some cultural elements of African, Asian, Mexican and European culture.

Mostly Amerindian (Native Americans)

Amerindians, or Native Americans, are the second largest ethnic group in Mexico with around a 21% share of the general population. Amerindians are part of the ethnic group in Mexico that follow the roots of the people that existed in what is now Mexico who preceded the Europeans. The history of Amerindian or Native American are thought to originate from migration people from Eurasia to the Americas that occurred via Beringia, an extension of an area which connected the two continents several centuries ago, over what is currently the Bering Strait. The Natives, who lived in Brazil by 1500, are thought to be direct descendants of the earliest migrants who crossed the Bering land bridge in the last ice age.

Other/White (European) Mexicans

Approximately 10% of the population in Mexico is classified as "other". The majority come from European descent. The history of the European Americans is traced to the descendants of the Spanish who conquered the Aztec Empire in the early 16th Century.

Amerindian

Amerindian (or Indigenous) Mexicans lived in Mexico before the arrival of the Europeans. Indigenous peoples of Mexico lived in complex societies dating back thousands of years. Some of the states with the largest Indigenous populations include Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Veracruz.

Cultural Diversity

Mexico has a diverse culture reflecting the diverse origins of its citizens. The unique culture of Mexico is one of the reasons why the country is one of the most-visited in the world.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Mexico

Rank Ethnic Group Population (%)

1 Mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 62.0
2 Mostly Amerindian 21.0
3 Other 10.0
4 Amerindian 7.0

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Friday, 22 November 2019

What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Jamaica?

Street performers in Jamaica.
Jamaica is a country found in the Caribbean and covers an area of 4,240 square miles, making it the Greater Antilles’ third-largest island country.

Jamaica is a country found in the Caribbean and covers an area of 4,240 square miles, making it the Greater Antilles’ third-largest island country and the fourth largest in the whole of the Caribbean. Some of the closest countries to Jamaica include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. The population of Jamaica is about 2.9 million inhabitants, ranking the country as the third-most-populous Anglophone nation in the Americas after the US and Canada. Jamaica is also the fourth most populous nation in the Caribbean. The country's capital city is Kingston, which is also the country’s largest city having 937,700 inhabitants. As a result of the high rate of emigration since the 1960s, most Jamaicans are in the diaspora, particularly in the UK,
Canada, and the US.

Original inhabitants

The Indigenous Arawak and Taino people were the initial inhabitants of Jamaica. Following the 1494 expeditions of Christopher Columbus, the island became a Spanish colony. The natives of the island died in large numbers from diseases, and as a result, the Spanish brought African slaves over to provide labor. The island remained as a colony of Spain until 1655 when the British took over the Island and gave the name Jamaica. As a British colony, Jamaica became one of the leading exporters of sugar, and it was heavily reliant on African slave labor. In 1838, slavery was banned in the British Empire, and the freed blacks chose to engage in subsistence farms in Jamaica as opposed to working in the plantations. From the early 1840s, the British used the Indian and Chinese indentured labor to work on sugar cane plantations. In 1962 Jamaica obtained its independence from the British.

Afro-Jamaican

The afro-Jamaicans or black Jamaicans refer to the citizens of Jamaica who are descendants of black Africans or partially black Africa. The first black Africans were brought to Jamaica in 1513, and they were from the Iberian Peninsula. When Jamaica became a British colony in 1655, many of them fought with the Spanish who gave them their freedom. For many years they resisted the British to maintain their freedom, and some fled to the mountains and they were referred to as the Maroons. The British came with Akan slaves, and some of them ran away to join the Maroons. By 1700, Jamaica had large plantations of sugarcane, and the population consisted of about 7,000 British and about 40,000 enslaved Africans. In 1800 there were about 21,000 British and about 300,000 slaves of African origin.

Indo-Jamaicans

Indo-Jamaicans are the citizens of Jamaica who are descendants of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. The Indo-Jamaicans form the third largest ethnic group in the country after the afro-Jamaicans and African multiracials. They account for 0.8% of the country's population. The African mixed Jamaicans identify themselves as black and therefore, the population of Jamaicans with Indian ancestry is believed to be much higher than what is reported. Between 1845 and 1917, more than 36,000 Indians came from British India to British Jamaica because of the deteriorating socio-economic conditions in India at the time. The majority of Indians originated from the northern part of India in the Hindi belt, particularly in Awadhi and Bhojpuri regions. The minority of Indians also came from the southern part of India. It is estimated that about two-thirds of the laborers who came from India remained on the island of Jamaica.

Chinese Jamaicans

Chinese Jamaicans refer to the citizens of Jamaica of Chinese ancestry, and they include people who trace their lineage to the descendants of migrants from China. There were different waves of migrations to Jamaica, the first one was in the early 19th century, and the second wave was between the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the descendants of the early migrants to Jamaica have since moved to other countries such as the US and Canada. The majority of Chinese Jamaicans are Hakka (Whose ancestral origin are traced to the provincial regions of Guizhou, Hainan, Zhejiang, Hunan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Jiangxi, Fujian, and Guangdong), who had come to Jamaica as laborers and coolies between the mid 19th century and early 20th century. The earliest arrival of Chinese in Jamaica was in 1854 from China, and the second one was the migrants from Panama who had been contracted for plantations in Panama. In 1870, another group of 200 Chinese arrived in Jamaica mainly from other Caribbean islands. The increase of the Chinese population in Jamaica was to replace the black slavery, which had been outlawed in all the British Empire. It involved signing a five-year contract that bound the laborer to a specific planter.

White Jamaicans

White Jamaicans refer to Jamaican citizens who trace their ancestry to Europe, particularly to England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. According to the 2011 census in Jamaica, the white population was 4,365 people, which represented about 0.16% of the total population. In the past, the white Jamaicans accounted for the larger portion of the country's population, particularly in the 17th century. In 1662, immediately after Jamaica became a British colony, the population of the white people was about 3,653, which accounted for 87% of the population in the country. The population of white people would increase to 7,768 in 1673, which accounted for about 45% of the population in the country because the population of black slaves had increased significantly. By 1960 the population of the white ethnic group accounted for 0.77% of the country's population, and by 1970 they accounted for 0.66% of the population, while in 2001 they accounted for 0.18% of the population in Jamaica.

Emigration

Jamaican citizens have migrated to different countries in the world and particularly to the United States, the UK, and Canada. Every year the US grants permanent residence to about 20,000 Jamaicans, and this constitutes some of Jamaicans in the diaspora. Other Jamaicans have migrated to Cuba in the recent past, and the rate of emigration has increased in the country which has also been witnessed in other Caribbean countries such as the Bahamas, Guyana, and Puerto Rico. In 2004, it was estimated that about 2.5 million Jamaicans and Jamaican descendants were living in different countries abroad. The UK alone is home to about 800,000 Jamaicans, making them the largest African Caribbean group in the country. Between the 1950s and 1960s Jamaica experience huge emigration to the UK and during this time the country was still a colony of the British.

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

The Culture And Traditions Of Jamaica

Spicy jerk chicken is an example of
Jamaican cuisine.
Jamaica has a rich, diverse culture.

Present-day Jamaica, an island nation located in the Caribbean Sea, has been influenced over the last few hundred years by its colonial history. As a result of this history, the culture of Jamaica is unique and reflects how people from a number of backgrounds can come together and create a new social identity and culture. In fact, the motto of this country is: “Out of many, One people”. The current population of Jamaica is recorded at around 2.89 million and about one-quarter of these individuals live in Kingston, the national capital. The vast majority of the population here identifies as having African descendancy and interestingly, most individuals here simply identify as being Jamaican. They do not often consider themselves to be African-Jamaicans or European-Jamaicans, an identity practice that is commonly seen in the US and Canada, for example. Other ethnic identities include those of Asian and European descent.
The culture of Jamaica includes: social beliefs and customs, religions and festivals, music and dance, literature and arts, and cuisine. This article takes a closer look at each of these components of the culture of Jamaica.

Social Beliefs And Customs

Many of the social beliefs and customs of Jamaica are largely influenced by the tendency to exist outside of the formal economic sector. Some examples of this can be seen in the informal money savings schemes employed by the people. In one such scheme, known as pardner, a group of individuals agree to pay a fixed amount each week into a communal fund that is managed by one elected community member. Once the time period has come to an end, the sum of money is paid to one of the participants. This practice continues until all of the participants have received one payment. Other commonly held beliefs are spiritual in nature. For example, when a family moves into a new house or finishes building a new house, they often request a priest or other church leader to come to the home and bless each of its rooms. Along the same lines, before starting a construction projects, many crews will pour an offering of rum on the ground for good luck.

Religion And Festivals

The most widely practiced religion in Jamaica is Christianity, primarily the Protestant sect. Approximately two-thirds of the population identifies as a practicing Christian. This country is most commonly associated with Rastafarianism, however, which is considered a part of the Christian religion. Followers of the Rastafari religion believe in traditional Christian teachings, but also believe that the ex-Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, represented the second coming of Jesus. In addition to these two religions, traditional religions continue to be practiced across the country. It is believed that these religions have developed from traditional African beliefs and practices that were introduced to this country by enslaved people. Other minority religions practiced here include: Islam (around 5,000 followers), Buddhism (around 3,000 followers), and Hinduism (around 1,450 followers).

Music And Dance

One of the most widely recognized types of music from Jamaica is known as reggae. Reggae was first influenced by Jazz and Rhythm and Blues music, which was created and made popular by the African American population in the US. This music typically incorporates two guitars as well as drums, keyboards, and vocals. Reggae was made internationally popular by the singer Bob Marley.

Some of the traditional dance styles created in Jamaica include: bruckins, jonkonnu, and daggering. Each of these dances are influenced by a combination of European and African traditions. Bruckinds was created to celebrate the abolition of slavery. Today, it is primarily danced during Emancipation Day celebrations, which take place on August 1st of each year. Jonkonnu, also known as John Canoe and Junkanoo, is a dance that is performed on December 26th and January 1st. It is danced while incorporating colorful dress and face masks. The Daggering dance a modern day dance performed by young people in this country at dance halls and clubs. It is a sensual dance that involves close physical contact between both partners.

Literature And Arts

The residents of Jamaica have kept the tradition of oral storytelling alive in this country; this tradition has been passed down through generations of descendants of African slaves. In addition to this tradition, many Jamaicans have gone on to become successful authors. Jamaican literature can be easily recognized by its use of patois, an English-based creole language. One of the oldest published books from this country is Becka’s Buckra Baby, which is recognized as the foundation of modern Jamaican literature today. Some well-known Jamaican authors include: Nalo Hopkinson, Eliot Bliss, Claude McKay, and Velma Pollard.

In addition to its literature, Jamaica also has a thriving arts scene. Performance theater is one of the most popular arts to take place here. Its history dates back to the late 17th century, when the first theater was built. The love for live theater in this country, created a demand that extended beyond what was available in official theater halls. Performances have been carried out in churches, homes, and public spaces and over time, have developed to incorporate local dances and humor.

Another developing art in Jamaica is its movie industry. This country has been a destination for many US-produced films, but has also recently been working to increase locally produced movies. In fact, in February of every year, Jamaica celebrates The Reggae Film Festival to bring producers and performers together. Some Jamaican-produced movies include: Third World Cop, The Harder They Come, and Rockers.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Jamaica is another important piece of the national culture here. Jamaican food is the result of a mixture of Spanish, British, Indian, and African cooking techniques and recipes. Additionally, some of the dishes from other countries have been adapted to the fruits, vegetables, and spices available on this island. Some of the most commonly used ingredients in Jamaican cuisine include: coconut, jackfruit, allspice, tamarind, and pigeon peas. A widely recognized Jamaican dish is jerk chicken, which has been seasoned by a local marinade or dry rub. The most important meal of the day is eaten in the afternoon and in the evening, most people have a tea and a light snack.

By Amber Pariona

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Religious Beliefs In Honduras

A Christian church in San Pedro Sula,
Honduras.
Christianity is the most popular religion in Honduras.

The Central American nation of Honduras encompasses an area of 112,492 square km. It hosts an estimated population of 9,112,867 people.

Christianity is the religion of the vast majority in Honduras. Catholics comprise 48.7% of the population of Honduras. Protestants account for 41% of the total population. 8% of the population comprises of atheists, agnostics, and those who claim not to adhere to any particular faith. Followers of religions other than Catholicism and Protestantism account for 3% of the country’s population.

The Largest Religion In Honduras

Christianity spread in Honduras during colonial rule in the country by European powers. Since the discovery of Honduras and its colonization by Spain, the colonial forces started baptizing Honduran natives to the Catholic faith. Today, the nation’s Catholic Church is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, and under the Pope’s spiritual leadership. The country has been divided into 8 dioceses and one archdiocese. While most of Honduras came under the influence of Catholicism during the Spanish rule in the country, Protestantism found ground in the British controlled part of the Mosquito Coast, a small part of which is today located in Honduras. The Moravian and the Anglican Church had the greatest influence in this area.

Ancient Religion In Honduras

The ancient Maya religion was widely practiced in Honduras between the 4th and the 7th century AD. The religion was also practiced in some other parts of Central and South America. It was based on polytheistic beliefs and involved a large number of rituals including occasional animal and possibly even human sacrifices. Currently, however, a syncretic form of the religion is practiced where Christian thoughts and beliefs take precedence.

Freedom Of Religion In Honduras

The Constitution of the country provides for the freedom of religion. Everyone is free to practice a religion of their choice and this right of the people is protected by law.

Religious Beliefs In Honduras

Rank Religion Population (%)

1 Catholicism 48.7
2 Protestantism 41
3 Atheism/Agnosticism/No Religion 8
4 Other 3

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Biggest Cities In Honduras

A view of downtown Tegucigalpa.
Located in the south-central highlands of Honduras, Tegucigalpa is both the capital and most populous city of Honduras.

Honduras

Honduras is located in the middle of Central America. It has coastlines along both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Additionally, Honduras shares borders with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. This country covers an area of 43,278 square miles and has a population of approximately 8.249 million. Of these individuals, approximately 36.8% are under the age of 15, 58.9% are between 15 and 65, and 4.3% are over the age of 65. The population of Honduras is spread throughout the country with many people living in urban areas. This article takes a look at some of the most populated cities in this nation.

The 3 Biggest Cities In Honduras

Tegucigalpa

The most populated city in Honduras is Tegucigalpa, which has a population size of 1,126,534. This city is both the capital of the country and of the Francisco Morazán department where it is located. Tegucigalpa lies in the southern highland region on one side of the Choluteca River. On the other side of the river is its sister city Comayaguela.

Because of its political importance, Tegucigalpa hosts 25 foreign embassies and 16 consulates. It is also home to the state-owned energy and telecommunications companies and the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

The economy of this city contributes 19.3% of the national gross domestic product (GDP). Its economy is based on the following sectors: commerce (42.86% of the economy), manufacturing (16.13%), hospitality (14.43%), banking and real estate (10.12%), social and personal services (8.94%), health services (3.9%), and others (3.6%). Of the businesses in Tegucigalpa, 73.2% are micro-enterprises whereas large companies make up only .28%.

San Pedro Sula

San Pedro Sula is the second most populated city in Honduras with a population of 638,259. The entire metropolitan area, however, has approximately 1.44 million residents. This city is the capital of the Cortés Department. It is located in the northwestern region of the country in the Sula Valley and only 62 miles south of the Caribbean Sea.

San Pedro Sula was founded in 1590 and had a population size of around 800 people. Over the next 300 years, this grew to around 10,000. The cultivation and exportation of bananas began to develop during the 19th century, attracting the attention of many new residents. Not only did the banana industry foster rapid growth in San Pedro Sula but also led to the construction of the Interoceanic Railroad. This railroad connected the city to Puerto Cortés on the coast.

The economy of this city continues to rely somewhat on banana production, although it was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch of 1998. The hurricane devastated Honduras, particularly along the Atlantic coastline and today, the banana industry of San Pedro Sula continues to work toward recovery. Other important industries of this city include commercial exports and financial services. The economy here contributes approximately 66% of the national GDP.

Choloma

The third most populated city of Honduras is Choloma, which has a population size of 222,828. Choloma is located in the Cortés department, between San Pedro Sula and Puerto Cortés. This city lies along the banks of the Balaliam River (also known as the Choloma River). This was once the site of an indigenous community. The city as it is known today was founded in 1804, although it was not named Choloma until around 1933.

Because of its close proximity to San Pedro Sula, the railway, and the port city, Choloma has become an important manufacturing center.
Other large cities in Honduras can be found in the chart below.

Environmental Threats Due To Urbanization

Most of the cities in Honduras were founded during Spanish colonial times. Therefore, these cities have old infrastructure and were not planned to sustain significant population growth. Because the population has grown faster than the municipalities can keep up with, the largest cities have problems with increasing marginal neighborhoods and growing poverty. These unplanned neighborhoods often lack proper water and sewage systems, which results in pollution of surrounding waterways, soil, and groundwater. Additionally, the road infrastructure is not sufficient for the growing amount of traffic. This leads to traffic congestion which, in turn, results in increased air pollution. Some of the local governments of these cities are working with the federal government to improve the existing infrastructure and reduce the number of people living in poverty.

Which Are The Biggest Cities In Honduras?

Rank City/Town Population

1 Tegucigalpa 1,126,534
2 San Pedro Sula 638,259
3 Choloma 222,828
4 La Ceiba 174,006
5 El Progreso 131,125
6 Choluteca 93,598
7 Comayagua 75,281
8 Puerto Cortés 60,751
9 La Lima 59,030
10 Danlí 56,968
11 Siquatepeque 55,490
12 Catacamas 44,198
13 Juticalpa 44,183
14 Tocoa 43,217
15 Villanueva 41,956
16 Tela 35,178
17 Olanchito 35,110
18 Santa Rosa de Copán 34,390
19 San Lorenzo 27,842
20 Cofradía 18,011

By Amber Pariona

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

The Culture Of Honduras

Honduras Independence Day parade
in La Lima, Honduras.
The Central American country of Honduras has a rich and diverse culture that is an amalgamation of cultures of its different ethnic groups.

The Central American country of Honduras has a rich and diverse culture that is an amalgamation of cultures of its different ethnic groups.

6. Ethnicity, Language, and Religion in Honduras

Honduras is home to a population of 9,182,766 individuals. Mestizos (those of mixed European and Amerindian descent) make up 90% of the country’s population. Amerindians, blacks, and whites constitute the rest of the population. Spanish is the official language of Honduras. A variety of Amerindian dialects are spoken by the indigenous population. Christianity is the religion of the majority. Roman Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians account for 46% and 41% of the population, respectively. 9% of the population do not adhere to any religion.

5. Honduran Cuisine

The cuisine of Honduras is a fusion of Lenca cuisine, the country’s indigenous cuisine, and several foreign cuisines like Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisines. Coconut milk and coconut are widely used Honduran dishes. Some of the traditional dishes of the country are baleada (flour tortilla filled with mashed fried red beans), tamales, fried fish, carne asada (sliced and grilled beef dish), chicken with corn and rice, etc. Seafood and meats prepared with coconut milk are very popular in the coastal areas. The Hondurans also consumed a variety of soups like bean soup, seafood and beef soups, etc. Many tropical fruits like pineapple, plum, passion fruits, papaya, etc., are consumed in the country. Softs drinks are the most common beverages.

4. Literature and the Arts in Honduras

Like most other countries in the region, Honduras has a long tradition of storytelling. Fairy tales, folktales, mythology, etc., have been transmitted orally through generations of indigenous Hondurans. The El Cadejo and La Llorona are two of the most famous legends from Honduras. There was hardly any literature in the published form prior to the arrival of the Europeans. During Spanish colonial rule, the introduction of formal education gave birth to the earliest written literary works. They were mostly in Spanish and of religious nature. In the years that followed, literature in Honduras was significantly influenced by the sociopolitical changes in the Honduran society. A large section of the literary works also went unpublished due to volatile political conditions prevailing in the country. Today, Honduran writers and poets produce works in both Spanish and indigenous languages that cover a variety of genres.
Honduran also has a rich heritage of art and craft. The country has produced many well-known painters like López Rodezno who founded the National School of Fine Arts in Comayagüela. Many artists of the country have painted the Rain of Fishes, a yearly phenomenon where blind fish from underground caves rain down on land following a summer thunderstorm. Paintings of Honduran village street scenes by painters of the Honduran school of impressionist painting are also quite famous. Newspaper cartoons are a popular medium of exhibiting criticism. Dario Banegas is one of the country’s most renowned cartoonists.

3. Performance Arts in Honduras

Honduras has a varied music scene. Punta is the most popular dance and music style in the country. Other styles like salsa, reggae, merengue, and reggaeton are also widely heard. Mexican rancheras is favored in the interior rural part of Honduras. Modern Honduran music is popular in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital city. Folk music shows are encouraged by the Honduran government. This type of music is played using marimba, guitar, and other instruments.

Carnivals, parades, and fairs are held throughout Honduras to celebrate religious festivals and other special events. La Ceiba is the most popular carnival in the country and involves week-long celebrations with music, special food, and exhibitions.

2. Sports in Honduras

Football, rugby, basketball, cycling, volleyball, etc., are some of the most popular sports of Honduras. Football is regarded as a national sport. The country’s national football team has performed exceptionally well in 1982, 2010, and 2014 FIFA World Cups. The team has also competed in the Olympic Games, UNCAF Nations Cup, Copa America, and other international football events. Some of the sports with smaller followings in Honduras are handball, softball, and athletics.

1. Life in the Honduran Society

Both men and women play prominent roles in Honduran society and participate in the workforce. Many women work outside the home and hold important positions in their areas of employment. Marriages in Honduras are usually based on romantic relationships. Household size ranges from nuclear to extended ones. Often, married couples live with their parents until they are able to finance a home of their own. Divorce and remarriage are only slightly stigmatized. Monogamy is the norm.
Hondurans greet each other extensively. They shake hands, kiss on the cheeks, or hug each other depending on the type of person they are meeting. They look strangers in the eye and smile. They also stand or sit close by while talking. Hondurans love to interact with friends and family and also make new friends out of strangers.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Religious Beliefs In Haiti

The majority of Haitians identify as Roman Catholic, and often concurrently practice Vodou and folk religions as well.

Haiti has been largely a Christian country for several hundred years after the Spanish, and then the French, colonized the Caribbean island nation before it became a sovereign state. Roman Catholicism is by far the largest Christian denomination in the country. Roman Catholics are estimated to be 80% of the Haitian population. There is also the influence of the West African religious practices which was brought by the Slaves and some of the indigenous American practices, which is similar to the Cuban Santeria. The Haitian society to some extent is made up of a multi-religious community, and the government does not interfere with such organizations.

Roman Catholic Christianity and Catholic-Voodoo Syncretism

Roman Catholics in Haiti constitute around 80% of the entire national population. The religion is highly modified and mixed up with the traditional voodoo which is made up of the religious traditions from the West Africa and some native beliefs. The impact of the French in their new colonies is directly related to the prevalence of Catholicism in Haiti as it was their colonial master. The constitution had Catholic as the official state religion until 1986 when it was removed. Religious liberty in the country has allowed other religions to flourish.The Catholic Church has had an uneasy relationship with the voodoo practice over its lifetime in the country. At the end of the American occupation in the 1930s, the small number of priests available ministered mainly to the urban elite where voodoo is rare. Catholic priests later launched campaigns targeted at destroying the religion. Later, some elements of the folk religion got into the liturgy. The constitution put in place in 1987 allowed for the practice of the faith. The church has therefore allowed for particular aspects of these native religions. The impact and power of the Pope were evident in 1983 when he criticized the government during his visit. The leader Mr. Jean Claude Duvalier got deposed about three years later. To ensure efficient administration of the church affairs, Haiti is divided into ten dioceses and two archdioceses.

Protestant Christianity

The Protestants comprise around 16% of the total Haitian population, and the number of adherents to the faith has been increasing significantly over recent years. The Protestants are mainly Baptists, Pentecostals, Adventists, and other smaller groups. Unlike the Catholics, they completely denounce the practice of voodoo as a vice. Other statistics to point out that Protestants make up more than a third of the country’s population.

Islam

The Muslims on the island are estimated to number 3,000, which translates to 0.04% of the population of Haiti. The Muslim leaders state that the number is closer to 5,000, and that many of them are unaccounted for in the taking of national censuses. The Muslims in the country trace their origin to the slave trade where most of them first came into the country as slaves. When slavery ended, they were left in the country as free citizens.

Judaism

There are no official records indicating the numbers of Haitian Jews among the Haitian population. They started migrating into the country during the first days of European colonial power. A significant number also came into the country during the 1940s fleeing persecution from Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Impact of Religion in Haiti

The overwhelming majority of Haitian citizens identify with at least some sort of religious group. They believe in the presence of a greater power who determines the fates of all men. To seek that power's blessings, they offer sacrifices, engage in religious festivals, and perform ceremonies, among other activities.

Religious Beliefs In Haiti

Rank Belief System Share of Population in Haiti

1 Roman Catholic Christianity (including Catholic-Vodou Syncretism) 80%
2 Protestant Christianity 16%
3 Atheism or Agnosticism 1%
Baha'i Faith, Islam, Judaism, Eastern Religions, and Other Beliefs 3%

By Joyce Chepkemoi

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Biggest Cities In Haiti

Port-au-Prince, the biggest city in Haiti.
The capital city of Port-au-Prince's metro area population of 2.6 million accounts for 1 in every 4 Haitians.

Most of the cities in Haiti were established during the French colonial era or just after independence. These towns play important economic, administrative, historical, and cultural functions in the country due to their significance both in the early times and the modern times. The cities have experienced slow growth due to political instability, natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes and disease outbreaks. The poor administrative policies by the government have also contributed to the slow and inconsistent growth of these towns as most of the populations remain unemployed.

Biggest Cities In Haiti

Port-au-Prince

Port-au-Prince is the most populous and capital city of Haiti. The town was established in 1749. The city served as a colonial seat for the French in 1770. Spanish had established a protectorate in the town during the 16th century, but they later abandoned the town in 1606 leaving it in poverty. The town was an important trading point for Dutch merchants as they acquired leather from game animals. Port-au-Prince has a population of 987,310. The city serves as an important commercial center making it the largest economic center in Haiti and the seat of the national government. The city also serves important cultural functions due to the presence of the National Museum. Problems such as unemployment and lack of housing leading to slums are familiar to the people of Port-au-Prince. Some buildings in the city were destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.

Carrefour

Carrefour is a commune within the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and the second most populous city in Haiti with a population of 511,345. The city served as an important tourist stop over due to the beautiful natural landscape as well as the warm and welcoming natives. Currently, the city serves as a residential area for most of the people working in Port-au-Prince. The city is plagued with poverty as most of the residents are low-income earners as well as political instability. The underdeveloped city was also damaged by the 2010 earthquake.

Delmas

Delmas is also a commune within Port-au-Prince and the third most populous city in Haiti with a population of 395,260. Delmas is the Haiti’s richest county due to its increasing tax revenues. Delmas is an important transport center with two major roadways traversing it. The roads include AutoRoute de Delmas and Boulevard de Louverture. Other transport facilities include the Toussaint Louverture International Airport. Like other cities and towns in Haiti, Delmas was affected by the 2010 earthquake leaving several damages to buildings and deaths.

Pétionville

Pétionville, a commune of Port-au-Prince, is the fourth most populous city in Haiti with 376,834 people. The city was founded in 1831. The city serves as an important tourist destination in Haiti as well as a residential and commercial center with big businesses established by wealthy citizens, foreign investors, and diplomats. The city experiences problems of poor administration and formation of slums. The town is an important entertainment and recreational center with nightclubs, restaurants, salons, and gyms. The city was affected by the 2010 earthquake leading to the destruction of the hospital.

Problems Facing Haitian Cities

The cities of Haiti including Gonaives, Port-de-Paix, Cite-Haïtien, Saint-Marc, and Croix-des-Bouquets are confronted with a common problem of poverty due to underemployment and unemployment leading to the development of slums, poor access to social amenities and political instability.

Rank Biggest Cities in Haiti City Proper Population

1 Port-au-Prince 987,310
2 Carrefour 511,345
3 Delmas 395,260
4 Pétionville 376,834
5 Gonaïves 324,043
6 Port-de-Paix 306,217
7 Cité Soleil 265,072
8 Cap-Haïtien 249,541
9 Saint-Marc 242,485
10 Croix-des-Bouquets 227,012

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from www.worldatas.com

The Culture Of Haiti

Sans Souci Palace in Milot, Haiti.
Haiti has a rich and distinct culture which is a blend of many cultures with significant French, African, Spanish, and indigenous Taíno influences.

The Caribbean nation of Haiti is located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago. The country has a rich and distinct culture which is a blend of several cultures with significant French, African, Spanish, and indigenous Taíno influences.

Ethnicity, Language, And Religion

Haiti is home to a population of around 10,788,440 individuals. French and Creole are the official languages of Haiti. Roman Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians account for 54.7% and 28.5% of Haiti’s population, respectively. A significant section of Haitians also adheres to indigenous religious beliefs. 10.2% of the population do not follow any religion.

Cuisine

Haitian cuisine is a Creole cuisine that is a blend of the different culinary styles contributed by the many cultures inhabiting the country like French, Spanish, Arabic, African, and indigenous Taíno. The cuisine is characterized by simple dishes with a dash of bold and spicy flavors. Potatoes, beans, corn, rice, and plantains are the staples of the diet. Tropical fruits are also very popular in Haiti. The climate of the country supports the cultivation of many fruits. Rice with red kidney beans topped with tomatoes, onions, and red snapper, is a common dish. It is called Riz National. The dish is usually accompanied by bouillon, a soup with various potatoes, tomatoes, meats, and spices. Chicken, goat meat, and beef are frequently eaten. Tchaka is a hearty stew of Haitian cuisine that consists of squash, meat, and hominy beans. Cornmeal porridge called mais moulin, a thick vegetable stew called Légume Haïtien, Boulette or seasoned bread-bounded meatballs, etc., are other dishes eaten in Haiti.

Beer and rum are the most common alcoholic beverages. Clairin (a distilled spirit prepared from cane sugar) and Crémas (a creamy and sweet alcoholic beverage) are some local specialties.

A variety of fruit juices, non-alcoholic malt beverages, soft drinks, milkshakes, Haitian coffee, etc., are also popular in Haiti.

Literature And The Arts

Haiti’s literature has a relatively short history beginning with the independence movement in the country against French colonial rule in the late 18th century. During this time, many literary works were produced by Haitian writers focussing on nationalism and the movement for independence. Since then, Haitian literature has been inspired by the various phases of turmoil interspersed with periods of peace associated with the post-independence history of the country. As most of the Haitian writers are from the intellectual elite classes who are imbued with French culture, their writings also reflect significant French influences.

Haitian art features bright colors, sly humor, and innovative thoughts. The beauty of the country’s landscapes and the cultural aspects of a Haitian’s life are most commonly portrayed on canvas. Folk religious practices and rituals, wild animals, etc., also serve as themes for Haitian art and reminds of the African origin of much of its population.

Often public vehicles and wood boats in the country are painted with bright colors and interesting themes. The country’s artisans also produce a variety of wood, metal, and stone handicrafts that often cater to the tourist markets in the Caribbean region.

Performance Arts

Like cuisine, literature, and arts, the music and dance scene of Haiti also draws inspirations from the cultures of the various settlers in the country. Over a period of centuries, the music of the country has greatly evolved to give rise to unique genres and styles of music like rara parading music, mini-jazz rock bands, twoubadou ballads, hip hop kreyòl, etc. One of the most popular of these new musical styles is compas and méringue.

Like most other Caribbean islanders, Haitians love to sing and dance. The people dance on the streets during festivals like the Carnival and rara celebrations. Dancing during informal parties, church socials, and evening-outs with friends is very common. A type of religious dance inspired by African Vodou practices is performed by Haitians holding on to their ancestral beliefs. Social dance music is popular in the country. European dance forms like waltz, polka, quadrille, etc., are also performed by Haitians.

Sports

Football is Haiti’s most popular sport. It is played both professionally and informally throughout the nation. Haiti has its own national football team as well as hundreds of small football clubs at the local level. Football is a great source of entertainment for people. Men in the country socialize over a game of football. Stade Sylvio Cator in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince is used to play the game. It has a current capacity of seating 30,000 spectators. Basketball is also growing in popularity in Haiti. Tennis, swimming, weightlifting, fencing, and athletics are some of the other sports played in the nation.

Life In Society
In rural areas, both genders participate in agricultural work. The urban workforce, however, has a very small proportion of women. Many professions like that of construction workers, mechanics, general laborers, etc., have only men as employees. Even the white-collar jobs in the country are mostly held by men. In recent years, the number of women in the health and academic sector has increased to some extent. While women in Haiti’s elite urban society enjoy a good life, women belonging to the impoverished urban majority class are often vulnerable to abuse. The high unemployment rates make them susceptible to exploitation by their employees, partners, or other members of society. In rural areas, many women act as marketers and travel between urban and rural areas to sell their local produce. Such women usually have a certain degree of control over the financial affairs of their family.

Most people belonging to the elite and middle classes of the Haitian society marry. Marriage is not common among the lower classes.

 Cohabitation without marriage is more popular and is recognized by both society and law. Often, couples have children outside of marriage or marry when their children grow old. About 10% of Haitian men have more than one wife and maintain separate families. Such a practice is not legal but is often sanctioned by the community.
Households are generally nuclear in nature. While men are generally the owners of the houses, women act like the central figure that nurtures and cares for the family residing in the home.

While young, children are pampered a lot. However, in the rural areas, children are trained to assist their parents in their work at an early age. In the urban areas, children of the elite and middle classes are steered towards higher education so that they find respectable jobs in society. The urban poor, however, often have no choice but to engage their children in paid work. Fosterage is a system where some children are sent to live with other families to perform domestic chores for the family with the expectation that they will be well-fed and if fortunate enough, receive education sponsored by the foster family.

The Haitians are very expressive people and display emotions very openly. They greet each other extensively and it is considered rude to not do so. They also love to socialize and gossip with friends and family. Same-sex friends hold hands or hug each other frequently to display their friendship. The people of Haiti are also known to be good hosts who are very helpful to strangers visiting their country.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from www.worldatlas.com
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