A majority of 95% of the population are Roman Catholic, as it assumed a pivotal role in Ecuador virtually at the onset of the Spanish conquest. In spite of this the Ecuadorians Christian beliefs are mixed with ancient indigenous customs. Some either did not practice their religion or pursued a syncretistic version.
A famous city in central Ecuador, Ambato, is referred to as the "City of the three Juanes". The great novelist and essayist Juan Montalvo, author of the national anthem of Ecuador Juan Leon Mera and another novelist and essayist Juan Benigo Vela all shared the same place of birth. Another famous writer whose works inspired the fight for freedom from Spain in Ecuador is Eugenio Espejo.
Music plays an important role in the art and culture of Ecuador with little differences between Coast and Highlands. Pan pipes, flutes of bamboo, violins, drums and charangos are generally played for different occasion. The Ecuadorians have music for all events, be it in the parties, public, old bars or in a somber mood. With its rich musical traditions dating back to the times of the Spanish conquest, the music is always great for listening and attracts people like anything.
The art of Ecuador, especially paintings plays an important role in the life of the people. The artists of the 'Tigua' region are legendary for their colorful paintings depicting village life high in the mountains of rural Ecuador. Mostly done on sheep hide, the paintings depict the customs, festivals, myths and dreams of indigenous people. Although they have acquired many modern ways, their paintings still reflect the customs of the ancient heritage. Some world renowned master painters of Ecuador include Oswaldo Guayasamin, Manuel Rendon, Camilo Egas etc.
The food in Ecuador is very diverse varying with altitude and region and so there is no one food that is especially Ecuadorian. The main meal of the day of the Ecuadorian is the 'lunch', unlike Western cultures where more preference is given to the dinner. Sometimes the only main dish in their diet is the lunch. For example, the people living in the mountainous regions prefer pork, chicken, meat or 'cuy', i.e. guinea pig with cereals, potatoes and rice and the people from the coast prefer fish, beans and plantains, an un-ripened banana like fruit.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Ecuador and also in almost all South American countries. The most watched sports events in the country Ecuador qualified for the final rounds of both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups and finished ahead of Poland and Costa Rica to come second to Germany in the 2006 World Cup. Besides soccer volleyball, tennis and bullfighting is also played. It's a legacy of the Spanish colonization held during the festive season. Other forms of popular entertainment found in Ecuador's art and culture are a variety of card games, marbles, hopscotch and skipping ropes.
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