Roman Catholicism is by far the dominant
religion in Venezuela, and has been adopted by most
indigenous people - only those living in isolated regions
still practice their ancient tribal beliefs. The Protestant
church has a significant presence, and recently has
been gaining some ground, attracting adherents from
the Catholic Church. An unusual and obscure pantheistic
sect, known as the Cult of María Lionza, exists
in the northwest and combines pre-Hispanic indigenous
creeds, African voodoo and Christian religious practices.
Spanish is spoken by almost all Venezuelans, though
some 25 indigenous tongues are spoken by remote tribes.
English is spoken by some people in urban centers.
Visual arts and handicrafts are popular in Venezuela,
but the country's most distinctive cultural outlet is
probably its music, which is an eclectic blend of European,
African and indigenous rhythms. Theater is growing in
popularity, and there is an active literary scene, especially
among the younger generation.
Venezuelan snacks and dishes (referred to as comida
criolla) consist mainly of pancakes, chicken, pork,
beef, soups and stews. Travelers should look out for
restaurants that serve menú del día, a
very cheap set meal consisting of soup and a main course.
Local specialities include empanadas (deep-fried cornmeal
turnovers with fillings of ground meat, cheese, beans
or baby shark) and pabellón criollo (Venezuela's
national dish, which consists of shredded beef, rice,
black beans, cheese and fried plantain).