. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador
; Santa Ana
and San Miguel
are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America. El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the countries of Guatemala
to the north and Honduras
to the east. Its eastern-most region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca
, opposite Nicaragua
1821 Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica jointly declare independence from Spain.
1851 Honduras and El Salvador, during their invasion of Guatemala, are repelled at the Battle of La Arada.
1895 El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua form the Greater Republic of Central America.
1953 Ernesto "Che" Guevara sets out on a trip through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.
1969 Football War: after Honduras loses a soccer match against El Salvador, riots break out in Honduras against Salvadoran migrant workers.
1969 A cease fire is announced between Honduras and El Salvador, 6 days after the beginning of the "Football War"
1980 Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador gives his famous speech appealing to men of the El Salvadoran armed forces to stop killing the Salvadorans.
1980 El Salvador and Honduras sign a peace treaty to put the border dispute fought over in 1969's Football War before the International Court of Justice.
1980 Four U.S. nuns and churchwomen, Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel, are murdered by a death squad in El Salvador.
1981 El Mozote massacre: Armed forces in El Salvador kill an estimated 900 civilians in an anti-guerrilla campaign during the Salvadoran Civil War.
. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador
; Santa Ana
and San Miguel
are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America. El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the countries of Guatemala
to the north and Honduras
to the east. Its eastern-most region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca
, opposite Nicaragua
. As of 2009, El Salvador had a population of approximately 5,744,113 people, composed predominantly of Mestizo
s (mixed biracials of Native American
/European ancestry) and White
was the official currency of El Salvador from 1892 to 2001, when it adopted the U.S. Dollar. In 2010 El Salvador ranked in the top 10 among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and in the top 3 in Central America (behind Costa Rica and Panama); because of this, the country is currently undergoing rapid industrialization.
El Salvador was explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century and remained a territory of Spain until 1821, when it joined Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in a union named the Federal Republic of Central America
. When this union dissolved in 1841, El Salvador maintained its own government until it joined Honduras and Nicaragua in 1896 to form the Greater Republic of Central America, which later dissolved in 1898. El Salvador's origins of human civilization date back to the Pipil people of Cuzcatlán, which means The Place of Precious Diamonds and Jewels. The people of El Salvador are variably referred to as Salvadoran or Salvadorian, while the term Cuzcatleco is commonly used to identify someone of Salvadoran heritage.
Pre-ColumbianIn pre-Columbian times the territory was inhabited by various Native American peoples, including the Pipil, a Nahuatl-speaking population that occupied the central and western regions of the territory, and the Lenca, who settled in the east of the country. The larger domain until the Spanish conquest of the kingdom was Cuzcatlán. The Mayan civilization which inhabited El Salvador has left ruins such as those at Tazumal, Joya De Ceren, San Andres, Casa Blanca, Cihuatan, and Chalchuapa.
DiscoveryIn 1520 the indigenous population of the territory had been reduced by 80% due to the smallpox epidemic that affected the Mesoamerican area. The Spanish Admiral Andrés Niño led an expedition to Central America and disembarked on Meanguera island, which he named Petronila, in the Gulf of Fonseca
, on May 31, 1522. Thereafter he discovered Jiquilisco Bay
on the mouth of Lempa River
. This was the first known visit by Spaniards to what is now Salvadoran territory.
Conquest of CuzcatlánThe Spanish Conquistadors led by Pedro de Quintanilla and his brother Gonzalo arrived between 1524 and 1525 from the area comprising the present Republic of Guatemala, after participating in the conquest of Mexico and crossing the Rio Paz (Peace River) into what is now the Republic of El Salvador. The Pipil had no treasure but held land with rich and fertile soil, good for farming. The Spaniards were disappointed not to find gold or jewels in El Salvador as they had in other places like Guatemala or Mexico, but recognized the richness of the verdant land's volcanic soil.
Pedro de Alvarado led the first incursion by Spanish forces to extend their dominion to the nation of Cuzcatlán (El Salvador), in June 1524. On June 8, 1524, the conquerors arrived in the neighborhood of Acajutla
at a village called Acaxual. There, according to records,
a battle ensued between the opposing armies, with the Pipils wearing cotton armor (of three fingers' thickness according to Alvarado) and carrying long lances. This circumstance would be crucial in the progression of the battle. Alvarado approached the Pipil lines with his archers' showers of crossbow arrows, but the natives did not retreat. The conquistador noticed the proximity of a nearby hill and knew that it could be a convenient hiding place for his opponents. Alvarado pretended that his army had given up the battle and had retreated. The Pipils then suddenly rushed the invaders giving Alvarado an opportunity to inflict massive losses. The Pipils that fell to the ground could not get back on their feet, hindered by the weight of their cotton armor, which enabled the Spanish to slaughter them.
In the words of Alvarado: "...the destruction was so great that in just a short time there were none which were left alive...". However, Alvarado's army were not completely unscathed. In the battle Alvarado himself was struck by a sling shot to his thigh which fractured his femur bone. According to local tradition the stone that hit the conquistador was hurled by a Pipil "Tatoni" (a prince), called Atonal. The resultant infection lasted about eight months and left Alvarado partially crippled. In spite of this wound, he continued the conquest campaign with relish.
The Spanish efforts were firmly resisted by the indigenous people, including the Pipil and their Mayan speaking neighbors. Despite Alvarado's initial success in the Battle of Acajutla
, the people of Cuzcatlán, who according to tradition were led by a warlord called Atlacatl
, defeated the Spaniards and forced them to withdraw to Guatemala. There Pedro de Alvarado was again wounded, this time on his left thigh, which left him handicapped for the rest of his life. He abandoned the war and appointed his brother, Gonzalo de Alvarado
, to continue the task. Two subsequent expeditions were required (the first in 1525, followed by a smaller group in 1528) to bring the Pipil under Spanish control. In 1525 the conquest of Cuzcatlán was completed and the city of San Salvador
was established. They faced much resistance from the Pipils and were not able to reach eastern El Salvador, the area of the Lencas.
Finally, with reinforcements, the Spanish established the garrison town of San Miguel
, headed by Luis de Moscoso, explorer and conquistador, in 1526. A Maya-Lenca woman, crown Princess Antu Silan Ulap I, daughter of Asisilcan Nachan I and Lady Omomatku, Monarch of the Lencas, organized resistance to the domination of the gold- and profit-hungry Conquistadors. The Lenca kingdom was alarmed by de Moscoso's invasion, and Antu Silan dealt with it by going from village to village, uniting all the Lenca towns in present day El Salvador and Honduras against the Spaniards. Through surprise attacks and their overwhelming numbers they were able to drive the Spanish out of San Miguel and destroy the garrison.
For ten years, the Lencas prevented the Spanish from building a permanent settlement. Then the Spanish returned with more soldiers, including about 2,000 forced conscripts from indigenous communities in Mexico and Guatemala. They pursued the Lenca leaders further up into the mountains of Intibucá. Antu Silan Ulap continued leading the united forces until, late in pregnancy, she slipped out of the conflicted area to a safe haven, Tihuilotal, to give birth to twins, a girl and a boy. Their father was Prince Salaiki Kanul from Sesori. The daughter became Atonim Silan I – she and her twin and another brother lived in the mountains near the lake Olomega and Maquigue – in this way they escaped the Spanish and their allies who were hunting them. Tihuilotal is a little southwest of the present city of La Unión, near the source of the sacred Managuara River.
Antu Silan Ulap eventually handed over control of the Lenca resistance to Lempira (also called Empira). Lempira was noteworthy among indigenous leaders in that he mocked the Spanish by wearing their clothes after capturing them and he used their weapons, captured in battle. Lempira fought in command of thousands of Lenca forces for six more years in El Salvador and Honduras until finally he was killed in battle and the remaining Lenca forces retreated into the hills. The Spanish were then able to rebuild their garrison town of San Miguel in 1537.
Spanish rule/Colony and Independence
s ventured into ports to extend their dominion to the area. They called the land "" ("Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World"), which was subsequently abbreviated to " (The Savior)".
During the colonial period, El Salvador was part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, created as an administrative division of the Spanish Empire also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala (Spanish: Reino de Guatemala). The Salvadoran territory was administered as the Mayor of Sonsonate, with San Salvador being established as an intendancia in 1786.
Towards the end of 1811, a combination of internal and external factors motivated Central American elites to attempt to gain independence from the Spanish Crown. The most important internal factors were the desire of local elites to control the country's affairs free of involvement from Spanish authorities, and the Creoles' long-standing aspiration for independence. The main external factors motivating the independence movement were the success of the French
revolutions in the eighteenth century, and the weakening of the Spanish Crown's military power as a result of the Napoleonic Wars
, with the resulting inability to control its colonies effectively.
On 5 November 1811, Salvadoran priest José Matías Delgado
, rang the bells of Iglesia La Merced in San Salvador, calling for insurrection and launching the 1811 Independence Movement
. This insurrection was suppressed and many of its leaders were arrested and served sentences in jail. Another insurrection was launched in 1814, and again it was suppressed. Finally, on September 15, 1821, in light of unrest in Guatemala, Spanish authorities capitulated and signed the 'Acta de Independencia' (Deed of Independence) which released all of the Captaincy of Guatemala (comprising current territories of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the Mexican state of Chiapas
) from Spanish rule and declared its Independence.
In early 1822, the authorities of the newly independent Central American provinces, meeting in Guatemala City, voted to join the newly constituted First Mexican Empire
under Agustín de Iturbide
. El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countries. A Mexican military detachment marched to San Salvador
and suppressed dissent, but with the fall of Iturbide on 19 March 1823, the army decamped back to Mexico. Shortly thereafter, the authorities of the provinces revoked the vote for joining Mexico, deciding instead to form a federal union of the five remaining provinces (Chiapas permanently joined Mexico at this juncture).
The enormous profits that coffee
yielded as a monoculture export served as an impetus for the concentration of land in the hands of an oligarchy
of just a few families. A succession of president
s from the ranks of the Salvadoran oligarchy, nominally both conservative
, throughout the last half of the nineteenth century generally agreed on the promotion of coffee as the predominant cash crop
, on the development of infrastructure (railroads and port facilities) primarily in support of the coffee trade, on the elimination of communal landholdings to facilitate further coffee production, on the passage of anti-vagrancy
laws to ensure that displaced campesinos
and other rural residents provided sufficient labor for the coffee fincas (plantation
s), and on the suppression of rural discontent. In 1912, the national guard was created as a rural police force.
Araujo was followed by the Melendez-Quinonez dynasty that lasted from 1913 to 1927. Pio Romero Bosque
, ex-Minister of the Government, succeeded president Jorge Melendez
and in 1930 he announced free elections in which Ing. Arturo Araujo
came to power on March 1, 1931. His government only lasted nine months. His Labor Party lacked political and government experience and many Labor party members used government offices inefficiently.
In that year, Farabundo Martí
came back from exile that was ordered by Romero Bosque, sending him to Washington, D.C. and spending time with U.S. President Herbert Hoover
. He was visited by some local leftists. President Romero Bosque sent him away before the upcoming 1930 presidential elections for his communist activities. President Araujo faced popular discontent as people expected economic reforms and land. Demonstrations started since the first week of his government in front of the National Palace. His Minister of War was General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez
and his National Police Director Rochac, the president's brother-in-law.
A coup d'état was organized by junior officers and the first strike started in the First Regiment of Infantry across from the National Palace in downtown San Salvador and only the First Regiment of Calvary and the National Police was loyal to the president and defended him (the National Police had been paid its payroll), but later that night on December 1931, after hours of military fight and outnumbered surrendered to the military revolution.
The Directorate (composed of officers) hid behind a shadowy figure, whose name (as told by Thomas Anderson in his book Matanza) was Rodolfo Duke, a rich man and also General Martínez. The causes of the revolt were mainly supposed to be due to the discontent of the army for not being paid by President Araujo for some months. Araujo left the National Palace and later tried to organize to defeat the revolt, but was unable.
The U.S. Minister in El Salvador met with the Directorate and later recognized the government of Vice President Martínez who agreed to have later presidential elections (Martínez resigned in 1934 six months before the presidential elections to be able to run for the presidency and then as the only candidate won the election ruling from 1935 to 1939 and then 1939–1943 and finally started his 4th term in 1944 but resigned in May after the General strike; Martínez said he was going to respect the Constitution which said he could not be reelected, but he did not).
From December 1931, the year of the coup in which Martínez came to power, there was brutal suppression of rural resistance. The most notable event was the February 1932 Salvadoran peasant uprising, led by Farabundo Martí
and with leaders like Abel Cuenca, and other academic people like Alfonso Luna and Mario Zapata. Only Abel Cuenca survived, the other freedom fighters were killed by the government. It was later referred to as La Matanza
(the massacre), because President Martinez massacred tens of thousands of peasants.
Historically, high Salvadoran population density has contributed to tensions with neighboring Honduras
, as land-poor Salvadorans emigrated to less densely populated Honduras and established themselves as squatters on unused or underused land. This phenomenon was a major cause of the 1969 Football War
between El Salvador and Honduras. As many as 130,000 Salvadorans had been forcibly expelled or had fled from Honduras.
The PDC and the PCN partiesIn 1960, two political parties were born and are still active in the El Salvador politics; the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) and the National Conciliation Party (PCN). Both share ideals, but one represents the middle class and the latter the Army.
Opposition leader José Napoleón Duarte
from the PDC
was the mayor of San Salvador from 1964 to 1970, winning three elections during the Jose Adalberto Rivera regime (this president allowed free elections for mayors and the National Assembly). Duarte later ran for president but was defeated in the 1972 presidential elections with UNO (National Opposition Union). The official PCN was declared winner with ex-Minister of Interior Col. Arturo Armando Molina. Duarte, at some officers' request, supported a revolt for the election fraud, but was captured, tortured and later exiled. Duarte came back to the country in 1979 to enter politics after working in Venezuela projects as an engineer.
The October 1979 coup d'étatIn October 1979, a coup d'état
brought the Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador
to power. It nationalized many private companies and took over much privately owned land. The purpose of this new junta was to stop the revolutionary movement already underway because of Duarte's stolen election. Nevertheless, the oligarchy opposed agrarian reform and a junta formed with young liberal elements from the Army such as General Majano and General Gutierrez as well as progressives such as Ungo and Alvarez.
Owing to the pressure of the staunch oligarchy and the inability to control the Army in repressing its own people because they were fighting for their right to unionize, agrarian reform, better wages, health, freedom of expression, this Junta was dissolved. In the meantime the guerrilla movement was spreading in all sectors of the Salvadoran society. Middle and high school students were organized in MERS (Movimiento Estudiantil Revolucionario de Secundaria, Revolutionary Movement of Secondary Students); college students were involved with AGEUS (Asociacion de Estudiantes Universitarios Salvadorenos; Association of Salvadoran College Students); workers were organized in BPR (Bloque Popular Revolucionario, Popular Revolutionary Block).
The U.S. supported and financed the creation of a second Junta to change the political environment and stop the spread of a leftist insurrection. Napoleon Duarte was recalled from his exile in Venezuela to head this new Junta. However, a revolution was already underway and his new role as head of the Junta was seen as opportunistic by the general population. He was unable to influence the outcome of the insurrection movement and this resulted in the Salvadoran Civil War (1980–1992).
End of the 20th centuryFrom 1989 until 2004, Salvadorans favored the Nationalist Republican Alliance
(ARENA) party, voting in ARENA presidents in every election (Alfredo Cristiani
, Armando Calderón Sol
, Francisco Flores Pérez
, Antonio Saca
) until 2009, when Mauricio Funes
was elected president from the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
Economic reforms since the early 1990s have brought major benefits in terms of improved social conditions, diversification of its export sector, and access to international financial markets at investment grade level, while crime remains a major problem for the investment climate. This all ended in 2001 and support for ARENA weakened. There is internal turmoil in the ARENA party while the FMLN party is growing and united.
21st centuryThe unsuccessful attempts of the left-wing party to win presidential elections led to its selection of a journalist rather than a former guerrilla leader as a candidate. On March 15, 2009, Mauricio Funes
, a television figure, became the first president from the FMLN
party. He was inaugurated on June 1, 2009. One focus of the Funes government has been revealing the alleged corruption from the past government.
). It is the smallest country in continental America and is affectionately called ("Pulgarcito
de America"), the "Tom Thumb
of the Americas". It has 123.6 square miles (320.1 km²) of water within its borders. It lies between latitudes 13°
, and longitudes 87°
Several small rivers flow through El Salvador into the Pacific Ocean, including the Goascorán
, Jiboa, Torola, Paz
and the Río Grande de San Miguel
. Only the largest river, the Lempa River
, flowing from Guatemala
across El Salvador to the ocean, is navigatable for commercial traffic.
Volcanic craters enclose lakes, the most important of which are Lake Ilopango
(70 km²/27 sq mi) and Lake Coatepeque (26 km²/10 sq mi). Lake Güija
is El Salvador's largest natural lake (44 km²/17 sq mi). Several artificial lakes were created by the damming of the Lempa, the largest of which is Embalse Cerrón Grande
El Salvador shares borders with Guatemala and Honduras. It is the only Central American country that does not have a Caribbean coastline. The highest point in the country is Cerro El Pital
at 8,957 feet (2,730 m), which shares a border with Honduras
ClimateEl Salvador has a tropical climate
with pronounced wet and dry seasons. Temperatures vary primarily with elevation and show little seasonal change. The Pacific lowlands are uniformly hot; the central plateau and mountain areas are more moderate. The rainy season extends from May to October, this time of year is referred to as invierno or winter. Almost all the annual rainfall occurs during this time, and yearly totals, particularly on southern-facing mountain slopes, can be as high as 2170 millimetres (85.4 in). The best time to visit El Salvador would be at the beginning or end of the dry season. Protected areas and the central plateau receive less, although still significant, amounts. Rainfall during this season generally comes from low pressure over the Pacific and usually falls in heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Hurricanes occasionally form in the Pacific with the notable exception of Hurricane Mitch
, which formed in the Atlantic and crossed Central America.
From November through April, the northeast trade winds control weather patterns; this time of year is referred to as verano, or summer. During these months, air flowing from the Caribbean has lost most of the precipitation while passing over the mountains in Honduras
. By the time this air reaches El Salvador, it is dry, hot, and hazy. However, in the extreme northeastern part of the country, near Cerro El Pital
snow is know to fall during this time as well as during the winter of course due to a very high elevation (it is often referred to as the coldest place in the country). During El Salvador's summer temperatures are warm to hot but dry (excluding the northern higher mountain ranges, where temperatures are chilly).
Biodiversity and endangered species
Of these four the most common is the olive ridley, followed by the brown (black). The other two species are much more difficult to find as they are critically endangered (hawksbill and leatherback), while the olive ridley and brown (black), are in danger of extinction.
Recent conservation efforts provide hope for the future of the country's biological diversity. In 1997 the government established the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources. A general environmental framework law was approved by the National Assembly in 1999. Specific legislation to protect wildlife is still pending.
In addition, a number of non-governmental organizations are doing important work to safeguard some of the country's most important forested areas. Foremost among these is SalvaNatura which manages El Impossible, the country's largest national park, under an agreement with El Salvador's environmental authorities.
Despite these efforts much remains to be done.
In El salvador it is estimated that there are 500 species of birds, 1,000 species of butterflies, 400 species of orchids, 800 species of trees, and 800 species of marine fish.
Natural disastersEl Salvador lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire
, and is thus subject to significant tectonic activity, including frequent earthquake
s and volcanic
activity. Recent examples include the earthquake on January 13, 2001, that measured 7.7 on the Richter scale
and caused a landslide
that killed more than 800 people; and another earthquake only a month after the first one, on February 13, 2001, that killed 255 people and damaged about 20% of the nation's housing. Luckily, many families were able to find safety from the landslides caused by the earthquake.
The San Salvador area has been hit by earthquakes in 1576, 1659, 1798, 1839, 1854, 1873, 1880, 1917, 1919, 1965, 1986, 2001 and 2005. The 5.7 Mw
-earthquake of 1986 resulted in 1,500 deaths, 10,000 injuries, and 100,000 people left homeless.
El Salvador's most recent destructive volcanic eruption took place on October 1, 2005, when the Santa Ana Volcano
spewed up a cloud of ash, hot mud and rocks, which fell on nearby villages and caused two deaths. The most severe volcanic eruption in this area occurred in the 5th century AD when the Ilopango volcano erupted with a VEI
strength of 6, producing widespread pyroclastic flow
s and devastating Mayan cities
El Salvador's position on the Pacific Ocean also makes it subject to severe weather conditions, including heavy rainstorms and severe drought
s, both of which may be made more extreme by the El Niño and La Niña
effects. In the summer of 2001, a severe drought destroyed 80% of the country's crops, causing famine
in the countryside. On October 4, 2005, severe rains resulted in dangerous flooding and landslide
s, which caused a minimum of fifty deaths. El Salvador's location in Central America also makes it vulnerable to hurricanes coming off the Caribbean, however this risk is much less than for other Central American countries.
The Santa Ana Volcano
in El Salvador is currently dormant, the last eruptions were in 1904 and 2005. Lago de Coatepeque
(one of El Salvador's lakes) was created by water filling the caldera
formed after a massive eruption.
The British Imperial College's
El Salvador Project
aims to build earthquake-proof buildings in remote areas of the country.
Government and politics
The other entities are the Legislative Branch, called El Salvador's Legislative Assembly (unicameral) of 84 deputies, and the Judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court, which is composed of 15 judges, one of them being elected as President of judiciary.
The Chapultepec Peace Accords (1992) created the new National Civil Police, the Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The Peace Accords re-imagined the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) as a political party and redefined the role of the army to be for the defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Accords also removed some security forces who were in command of the army, such as the National Guard, Treasury Police and special battalions that were formed to fight against the insurgency of the 1980s.
The political framework of El Salvador is a presidential
with a multiform multi-party system. The President of El Salvador
, currently Mauricio Funes
, is both head of state
and head of government
. Executive power
is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government
and the Legislative Assembly
. The country also has an independent Judiciary
and Supreme Court.
Main Political PartiesAlthough El Salvador has 6 political parties, the main ones, or the one which receive the most votes are the conservative right, ARENA, and the liberal left, FMLN. The GANA, PDC, PCN, and CD have been retired.
Human rightsAmnesty International
asserts that anti-terrorism laws are misused, allowing the government to detain and harass its political opponents. In addition, Amnesty International has drawn attention to several arrests of police officers for unlawful police killings. Other current issues to gain Amnesty International's attention in the past 10 years include missing children, failure of law enforcement to properly investigate and prosecute crimes against women, and rendering organized labor illegal.
DepartmentsEl Salvador is divided into 14 departments
(departamentos), which in turn are subdivided into 262 municipalities
Department names and abbreviations for the 14 Salvadoran Departments:
|Departments of El Salvador|
| Western El Salvador
Ahuachapán is a department of El Salvador in the west of the country. The capital is Ahuachapán. In the South it has the Apenca-Ilamatepec Range and the Cerro Grande de Apaneca...
Ahuachapán is a city and municipality and the capital of the Ahuachapán Department in western El Salvador. The municipality including the city covers an area of 244.84 km² and as of 2007 has a population of 110,511 people...
Santa Ana Department
Santa Ana is a department of El Salvador in the northwest of the country. The capital is Santa Ana.- General information :It has 2,023 km² and a population of over 600,000. This department was created on February 8, 1855...
Santa Ana, El Salvador
Santa Ana is the second largest city in El Salvador, located 64 kilometers west of San Salvador, the capital city. Santa Ana has approximately 274,830 inhabitants and serves both as the capital of the department of Santa Ana and...
Sonsonate is a department of El Salvador in the western part of the country. The capital is Sonsonate.The department has a population of over 500,000 and an area of 1,226 km².Created on June 12, 1824...
| Central El Salvador
La Libertad(Santa Tecla
Santa Tecla, El Salvador
Santa Tecla is a municipality in the La Libertad department of El Salvador. It is the capital of the department of La Libertad.The city was named after Saint Thecla who was a saint of the early Christian Church, and a reported follower of Paul of Tarsus in the 1st century AD...
Chalatenango is a department of El Salvador, located in the northwest of the country. The capital is the city of Chalatenango. The Chalatenango Department encompasses 2,017 km² and contains more than 220,000 inhabitants. Las Matras Archaeological Ruins contains the relics of prehistoric...
Chalatenango is a town and municipality in the Chalatenango department of El Salvador. It is the capital of the department.The coat of arms is actually the same as the department's, as is the flag....
Cuscatlán is a department of El Salvador, located in the center of the country. With a surface area of , it is El Salvador's smallest department. It is inhabited by over 200,000 people. Cuscatlán or Cuzcatlán was the name the original inhabitants of the Western part of the country gave to most of...
Cojutepeque is the capital city of El Salvador's Cuscatlán department. It also serves as the administrative centre for the surrounding municipality of Cojutepeque...
San Salvador Department
San Salvador is a department of El Salvador in the west central part of the country. The capital is San Salvador, which is also the national capital. The department has North of the Rio Lempa Valley, the "Valle de las Hamacas" and a section of Lake Ilopango...
The city of San Salvador the capital and largest city of El Salvador, which has been designated a Gamma World City. Its complete name is La Ciudad de Gran San Salvador...
La Paz Department (El Salvador)
La Paz is a department of El Salvador in the south central area of the country. The capital is Zacatecoluca. La Paz has an area of 1,224 km² and a population of more than 300,000. The department was created in 1852. There are various caves containing rock writing. The department has a church...
Cabañas is a department of El Salvador in the north central part of the country. The capital is Sensuntepeque. Sensuntepeque means 400 hills because around the department there are small hills.One of the coldest regions in El Salvador and Certified place of Tourism , strongly recommended. Cabañas...
Sensuntepeque is a municipality in the Cabañas department of El Salvador....
San Vicente Department
San Vicente is a department of El Salvador in the center of the country. The capital is San Vicente. On October 4, 1834, San Vicente City of Austria and Lorenzana was made the capital of State of El Salvador during the Federal Republic of Central America...
San Vicente, El Salvador
San Vicente is a municipality in the San Vicente department of El Salvador. It was founded by 50 Spanish families in 1635, under the Tempisque tree, which is still standing today....
| Eastern El Salvador
Usulután from the Nawat language is a department of El Salvador in the southeast of the country . The capital is Usulután.It is El Salvador's largest department...
Usulután is the 5th largest city in El Salvador, and capital of the Department of Usulutan in the south-east of El Salvador. As of 2006, it is estimated to have population of 71,636 people.Usulutan rests in a rich agricultural valley....
San Miguel Department (El Salvador)
San Miguel is a department of El Salvador in the eastern part of the country. The capital is San Miguel. It has 2,077 km² and a population of over 450,000...
San Miguel, El Salvador
San Miguel is the fourth most populous city in El Salvador after Santa Ana and Soyapango and the second most important after San Salvador. It is located 138 km east of the capital, San Salvador. It is also the capital of the department of San Miguel and a municipality...
Morazán is a department of El Salvador. Located in the northeast part of the country, its capital is San Francisco Gotera. It covers a total surface area of 1,447 km² and has a population of more than 200,000.-History:...
(San Francisco Gotera)
La Unión Department
La Unión is a department of El Salvador. It is located in the eastern part of the country and its capital is La Unión. It covers a total of 2,074 km² and has a population of 300,000. The department was created on June 22, 1865 and the city of La Unión was made its capital...
|Note: Departamental capitals are in parentheses.|
EconomyThere are several hydroelectric dams along the Lempa river. There is the Guayojo dam, the Cerrón Grande Hydroelectric Dam
, the 5 de Noviembre dam, and the 15 de Septiembre dam which can be easily seen from the Pan-American highway
According to the IMF and CIA World Factbook, El Salvador has the third largest economy in the region (behind Costa Rica and Panama) when comparing nominal Gross Domestic Product and purchasing power GDP. El Salvador's GDP per capita stands at US $4,365.
El Salvador's economy has been hampered at times by natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, but it is currently growing steadily. Antiguo Cuscatlán
has the highest per capita income of all the cities in the country and is a center of international investment.
GDP in purchasing power parity
(PPP) in 2008 was estimated at $ 25.895 billion USD. The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 64.1%, followed by the industrial sector at 24.7% (2008 est.). Agriculture represents only 11.2% of GDP (2010 est.).
has been growing since 1996 at an annual rate that averages 3.2% real growth. The government has recently committed to free market
initiatives, and the 2007 GDP's real growth rate was 4.7%.
In December 1999, net international reserves equaled US $1.8 billion or roughly five months of imports. Having this hard currency buffer to work with, the Salvadoran government undertook a monetary integration plan beginning January 1, 2001 by which the U.S. dollar became legal tender alongside the Salvadoran colón
and all formal accounting was done in U.S. dollars. Thus the government has formally limited the implementing of open market monetary policies to influence short term variables in the economy. As of September 2007, net international reserves stood at $2.42 billion.
It has long been a challenge in El Salvador to develop new growth sectors for a more diversified economy. In the past the country produced gold and silver. As with other former colonies, El Salvador was considered a mono-export economy (an economy that depended heavily on one type of export) for many years. During colonial times, the Spanish decided that El Salvador would produce and export indigo
, but after the invention of synthetic dyes in the 19th century, the newly created modern state turned to coffee
as the main export.
There are a total of 15 free trade zone
s in El Salvador. El Salvador signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) — negotiated by the five countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic
— with the United States in 2004. CAFTA requires that the Salvadoran government adopt policies that foster free trade
. El Salvador has signed free trade agreements with Mexico, Chile
, the Dominican Republic, and Panama
and increased its trade
with those countries. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua also are negotiating a free trade agreement with Canada. In October 2007, these four countries and Costa Rica began free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union. Negotiations started in 2006 for a free trade agreement with Colombia
The government has focused on improving the collection of its current revenue
s with a focus on indirect taxes. A 10% value-added tax (IVA in Spanish), implemented in September 1992, was raised to 13% in July 1995.
has been steady and among the lowest in the region. Since 1997 inflation has averaged 3%, with recent years increasing to nearly 5%. As a result of the free trade agreements from 2000 to 2006 total exports have grown 19% from $2.94 billion to $3.51 billion, and total imports have risen 54% from $4.95 billion to $7.63 billion. This has resulted in a 102% increase in the trade deficit from $2.01 billion to $4.12 billion.
Remittances from Salvadorans living and working in the United States, sent to family in El Salvador, are a major source of foreign income
and offset the substantial trade deficit of $4.12 billion. Remittances have increased steadily in the last decade and reached an all-time high of $3.32 billion in 2006 (an increase of 17% over the previous year). approximately 16.2% of gross domestic product
Remittances have had positive and negative effects on El Salvador. In 2005 the number of people living in extreme poverty
in El Salvador was 20%, according to a United Nations Development Program report, without remittances the number of Salvadorans living in extreme poverty would rise to 37%. While Salvadoran education levels have gone up, wage expectations have risen faster than either skills or productivity. For example, some Salvadorans are no longer willing to take jobs that pay them less than what they receive monthly from family members abroad. This has led to an influx of Hondurans and Nicaraguans who are willing to work for the prevailing wage. Also, the local propensity for consumption over investment has increased.
Money from remittances has also increased prices for certain commodities such as real estate. Many Salvadorans abroad earning much higher wages can afford higher prices for houses in El Salvador than local Salvadorans and thus push up the prices that all Salvadorans must pay.
Despite being the smallest country geographically in Central America, El Salvador has the third largest economy with a per capita income that is roughly two-thirds that of Costa Rica and Panama, but more than double that of Nicaragua. Growth has been modest in recent years and the economy contracted nearly 3% in 2009. Due to a growing and dollarized economy In recent years, El Salvador is seeing an increase of Central American, South American, and Caribbean immigrants from Guatemalans, Hondurans
, Nicaraguans, Dominicans, Colombians
, Peruvians and Cubans
searching for better living opportunities.
El Salvador leads the region in remittances per capita with inflows equivalent to nearly all export income and about a third of all households receive these financial inflows. In 2006 El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA has bolstered exports of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector, which faced Asian competition with the expiration of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 2005. In anticipation of the declines in the apparel sector's competitiveness, the previous administration sought to diversify the economy by promoting the country as a regional distribution and logistics hub, and by promoting tourism investment through tax incentives.
El Salvador has promoted an open trade and investment environment, and has embarked on a wave of privatizations extending to telecom, electricity distribution, banking, and pension funds. In late 2006, the government and the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year, $461 million compact to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty in the country's northern region, the primary conflict zone during the civil war, through investments in education, public services, enterprise development, and transportation infrastructure. With the adoption of the US dollar as its currency in 2001, El Salvador lost control over monetary policy. Any counter-cyclical policy response to the downturn must be through fiscal policy, which is constrained by legislative requirements for a two-thirds majority to approve any international financing.
However, on May 12, 2008, El Salvador's Ministry of Economy released statistics gathered in the census of the previous May. These data present a figure for the total population that corroborates the earlier estimates: 7,185,218. Challenges to the 2009 census on a number of grounds are forthcoming.
The country's population is composed of mestizo
s (those of mixed indigenous Native American
ancestry), whites, and indigenous peoples. Eighty-six percent of Salvadorans are of mixed ancestry. In the mestizo population, Salvadorans of predominantly Mediterranean descent and indigenes who are not connected to indigenous customs or language all identify themselves as mestizo culturally.
Twelve percent of Salvadorans are mostly of Spanish
descent. Small communities of French
, Swiss, English
, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian
and Central European ethnicity also exist within the country. The majority of Central European immigrants arrived during World War II as refugees from the Czech Republic
, and Switzerland
, and their descendants are scattered in different communities across El Salvador. Russians
came in during the Salvadoran civil war, concurrent with the U.S./Soviet Union cold war, to help the communist guerrillas in their struggle to seize the government. Americans
, Australians, and Canadians assisted the military junta in their fight against the communists.
Only one percent of the Salvadoran population is pure indigenous, mostly Mayan
, Pipil, Lenca and Kakawira (Cacaopera). The presently low numbers of indigenous people may be partly explained by mass murders during the 1932 Salvadoran peasant uprising
(or La Matanza), in which up to 30,000 peasants were killed in what by modern standards would be considered genocide
because of the Salvadoran army's efforts to exterminate a certain racial group. Other ethnic groups include Arabs, Jews
, other Central Americans, South Americans, Caribbeans and a small group of Asians.
El Salvador is the only Central American country that has no visible or significant African population today because of its lack of an Atlantic coastline and attendant access to the slave trade which occurred along the east coast for centuries. This scarcity of Afro-Salvadoran
population is also due to laws imposed by the Spanish
s around the 17th century after a slave revolt, and which was sustained by authorities even after independence was won from Spain in 1821 and slavery was abolished.
Until the end of the 20th century people of African descent weren't allowed to enter the country unless the oligarchy determined it was absolutely necessary. In addition, General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez
instituted race laws in 1930 that prohibited four ethnic groups—blacks
, Gypsies, Asians, and Arab
s, from entering the country and stipulated that certain people—Lebanese
, Syrian, Palestinian and Turkish
, were not allowed to enter El Salvador unless they were of European ancestry. It was not until the 1980s that this law was rescinded. Regardless of these racial laws, Afro-Salvadorans are present in some areas due to immigrants arriving from neighboring countries like Belize
, and Nicaragua
, who eventually mixed in with the local populations. Palestinian Christians
are today one of the most notable immigrant groups in El Salvador, despite their relatively small numbers.
According to the book "Seeing Indians – A Study of Race, Nation, and Power in El Salvador", by Viginia Q. Tilley, page 210: "...no twentieth-century law or regulation ever prohibited the entry, settlement, or patriation of blacks, under the Martinez dictatorship or any other regime." There have been several publications presenting information about Africans in what is now El Salvador during the colonial period.
Among the immigrant groups in El Salvador, Palestinian Christians
stand out. Though few in number, their descendants have attained great economic and political power in the country, as evidenced by the election of ex-president Antonio Saca
— whose opponent in the 2004 election, Schafik Handal
, was likewise of Palestinian descent — and the flourishing commercial, industrial, and construction firms owned by this ethnic group.
The capital city of San Salvador has about 2.1 million people; an estimated 42% of El Salvador's population live in rural areas. Urbanization
has expanded at a phenomenal rate in El Salvador since the 1960s, driving millions to the cities and creating growth problems for cities around the country.
In the first half of 2007, government statistics provided by La Policía Nacional Civil of El Salvador showed lower numbers in homicide
s as well as robbery
of vehicles. In 2007 homicides in El Salvador were reduced by 22%, extortions were reduced by 7%, and robbery and theft of vehicles had gone down 18%, in comparison with the same period in 2006. However, in 2009, there has been an increase in homicides and extortions of about 30% more than in 2008, according to some statistics.
As of 2004, there were approximately 3.2 million Salvadorans living outside El Salvador, with the United States traditionally being the destination of choice for Salvadorans looking for greater economic opportunity. By 2009, there were about 1.6 million Salvadoran immigrants and Americans of Salvadoran descent in the U.S., making them the sixth largest immigrant group in the country. Salvadorans also live in nearby Belize
The majority of expatriates emigrated during the civil war of the 1980s for political reasons and later because of adverse economic and social conditions. Other countries with notable Salvadoran communities include Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom (including the Cayman Islands
), Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Colombia, and Australia. There is also a large community of Nicaraguan
s, 100,000 according to some figures, in the United States and Costa Rica, many of them seasonal immigrants.
LanguageCentral American Spanish
is the official language and is spoken by virtually all inhabitants. Some indigenous people still speak their native tongues (such as Nahuatl
), but indigenous Salvadoreans who do not identify as mestizo constitute only 1% of the country's population. However all of them can speak Spanish. Q'eqchi' is spoken by immigrants of Guatemala
n and Belize
an indigenous people living in El Salvador. There have also been recent large migrations of Hondurans
German, Dutch and French are taught as a secondary language only in private international schools, such as the Liceo Frances (France), Escuela Alemana (Germany), Academia Britanica Cuscatleca (United Kingdom) and the Escuela Americana (United States). English has been taught by Americans and the British in El Salvador for several decades, at least 50 years. However most formal education is given in private schools, which sometime may make it hard to access for most of the population, who have to attend public schools and receive a very elementary level of English. There has been an American school in the country for a few decades. Japanese
is also spoken. There has been a small Japanese community in El Salvador since World War II., as well as a considerable Taiwanese community.
The local Spanish vernacular
is called Caliche. Salvadoreans use voseo
, which is also used in Uruguay
. This refers to the use of "vos" as the second person pronoun, instead of "tú".However "caliche" is considered informal and some people choose not to use it. Nahuatl
is an indigenous language that has survived, though it is only used by small communities of some elderly Salvadorans in western El Salvador.
ReligionThere is diversity of religious and ethnic groups in El Salvador. The majority of the population are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics (52.5%), while Protestantism
represents 27.6% of the population. Mormonism and Pentecostalism
are two of the notable Non–Catholic faiths in El Salvador. According to a survey in 2008, 52.6% of El Salvador's residents are Catholic and 27.9% are Protestant. Pentecostals and Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). The Latter-day Saint (Mormon church) temple was dedicated earlier this year in San Salvador. Other religions (1.4%) are present as well - Islam, Judaism and Jehovah's Witnesses.
HealthFor the period 2005–2010 El Salvador has the third lowest birth rate in Central America, 22.8 per 1,000. However, it has the highest death rate in Central America during the same period, 5.9 per 1,000. According to the most recent United Nations
survey, life expectancy for men was 68 years and 74 years for women. Healthy life expectancy was 57 for males and 62 for females in 2003. There are about 148 physicians per 100,000 people.
CrimeIn the past years El Salvador has experienced high crime rates including gang-related crimes and juvenile delinquency
. Some say that this was a result of the deportation of thousands of Salvadorans from the U.S, the majority of whom were members of MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha, Mississippi, or La Mara), in the mid-90s. The gangs in which Salvadorans had been involved in the United States began to show up in El Salvador.
Today El Salvador experiences some of the highest murder rates in the Latin America; it is also considered an epicenter of the gang crisis, along with Guatemala
. In response to this, the government has set up countless programs to try to guide the youth away from gang membership; so far its efforts have not produced any quick results. One of the government programs was a gang-reform called "Super Mano Dura" (Super Firm Hand). Super Mano Dura had little success and was highly criticized by the UN
. It saw temporary success in 2004 but then saw a rise in crime after 2005. In 2004, the rate of intentional homicides per 100,000 citizens was 41, with 60% of the homicides committed were gang
The Salvadoran government reported that the Super Mano Dura gang legislation led to a 14% drop in murders in 2004. However, El Salvador currently has 65 homocides per 100,000 inhabitants, more than triple the current rate of Mexico. There are an estimated 25,000 gangmembers at large in El Salvador with another 9,000 in prison. The well most known gangs, called "maras
" in colloquial Spanish, are Mara Salvatrucha
and their rivals Calle 18
; maras are, or at least were, hunted by death squad
s including Sombra Negra
. New rivals also include the rising mara, The Rebels 13.
culture dominates the country heavy in Native American Indigenous and European Spanish influences. A new mix of population began as a result of the European settlers intermixing at great extent with the native Mesoamericans population of Cuzcatlan. The Catholic Church plays an important role in the Salvadoran culture. Archbishop Óscar Romero is a national hero for his role in resisting human rights violations that were occurring in the lead-up to the Salvadoran Civil War. Significant foreign personalities in El Salvador were the Jesuit priests and professors Ignacio Ellacuria
, Ignacio Martín-Baró
, and Segundo Montes
, who were murdered in 1989 by the Salvadoran Army during the height of the civil war.
Painting, ceramics and textile goods are the main manual artistic expressions. Writers Francisco Gavidia
(Salvador Salazar Arrué) (1899–1975), Claudia Lars
, Alfredo Espino
, Pedro Geoffroy Rivas
, Manlio Argueta
, José Roberto Cea
, and poet Roque Dalton
are among the most important writers to stem from El Salvador. Notable 20th century personages include the late filmmaker Baltasar Polio, female film director Patricia Chica
, artist Fernando Llort
, and caricaturist Toño Salazar
Amongst the more renowned representatives of the graphic arts are the painters Augusto Crespin
, Noe Canjura
, Carlos Cañas
, Julia Díaz, Mauricio Mejia, Maria Elena Palomo de Mejia, Camilo Minero
, Ricardo Carbonell, Roberto Huezo, Miguel Angel Cerna, (the painter and writer better known as MACLo), Esael Araujo, and many others. For more information on promiment citizens of El Salvador check the List of Salvadorans.
|Date||English name||Local name||Observance|
|January 16||Peace Accords Day||Día de los Acuerdos de Paz||Celebrates the peace accords signing between the government and the guerrilla in 1992 that finished the 12-year civil war. Mostly political events.|
|March/April|| Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...
|Semana Santa|| Celebrated with Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...
-like events in different cities by the large Catholic population.
|May 1||Labor Day||Día del trabajo||International Labour Day|
|May 3||The Day of the Cross||Día de la Cruz||A celebration with pre-colonial origins that is linked to the advent of the rainy season. People decorate a cross in their yards with fruit and garlands, in the belief that if they do not, the devil will appear and dance at their yard.They then go from house to house to kneel in front of the altar and make the sign of the cross.|
|May 10||Mothers' Day||Día de las Madres||A day that is used to celebrate mums. Similar to many other countries Mother's Day.|
|August 1–7||August Festivals*||Fiestas de agosto||Week-long festival in celebration of El Salvador del Mundo, patron saint of San Salvador.|
|September 15||Independence Day||Día de la Independencia||Celebrates independence from Spain, achieved in 1821.|
|October 1||Day of the children||"Día del niño"||Celebration dedicated to the Children of the country it is celebrated across the country.|
|October 12||Day of the race||Día de la raza||Celebration in dedication to the Christopher Columbus's arrival to America.|
|November 2|| Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality...
|El día de los muertos||A day on which most people visit the tombs of deceased loved ones. (November 1 may be commemorated as well.)|
|November 7–13||National Festival Of Pupusa||Festival Nacional De La Pupusa||This week is the national commemoration of the national food (Pupusa).|
|November 21||Queen of the Peace Day||Dia de la Reina de la Paz||Day of the Queen of Peace, the patron saint. Also celebrated, the San Miguel Carnival, (carnaval de San Miguel) a known feast in El Salvador, celebrated in San Miguel City, similar to Mardi Gras of New Orleans,where you can enjoy about 45 music bands on the street.|
|December 24||Christmas Day||Noche Buena|| In many communities, December 24 (Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...
) is the major day of celebration, often to the point that it is considered the actual day of Navidad — with December 25 serving as a day of rest.
|December 31|| New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve is observed annually on December 31, the final day of any given year in the Gregorian calendar. In modern societies, New Year's Eve is often celebrated at social gatherings, during which participants dance, eat, consume alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the...
|Fin de año||The final day of the Gregorian year, and the day before New Year's Day is celebrated in El Salvador with family reunions.|
The only airport serving international flights in the country is Comalapa International Airport. This airport is located about 40 km (24.9 mi) southeast of San Salvador. The airport is commonly known as Comalapa International or El Salvador International.
El Salvador's tourism industry has grown dynamically over recent years as the Salvadoran government focuses on developing this sector. Last year tourism accounted for 4.6% of GDP; only 10 years ago, it accounted for 0.4%. In this same year tourism grew 4.5% worldwide. Comparatively, El Salvador saw an increase of 8.97%, from 1.15 million to 1.27 million tourists. This has led to revenue from tourism growing 35.9% from $634 million to $862 million. As a reference point, in 1996 tourism revenue was $44.2 million. Also, there has been an even greater increase in the number of excursionists (visits that do not include an overnight stay). 222,000 excursionists visited El Salvador in 2006, a 24% increase over the previous year.
Most North American and European tourists are seeking out El Salvador's beaches and nightlife. Besides these two choices, El Salvador's tourism landscape is slightly different than those of other Central American countries. Because of its geographical size and urbanization, there are not many nature-themed tourist destinations such as ecotours or archaeological monuments. Surfing
, however, is a natural tourist sector that has gained popularity in recent years as Salvadoran beaches have become increasingly popular. Surfers visit many beaches on the coast of La Libertad and the east side of the country, finding surfing spots that are not yet overcrowded. Also, the use of the United States dollar
as Salvadoran currency and direct flights of 4–6 hours from most cities in the United States are important things to note for first-time travelers from the United States. Urbanization and Americanization
of Salvadoran culture has also led to something else that first time tourists might be surprised to see: the abundance of American-style malls, stores, and restaurants in the three main urban areas, especially greater San Salvador.
Currently, tourists to El Salvador can be classified into four groups: Central Americans; North Americans; Salvadorans living abroad, primarily in the United States; and Europeans and South Americans. The first three represent the vast majority of tourists. Recently, El Salvador has attempted to broaden its tourist base and increase the number of visitors from Europe and South America. Early indicators show that the government's efforts are working. When comparing January–March 2007 to the same period in 2006 (most recent data available), overall tourism has grown 10%, while from North America 38%, Europe 31%, and South America 36%. In the fall, Livingston Airlines will initiate the only direct flight between Europe (departing from Milan
) and El Salvador. The Decameron Salinitas, a recently inaugurated resort, has contributed to the growth of tourism from South American visitors (because of name recognition of the resort chain) and is looking to do the same with Europeans.
A whole new segment of tourism has grown up around El Salvador's recent turbulent past. Artillery fragments, battle photographs, combat plans, and mountain hideouts have become tourist attractions in themselves. Since 1992, residents in some economically depressed areas have set up local enterprises to profit from these. The mountain town of Perquin
was considered the "guerrilla capital", and today it is home to the "Museum of the Revolution", featuring cannons, uniforms, pieces of Soviet
weaponry, and other weapons of war once used by the FMLN's (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) headquarters.
According to the El Salvadoran newspaper El Diario De Hoy
, the top 10 attractions are: the coastal beaches, La Libertad
, Ruta Las Flores, Suchitoto
, Playa Las Flores in San Miguel
, La Palma, Santa Ana
(location of the country's highest volcano), Nahuizalco
, and San Ignacio
Among the numerous volcanic crater lakes in the mountains, Lake Coatepeque and Lake Ilopango
are two of the most beautiful.
. Pupusas are a thick hand-made corn tortilla (made of masa de maíz
or masa de arroz, a maize or rice flour dough used in Latin American cuisine
) stuffed with one or more of the following: cheese (usually a soft Salvadoran cheese such as quesillo
, similar to mozarella), chicharrón, or refried beans
. Sometimes the filling is queso con loroco (cheese combined with loroco, a vine flower bud native to Central America). Pupusas revueltas are pupusas filled with beans, cheese and pork. There are also vegetarian options. Some adventurous restaurants even offer pupusas stuffed with shrimp or spinach. The name "pupusa" comes from the pipil-nahuatl word, pupushahua. The pupusa's exact origins are debated, although its presence in El Salvador is known to predate the arrival of the Spaniards.
Two other typical Salvadoran dishes are yuca frita and panes rellenos. Yuca frita, which is deep fried cassava
root served with curtido
(a pickled cabbage, onion and carrot topping) and pork rinds with pescaditas (fried baby sardines). The Yuca is sometimes served boiled instead of fried. Panes con Pavo (literally breads with turkey) are warm turkey
-filled submarine sandwiches. The turkey is marinated and then roasted with Pipil spices and handpulled. This sandwich is traditionally served with chicken
, and watercress
along with cucumber
, and mustard
One of El Salvador's typical breakfasts is fried plantain, usually served with cream. It is common in Salvadoran restaurants and homes, including those of immigrants to the United States.
"Maria Luisa" is a dessert commonly found in El Salvador. It is a layered cake that is soaked in orange marmalade and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
A popular drink that Salvadorans enjoy is Horchata
, a drink native to the Valencian Community
in Spain. Horchata is most commonly made of the morro seed ground into a powder and added to milk or water, and sugar. Horchata is drunk year round and can be drunk anytime of day. It mostly is accompanied by a plate of pupusas or fried yucca. Horchata from El Salvador has a very distinct taste and is not to be confused with Mexican horchata, which is rice based. Coffee is also a common morning beverage.
Other popular drinks in El Salvador include "Ensaladas" a drink made of chopped fruit swimming in fruit juice and Kolachampan, a sugar cane-flavored carbonated beverage.
One of the most popular desserts is the cake Pastel de tres leches (Cake of three milks), consisting of three types of milk; evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream
EducationThe public education system in El Salvador is severely lacking in resources. Class sizes in public schools can reach 50 children, so Salvadorans who can afford the cost often choose to send their children to private schools, that are reasonably higher in every level. Most private schools follow foreign study systems: American, European or other advanced systems. Lower-income families are forced to rely on the public education system.
Education in El Salvador is free through high school. After nine years of basic education (elementary - middle school) students have the option of a two year high school or a three year high school. A two year high school prepares the student to transfer to a university. A three year high school allows the student graduate with a vocational career and enter the workforce or transfer to a university as well to further their education in that field.
The Post-Secondary education varies widely in price
There is one public university:
- Universidad de El Salvador, UES
The University of El Salvador has one main campus in San Salvador and three more campuses in Santa Ana, San Miguel and San Vicente.
El Salvador has several private universities:
- Universidad Dr. José Matías Delgado, UJMD
- Universidad Centroamericana "José Simeón Cañas", UCA
- Universidad Francisco Gavidia, UFG
- Universidad Tecnologica, UTec
- Universidad Don Bosco, UDB
- Universidad Evangelica
- Universidad Dr Andrés Bello UNAB
- Universidad de Nueva San Salvador, UNSSA
- Universidad Albert Einstein
- Universidad Salvadorena Alberto Masferrer, USAM
- Universidad Modular Abierta, UMA
- Universidad Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, UMOAR
- Universidad Polytecnica
- Universidad Católica de El Salvador, UNICAES
- Escuela de Comunicación Mónica Herrera, ECMH
- Escuela Superior de Economía y Negocios, ESEN
Local Foundations and NGOs are fostering further education development.
SportThe El Salvador national football team
qualified for the FIFA World Cup
. Their qualification for the 1970 tournament was marred by the Football War
, a war against Honduras
who the team had defeated.
- International rankings of El SalvadorInternational rankings of El Salvador- International rankings :...
- List of Salvadorans
- "Background Notes", Background Notes: El Salvador, January 2008. Accessed March 6, 2008.
- Bonner, Raymond. Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador. New York: Times Books, 1984.
- CIA World Factbook, "El Salvador", February 28, 2008. Accessed March 6, 2008.
- "Country Specific Information", U.S. State Department, October 3, 2007. Accessed March 6, 2008.
- Danner, Mark. The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.
- Foley, Erin. 'Cultures of the world, El Salvador. 1995
- Montgomery, Tommie Sue. Revolution in El Salvador: From Civil Strife to Civil Peace. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995.
- Vilas, Carlos. Between Earthquakes and Volcanoes: Market, State, and the Revolution America. New York: Monthly Review Press. 1995.
- Embassy of El Salvador in London - Content rich site about every aspect of Salvadorean life, government, business, and politics.
- Chief of State and Cabinet Members
- El Salvador at UCB Libraries GovPubs
- Salvadoran American Humanitarian Foundation (SAHF)
- Fundacion Salvadoreña Para la Salud y el Desarollo Humano (FUSAL)