El Salvador

El Salvador achieved independence from Spain in 1821 and from the Central American Federation in 1839. A 12-year civil war, which cost about 75,000 lives, was brought to a close in 1992 when the government and leftist rebels signed a treaty that provided for military and political reforms.


El_Salvadorian Flag

El_Salvadorian Flag


Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras

Geographic coordinates:
13 50 N, 88 55 W

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

total: 21,041 sq km
country comparison to the world: 153
land: 20,721 sq km
water: 320 sq km

Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than Massachusetts

Land boundaries:
total: 590 km
border countries: Guatemala 199 km, Honduras 391 km

307 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on coast; temperate in uplands

mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro El Pital 2,730 m

Natural resources:
hydropower, geothermal power, petroleum, arable land

Land use:
arable land: 31.61%
permanent crops: 10.93%
other: 57.46% (2011)

Irrigated land:
449.9 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
25.23 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 1.84 cu km/yr (22%/14%/64%)
per capita: 301.9 cu m/yr (2007)

Natural hazards:
known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
volcanism: significant volcanic activity; San Salvador (elev. 1,893 m), which last erupted in 1917, has the potential to cause major harm to the country’s capital, which lies just below the volcano’s slopes; San Miguel (elev. 2,130 m), which last erupted in 2002, is one of the most active volcanoes in the country; other historically active volcanoes include Conchaguita, Ilopango, Izalco, and Santa Ana

Environment – current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; contamination of soils from disposal of toxic wastes

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography – note:
smallest Central American country and only one without a coastline on Caribbean Sea

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People & Society

noun: Salvadoran(s)
adjective: Salvadoran

Ethnic groups:
mestizo 86.3%, white 12.7%, Amerindian 1% (2007 census)

Spanish (official), Nahua (among some Amerindians)

Roman Catholic 57.1%, Protestant 21.2%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.9%, Mormon 0.7%, other religions 2.3%, none 16.8% (2003 est.)

Demographic profile:
El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. It is well into its demographic transition, experiencing slower population growth, a decline in its number of youths, and the gradual aging of its population. The increased use of family planning has substantially lowered El Salvador’s fertility rate, from approximately 6 children per woman in the 1970s to replacement level today. A 2008 national family planning survey showed that female sterilization remained the most common contraception method in El Salvador – its sterilization rate is among the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean – but that the use of injectable contraceptives is growing. Fertility differences between rich and poor and urban and rural women are narrowing.
Salvadorans fled during the 1979 to 1992 civil war mainly to the United States but also to Canada and to neighboring Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Emigration to the United States increased again in the 1990s and 2000s as a result of deteriorating economic conditions, natural disasters (Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and earthquakes in 2001), and family reunification. At least 20% of El Salvador’s population lives abroad. The remittances they send home account for close to 20% of GDP, are the second largest source of external income after exports, and have helped reduce poverty.

6,125,512 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109

Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.1% (male 882,185/female 837,646)
15-24 years: 20.8% (male 640,322/female 635,409)
25-54 years: 37.5% (male 1,056,779/female 1,243,220)
55-64 years: 6.6% (male 182,937/female 224,019)
65 years and over: 6.7% (male 187,664/female 235,331) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 57.6 %
youth dependency ratio: 46.2 %
elderly dependency ratio: 11.4 %
potential support ratio: 8.8 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 25.6 years
male: 24.1 years
female: 27.1 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.27% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174

Birth rate:
16.79 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115

Death rate:
5.67 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 173

Net migration rate:
-8.44 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208

urban population: 64.8% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.35% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
SAN SALVADOR (capital) 1.605 million (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.85 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2008 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
81 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 81

Infant mortality rate:
total: 18.44 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 97
male: 20.52 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.18 years
country comparison to the world: 114
male: 70.9 years
female: 77.62 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.95 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2008)

Health expenditures:
6.8% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 87

Physicians density:
1.6 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density:
1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source:
urban: 95% of population
rural: 81% of population
total: 90.1% of population
urban: 5.8% of population
rural: 19% of population
total: 9.9% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 79.5% of population
rural: 53.4% of population
total: 70.5% of population
urban: 20.5% of population
rural: 46.6% of population
total: 29.5% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
24,900 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
1,000 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
25.8% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 51

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
6.6% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 78

Education expenditures:
3.4% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 129

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.5%
male: 87.1%
female: 82.3% (2010 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2012)

Child labor – children ages 5-14:
total number: 179,303
percentage: 4 %
note: data represents children ages 5-17 (2007 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 12.4%
country comparison to the world: 97
male: 12.8%
female: 11.7% (2012)

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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of El Salvador
conventional short form: El Salvador
local long form: Republica de El Salvador
local short form: El Salvador

Government type:

name: San Salvador
geographic coordinates: 13 42 N, 89 12 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: none scheduled for 2014

Administrative divisions:
14 departments (departamentos, singular – departamento); Ahuachapan, Cabanas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlan, La Libertad, La Paz, La Union, Morazan, San Miguel, San Salvador, San Vicente, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Usulutan

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

many previous; latest drafted 16 December 1983, enacted 23 December 1983; amended many times, last in 2009 (2012)

Legal system:
civil law system with minor common law influence; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court

International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Salvador SANCHEZ CEREN (since 1 June 2014); Vice President Salvador Oscar ORTIZ (since 1 June 2014); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Salvador SANCHEZ CEREN (since 1 June 2014); Vice
President Salvador Oscar ORTIZ (since 1 June 2014)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president
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elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held on 2 February 2014, with a runoff on 9 March 2014 (next to be held in February 2019)
election results: percent of vote – Salvador SANCHEZ CEREN elected president; first-round results – Salvador SANCHEZ CEREN 48.9%, Norman QUIJANO 39%, Antonio SACA 11.4%; second-round results – Salvador SANCHEZ CEREN 50.11%, Norman QUIJANO 49.89%

Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (84 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve three-year terms)
elections: last held on 11 March 2012 (next to be held in March 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – ARENA 33, FMLN 31, GANA 11, CN 7, PES 1, PCD 1; note – changes in party affiliation now reflect the following seat distribution: as of 28 March 2014 – FMLN 31, ARENA 28, GANA 11, CN 7, Unidos por El Salvador 5, CD 1, PDC 1

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (consists of 15 judges assigned to constitutional, civil, penal, and administrative conflict divisions)
judge selection and term of office: judges elected by the Legislative Assembly on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judicature, an independent body elected by the Legislative Assembly; judges elected for single, 9-year terms with renewal of one-third of judges every 3 years.
subordinate courts: Chambers of Second Instance; Courts of First Instance; Courts of Peace

Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Change (Cambio Democratico) or CD [Douglas AVILES] (formerly United Democratic Center or CDU)
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN [Medardo GONZALEZ]
Great Alliance for National Unity or GANA [Jose Andres ROVIRA Caneles]
National Coalition (Concertation Nacional) or CN [Manuel RODRIGUEZ] (formerly the National Conciliation Party or PCN)
Nationalist Republican Alliance or ARENA [Jorge VELADO]
Party of Hope or PES [Rodolfo Antonio PARKER Soto] (formerly the Christian Democratic Party or PCD)
Unidos por El Salvador [Manuel Rigoberto SOTO Lazo]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
labor organizations:
Electrical Industry Union of El Salvador or SIES
Federation of the Construction Industry, Similar Transport and other activities, or FESINCONTRANS
National Confederation of Salvadoran Workers or CNTS
National Union of Salvadoran Workers or UNTS
Port Industry Union of El Salvador or SIPES
Salvadoran Union of Ex-Petrolleros and Peasant Workers or USEPOC
Salvadoran Workers Central or CTS
Workers Union of Electrical Corporation or STCEL
business organizations:
National Association of Small Enterprise or ANEP
Salvadoran Assembly Industry Association or ASIC
Salvadoran Industrial Association or ASI

International organization participation:
BCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-11, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ruben Ignacio ZAMORA Rivas (since 12 April 2013)
chancery: Suite 100, 1400 16th Street, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 595-7500
FAX: [1] (202) 232-3763
consulate(s) general: Brentwood (NY), Chicago, Coral Gables (FL), Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Santa Ana (CA), Seattle, Tucson, Woodbridge (VA), Woodstock (GA)
consulate(s): Elizabeth (NJ)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mari Carmen APONTE (since 22 September 2010)
embassy: Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad, San Salvador
mailing address: Unit 3450, APO AA 34023; 3450 San Salvador Place, Washington, DC 20521-3450
telephone: [503] 2501-2999
FAX: [503] 2501-2150

Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with the national coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL; the banner is based on the former blue-white-blue flag of the Federal Republic of Central America; the blue bands symbolize the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, while the white band represents the land between the two bodies of water, as well as peace and prosperity
note: similar to the flag of Nicaragua, which has a different coat of arms centered in the white band – it features a triangle encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom; also similar to the flag of Honduras, which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band

National symbol(s):
turquoise-browed motmot (bird)

National anthem:
name: “Himno Nacional de El Salvador” (National Anthem of El Salvador)

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Economy – overview:
The smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador has the fourth largest economy in the region. With the global recession, real GDP contracted in 2009 and economic growth has since remained low, averaging less than 2% from 2010 to 2013. Remittances accounted for 16% of GDP in 2013 and were received by about a third of all households.

In 2006, El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which has bolstered the export of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector amid increased Asian competition. The Salvadoran Government maintained fiscal discipline during post-war reconstruction and reconstruction following earthquakes in 2001 and hurricanes in 1998 and 2005, but El Salvador’s external debt has been growing over the last several years, amounting to some 57% of GDP in 2013. In September 2013,

El Salvador was awarded a $277 million second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) – a United States Government agency aimed at stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty – to improve El Salvador’s competitiveness and productivity in international markets.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$47.47 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
$46.72 billion (2012 est.)
$45.84 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$24.67 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
1.6% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
1.9% (2012 est.)
2.2% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$7,500 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
$7,400 (2012 est.)
$7,300 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
9% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
8.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
9.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 93.9%
government consumption: 11.1%
investment in fixed capital: 14.5%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 29%
imports of goods and services: -48.5%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 10.3%
industry: 29.5%
services: 60.1% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans, oilseed, cotton, sorghum; beef, dairy products

food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals

Industrial production growth rate:
2.1% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123

Labor force:
2.738 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 21%
industry: 20%
services: 58% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate:
6.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
6.1% (2012 est.)
note: data are official rates; but underemployment is high

Population below poverty line:
36.5% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 37% (2009 est.)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
46.9 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 30
52.5 (2001)

revenues: $4.683 billion
expenditures: $5.666 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
19% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-4% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147

Public debt:
62% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
59.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: El Salvador’s total public debt includes non-financial public sector debt, financial public sector debt, and central bank debt

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.9% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
1.8% (2012 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
$NA (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140
5.6% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$2.914 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
$2.796 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$10.12 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
$9.847 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$11.16 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
$10.51 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$10.74 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
$5.474 billion (31 December 2011)
$NA (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:
-$1.331 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
-$1.257 billion (2012 est.)

$5.112 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
$5.447 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, textiles and apparel, gold, ethanol, chemicals, electricity, iron and steel manufactures

Exports – partners:
US 47.3%, Guatemala 13.8%, Honduras 9.6%, Nicaragua 5.4% (2012)

$10.03 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
$9.912 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity

Imports – partners:
US 35.4%, Guatemala 12.7%, Mexico 7%, China 5.6%, Germany 4.2% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.855 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
$3.176 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$14.44 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
$13.56 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$8.879 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
$8.635 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$5.7 million (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
$5.7 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
note: the US dollar is used as a medium of exchange and circulates freely in the economy, 1 (2013 est.)
1 (2012 est.)

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