Introduction    El salvador Top of Page
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.
   Geography    El salvador Top of Page
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
land: 20,721 sq km
water: 320 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Massachusetts
Land boundaries:
total: 545 km
border countries: Guatemala 203 km, Honduras 342 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: 31.37%
permanent crops: 11.88%
other: 56.75% (2005)
Irrigated land:
450 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
25.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 1.28 cu km/yr (25%/16%/59%)
per capita: 186 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
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
   People    El salvador Top of Page
7,185,218 (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35.4% (male 1,299,608/female 1,245,617)
15-64 years: 59.3% (male 2,033,423/female 2,225,810)
65 years and over: 5.3% (male 166,224/female 214,536) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 23.9 years
male: 22.5 years
female: 25.3 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.656% (2010 est.)
Birth rate:
25.31 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Death rate:
5.47 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
Net migration rate:
-3.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
urban population: 61% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 21.52 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 24.38 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.33 years
male: 68.72 years
female: 76.11 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.12 children born/woman (2010 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.8% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
35,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,700 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
noun: Salvadoran(s)
adjective: Salvadoran
Ethnic groups:
mestizo 90%, white 9%, Amerindian 1%
Roman Catholic 57.1%, Protestant 21.2%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.9%, Mormon 0.7%, other religions 2.3%, none 16.8% (2003 est.)
Spanish, Nahua (among some Amerindians)
definition: age 5 and over can read and write
total population: 81.1%
male: 82.8%
female: 79.6% (2007 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
3.1% of GDP (2006)
   Government    El salvador Top of Page
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)
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)
20 December 1983
Legal system:
based on civil and Roman law with traces of common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mauricio FUNES Cartagena (since 1 June 2009); Vice President Salvador SANCHEZ CEREN (since 1 June 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Mauricio FUNES Cartagena (since 1 June 2009); Vice President Salvador SANCHEZ CEREN (since 1 June 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held on 15 March 2009 (next to be held in March 2014)
election results: Mauricio FUNES Cartagena elected president; percent of vote - Mauricio FUNES Cartagena 51.3%, Rodrigo AVILA 48.7%
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 18 January 2009 (next to be held in March 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FMLN 35, ARENA 32, PCN 11, PDC 5, CD 1
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (15 judges are selected by the Legislative Assembly; the 15 judges are assigned to four Supreme Court chambers - constitutional, civil, penal, and administrative conflict)
Political parties and leaders:
Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Rodolfo PARKER]; Democratic Convergence or CD [Hector DADA HIREZI] (formerly United Democratic Center or CDU); Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN [Medardo GONZALEZ]; National Conciliation Party or PCN [Ciro CRUZ ZEPEDA]; Nationalist Republican Alliance or ARENA [Rodrigo AVILA]; Popular Social Christian Party or PPSC [Rene AGUILUZ]; Revolutionary Democratic Front or FDR [Julio Cesar HERNANDEZ Carcamo]
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:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco Robert ALTSCHUL Fuentes
chancery: Suite 100, 1400 16th Street, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 265-9671
FAX: [1] (202) 234-3763
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Dallas, Duluth (Georgia), Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (2), Nogales (Arizona), Santa Ana (California), San Francisco, Washington (DC), Woodbridge (Virginia)
consulate(s): Boston, Elizabeth (New Jersey)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Robert BLAU
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 anthem:

name: "Himno Nacional de El Salvador" (National Anthem of El Salvador)
lyrics/music: Juan Jose CANAS/Juan ABERLE
note: officially adopted 1953, in use since 1879; the anthem of El Salvador is one of the world's longest
   Economy    El salvador Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Despite being the smallest country geographically in Central America, El Salvador has the third largest economy in the region. The economy took a hit from the global recession and real GDP contracted by 3.5% in 2009. The economy began a slow recovery in 2010 on the back of improved export and remittances figures. Remittances accounted for 16% of GDP in 2009, and about a third of all households receive these transfers. 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 and the expiration of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 2005. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$43.98 billion (2010 est.)
$43.46 billion (2009 est.)
$45.04 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$21.8 billion (2010 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.2% (2010 est.)
-3.5% (2009 est.)
2.4% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$7,300 (2010 est.)
$7,200 (2009 est.)
$7,500 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11%
industry: 29.1%
services: 59.9% (2010 est.)
Labor force:
2.94 million (2010 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 19%
industry: 23%
services: 58% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate:
7% (2010 est.) 7.2% (2009 est.)
note: data are official rates; but the economy has much underemployment
Population below poverty line:
30.7% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 37% (2005)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
52.4 (2002) 52.5 (2001)
Investment (gross fixed):
13.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
revenues: $2,491 billion
expenditures: $2,782 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)
Public debt:
55% of GDP (2010 est.) 52.3% of GDP (2009 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.8% (2010 est.) -0.2% (2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12.33% (31 December 2008) 7.81% (31 December 2007)
Stock of narrow money:
$2.534 billion (31 December 2010 est) $2.153 billion (31 December 2009 est)
Stock of broad money:
$9.666 billion (31 December 2010 est.) $9.011 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$10.01 billion (31 December 2010 est.) $9.867 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$4.432 billion (31 December 2009) $4.656 billion (31 December 2008) $6.743 billion (31 December 2007)
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:
0.9% (2010 est.)
Electricity - production:
5.559 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
4.676 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports:
7 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports:
38 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption:
46,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil - exports:
1,927 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports:
46,310 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.)
Current account balance:
-$907 million (2010 est.) -$374 million (2009)
$4.377 billion (2010 est.) $3.797 billion (2009)
Exports - commodities:
offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, textiles and apparel, gold, ethanol, chemicals, electricity, iron and steel manufactures
Exports - partners:
US 43.86%, Guatemala 13.92%, Honduras 13.22%, Nicaragua 5.65% (2009)
$7.98 billion (2010 est.) $7.255 billion (2009)
Imports - commodities:
raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 29.79%, Mexico 10.26%, Guatemala 9.7%, China 4.5%, Honduras 4.4% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.819 billion (31 December 2010 est.) $2.985 billion (31 December 2009)
Debt - external:
$11.45 billion (31 December 2010 est.) $10.83 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$7.522 billion (31 December 2010 est.) $7.132 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$273 million (31 December 2010 est.) $333 million (31 December 2009 est.)
Exchange rates:
the US dollar became El Salvador's currency in 2001
   Communications    El salvador Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.099 million (2009)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
7.566 million (2009)
Telephone system:
general assessment: multiple mobile-cellular providers are expanding services rapidly and in 2009 teledensity exceeded 100 per 100 persons; growth in fixed-line services has slowed in the face of mobile-cellular competition
domestic: nationwide microwave radio relay system
international: country code - 503; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to Central American Microwave System (2009)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 52, FM 144, shortwave 0 (2005)
Television broadcast stations:
5 (1997)
Broadcast media:
multiple privately-owned national terrestrial television networks, supplemented by cable TV networks that carry international channels; hundreds of commercial radio broadcast stations and 1 government-owned radio broadcast station (2007)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
13,849 (2010)
Internet users:
746,000 (2009)
   Transportation    El salvador Top of Page
65 (2010)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 61
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 47 (2010)
1 (2010)
total: 283 km
narrow gauge: 283 km 0.914-m gauge
note: railways have been inoperable since 2005 because of disuse and high costs that led to a lack of maintenance (2008)
total: 10,886 km
paved: 2,827 km (includes 327 km of expressways)
unpaved: 8,059 km (2000)
Rio Lempa is partially navigable for small craft (2010)
Ports and terminals:
Acajutla, Puerto Cutuco
   Military    El salvador Top of Page
Military branches:
Salvadoran Army (ES), Salvadoran Navy (FNES), Salvadoran Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Salvadorena, FAS) (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for selective compulsory military service; 16-22 years of age for voluntary male or female service; service obligation - 12 months, with 11 months for officers and NCOs (2009)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,449,214
females age 16-49: 1,611,248 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,079,038
females age 16-49: 1,373,368 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 71,530
female: 68,971 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
0.6% of GDP (2009)
   Transnational Issues    El salvador Top of Page
International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the delimitation of "bolsones" (disputed areas) along the El Salvador-Honduras boundary, in 1992, with final agreement by the parties in 2006 after an Organization of American States (OAS) survey and a further ICJ ruling in 2003; the 1992 ICJ ruling advised a tripartite resolution to a maritime boundary in the Gulf of Fonseca advocating Honduran access to the Pacific; El Salvador continues to claim tiny Conejo Island, not identified in the ICJ decision, off Honduras in the Gulf of Fonseca
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for cocaine; small amounts of marijuana produced for local consumption; significant use of cocaine

This page was last updated on 14 May 2009


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