Facts about El Salvador

World Facts Index

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 of El Salvador

Middle America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras
13 50 N, 88 55 W
total: 21,040 sq km
water: 320 sq km
land: 20,720 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: 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
Natural hazards:
known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes very 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
Geography - note:
smallest Central American country and only one without a coastline on Caribbean Sea

More Geography

Population of El Salvador

7,066,403 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 36.3% (male 1,265,080/female 1,212,216)
15-64 years: 58.5% (male 1,900,372/female 2,092,251)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 156,292/female 196,167)
Median age:
21.8 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
24.39 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.49 years
male: 67.88 years
female: 75.28 years
Fertility rate:
3.12 children born/woman
noun: Salvadoran(s)
adjective: Salvadoran
Ethnic groups:
mestizo 90%, Amerindian 1%, white 9%
Roman Catholic 83%
note: there is extensive activity by Protestant groups throughout the country; by the end of 1992, there were an estimated 1 million Protestant evangelicals in El Salvador
Spanish, Nahua (among some Amerindians)
definition: age 10 and over can read and write
total population: 80.2%
male: 82.8%
female: 77.7% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of El Salvador
local long form: Republica de El Salvador
Government type:
San Salvador
Administrative divisions:
14 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Ahuachapan, Cabanas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlan, La Libertad, La Paz, La Union, Morazan, San Miguel, San Salvador, Santa Ana, San Vicente, Sonsonate, Usulutan
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
23 December 1983
Legal system:
based on civil and Roman law, with traces of common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez (since 1 June 2004); Vice President Ana Vilma Albanez DE ESCOBAR (since 1 June 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez (since 1 June 2004); Vice President Ana Vilma Albanez DE ESCOBAR (since 1 June 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held 21 March 2004 (next to be held in March 2009)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (84 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve three-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are selected by the Legislative Assembly)


The smallest country in Central America, El Salvador has the third largest economy, but growth has been modest in recent years. Robust growth in non-traditional exports have offset declines in the maquila exports, while remittances and external aid offset the trade deficit from high oil prices and strong import demand for consumer and intermediate goods. El Salvador leads the region in remittances per capita with inflows equivalent to nearly all export income. Implementation in 2006 of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which El Salvador was the first to ratify, has strengthened an already positive export trend. With the adoption of the US dollar as its currency in 2001, El Salvador lost control over monetary policy and must concentrate on maintaining a disciplined fiscal policy. The current government has pursued economic diversification, with some success in promoting textile production, international port services, and tourism through tax incentives. It is committed to opening the economy to trade and investment, 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 through investments in education, public services, enterprise development, and transportation infrastructure.

$41.63 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.9%
industry: 30.2%
services: 59.9%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
2.81 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 17.1%
industry: 17.1%
services: 65.8%
6.5% official rate; but the economy has much underemployment
revenues: $2.84 billion
expenditures: $3.167 billion;
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 44%
hydro: 30.9%
other: 25.1%
nuclear: 0%
food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals
coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans, oilseed, cotton, sorghum; shrimp; beef, dairy products
offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity
Export partners:
US 54.3%, Guatemala 13.4%, Honduras 7.2%, Nicaragua 4.5%
raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity
Import partners:
US 32.6%, Guatemala 9.7%, Mexico 7.2%, Venezuela 4.9%
The US dollar became El Salvador's currency in 2001.

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

Copyright 2004 - 2008 worldfacts.us