El Salvador

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Introduction - El Salvador:


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.

Location - El Salvador:


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: 21,040 sq km
land: 20,720 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)

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:


6,948,073 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 36.1% (male 1,281,889/female 1,228,478)
15-64 years: 58.7% (male 1,942,674/female 2,134,154)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 158,276/female 202,602) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 22 years
male: 20.9 years
female: 23.2 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

1.699% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

26.13 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

5.6 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

-3.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.043 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.781 male(s)/female
total population: 0.949 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 22.88 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 71.78 years
male: 68.18 years
female: 75.57 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.08 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate

0.7% (2003 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids

29,000 (2003 est.)

Hiv aids deaths

2,200 (2003 est.)


noun: Salvadoran(s)
adjective: Salvadoran

Ethnic groups

mestizo 90%, white 9%, Amerindian 1%


Roman Catholic 83%, other 17%
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% (2003 est.)

Government - El Salvador:

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


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)
election results: Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez elected president; percent of vote - Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez 57.7%, Schafik HANDAL 35.6%, Hector SILVA 3.9%, other 2.8%

Legislative branch

unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (84 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve three-year terms)
elections: last held 12 March 2006 (next to be held in March 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ARENA 34, FMLN 32, PCN 10, PDC 6, CD 2

Judicial branch

Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are selected by the Legislative Assembly)

Political parties and leaders

Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Rodolfo PARKER]; Democratic Convergence or CD [Ruben ZAMORA] (formerly United Democratic Center or CDU); Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN [Medardo GONZALEZ]; National Conciliation Party or PCN [Ciro CRUZ ZEPEDA]; National Republican Alliance or ARENA [Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez]; 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 Rene Antonio LEON Rodriguez
chancery: 2308 California Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-9671
FAX: [1] (202) 234-3834
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Dallas, Elizabeth (New Jersey), Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (2), Nogales (Arizona), Santa Ana (California), San Francisco, Washington, DC
consulate(s): Boston

Diplomatic representation from the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Charles L. GLAZER
embassy: Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad, San Salvador
mailing address: Unit 3116, APO AA 34023
telephone: [503] 2278-4444
FAX: [503] 2278-5522

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; 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

Economy - El Salvador:

Economy overview

The smallest country in Central America, El Salvador has the third largest economy, but growth has been minimal in recent years. Hoping to stimulate the sluggish economy, the government is striving to open new export markets, encourage foreign investment, and modernize the tax and healthcare systems. Implementation in 2006 of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, which El Salvador was the first to ratify, has strengthened an already positive export trend. The trade deficit has been offset by annual remittances from Salvadorans living abroad - equivalent to more than 16% of GDP - and external aid. With the adoption of the US dollar as its currency in 2001, El Salvador has 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. 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.

Gdp purchasing power parity

$33.68 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$15.16 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

4.2% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$4,900 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 9.7%
industry: 29.6%
services: 60.7% (2006 est.)

Labor force

2.856 million (2006 est.)

Labor force by occupation

agriculture: 17.1%
industry: 17.1%
services: 65.8% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate

6% official rate; but the economy has much underemployment (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line

35.2% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 0.67%
highest 10%: 38.76% (2002)

Distribution of family income gini index

52.5 (2001)

Inflation rate consumer prices

4.9% (2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed

16.2% of GDP (2006 est.)


revenues: $2.82 billion
expenditures: $2.94 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (FY07 est.)

Public debt

42.6% of GDP (2006)

Agriculture products

coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans, oilseed, cotton, sorghum; beef, dairy products; shrimp


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

Industrial production growth rate

2% (2006 est.)

Electricity production

5.293 billion kWh (2006)

Electricity consumption

5.204 billion kWh (2006)

Electricity exports

95.5 million kWh (2006)

Electricity imports

11.2 million kWh (2006)

Oil production

0 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption

43,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports

NA bbl/day

Oil imports

NA bbl/day

Oil proved reserves

0 bbl

Natural gas production

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance

-$1.059 billion (2006 est.)


$3.686 billion (2006 est.)

Exports commodities

offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity

Exports partners

US 49.8%, Guatemala 14.4%, Honduras 8.9%, Nicaragua 5.1% (2006)


$7.326 billion (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity

Imports partners

US 30.6%, Guatemala 8.8%, Mexico 8.5%, Germany 6%, China 4.5%, Brazil 4.2% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.951 billion (2006 est.)

Debt external

$8.841 billion (30 June 2006 est.)

Economic aid recipient

$127.5 million of which, $55 million from US (2005)

Currency code

US dollar (USD)

Exchange rates

the US dollar became El Salvadors currency in 2001

Communications - El Salvador:

Fiscal year

calendar year

Telephones main lines in use

1.037 million (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular

3.852 million (2006)

Telephone system

general assessment: NA
domestic: nationwide microwave radio relay system
international: country code - 503; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to Central American Microwave System

Radio broadcast stations

AM 52, FM 144, shortwave 0 (2005)

Television broadcast stations

5 (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

4,682 (2006)

Internet users

637,000 (2005)

Transportation - El Salvador:


75 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runways

total: 71
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 56 (2006)


1 (2006)


total: 562 km
narrow gauge: 562 km 0.914-m gauge
note: railways not in operation since 2005 because of disuse and lack of maintenance due to high costs (2007)


total: 10,886 km
paved: 2,827 km
unpaved: 8,059 km (2000)


Rio Lempa partially navigable for small craft (2007)

Ports and terminals

Acajutla, Puerto Cutuco

Military - El Salvador:

Military branches

Salvadoran Army (ES), Salvadoran Navy (FNES), Salvadoran Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Salvadorena, FAS) (2006)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for selective compulsory military service; 16 years of age for voluntary service; 12-month service obligation (2006)

Manpower available for military service

males age 18-49: 1,391,278
females age 18-49: 1,542,323 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 18-49: 960,315
females age 18-49: 1,310,466 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually

males age 18-49: 70,286
females age 18-49: 69,526 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp

5% (2006)

Disputes international

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

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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