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Flag of El Salvador
Map of El Salvador
Introduction 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.
Geography El Salvador
Middle 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
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
Land use:
arable land: 27.27%
permanent crops: 12.11%
other: 60.62% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
360 sq km (1998 est.)
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, 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
6,353,681 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 37.4% (male 1,211,156; female 1,162,317)
15-64 years: 57.5% (male 1,735,744; female 1,922,395)
65 years and over: 5.1% (male 144,864; female 177,205) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.83% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
28.3 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
6.1 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-3.88 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
27.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.32 years
female: 74.11 years (2002 est.)
male: 66.72 years
Total fertility rate:
3.29 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
25,000 (2000 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,300 (1999 est.)
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: 71.5%
male: 73.5%
female: 69.8% (1995 est.)
Government El Salvador
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of El Salvador
conventional short form: El Salvador
local short form: 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 Francisco FLORES Perez (since 1 June 1999); Vice President Carlos QUINTANILLA Schmidt (since 1 June 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Francisco FLORES Perez (since 1 June 1999); Vice President Carlos QUINTANILLA Schmidt (since 1 June 1999); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 7 March 1999 (next to be held NA March 2004)
election results: Francisco FLORES Perez elected president; percent of vote - Francisco FLORES (ARENA) 52%, Facundo GUARDADO (FMLN) 29%, Ruben ZAMORA (CD) 7.5%, other (no individual above 3%) 11.5%
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 16 March 2003 (next to be held NA March 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FMLN 31, ARENA 27, PCN 16, PDC 5, CD 5
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, secretary general] (includes Social Democratic Party or PSD [Juan MEDRANO, leader); Democratic Party or PD [Jorge MELENDEZ]; Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN [Fabio CASTILLO]; Liberal Democratic Party or PLD [Kirio Waldo SALGADO, president]; National Action Party or PAN [Gustavo Rogelio SALINAS, secretary general]; National Conciliation Party or PCN [Ciro CRUZ Zepeda, president]; National Republican Alliance or ARENA [Walter ARAUJO]; Social Christian Union or USC (formed by the merger of Christian Social Renewal Party or PRSC and Unity Movement or MU) [Abraham RODRIGUEZ, president]
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
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco
telephone: [1] (202) 265-9671
chancery: 2308 California Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Rose M. LIKINS
embassy: Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Urbanizacion Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad, San Salvador
mailing address: Unit 3116, APO AA 34023
telephone: [503] 278-4444
FAX: [503] 278-6011
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:
El Salvador is a struggling Central American economy which has been suffering from a weak tax collection system, factory closings, the aftermaths of Hurricane Mitch of 1998 and the devastating earthquakes of early 2001, and weak world coffee prices. On the bright side, in recent years inflation has fallen to single digit levels, and total exports have grown substantially. The trade deficit has been offset by remittances (an estimated $1.6 billion in 2000) from Salvadorans living abroad and by external aid. As of 1 January 2001, the US dollar was made legal tender alongside the colon. Growth in 2002 will depend largely on the speed of recovery in the US.
purchasing power parity - $28.4 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $4,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 10%
industry: 30%
services: 60% (2000) (2000)
Population below poverty line:
48% (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 39% (2001) (2001)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
51 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.8% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
2.35 million (1999) (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 30%, industry 15%, services 55% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10% (2001 est.)
revenues: $2.1 billion
expenditures: $2.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.) (2001 est.)
food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals
Industrial production growth rate:
3% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
3.69 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 42%
hydro: 36%
other: 22% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
4.07 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
112 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
750 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans, oilseed, cotton, sorghum; shrimp; beef, dairy products
$2.9 billion (2001)
Exports - commodities:
offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity
Exports - partners:
US 65%, Guatemala 11%, Honduras 8%, EU 5% (2000)
$5 billion (2001)
Imports - commodities:
raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 50%, Guatemala 10%, EU 7%, Mexico 5%, (2000)
Debt - external:
$4.9 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
total $252 million; $57 million from US (1999 est.)
Salvadoran colon (SVC); US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Salvadoran colones per US dollar - 8.750 (fixed since January 2001), 8.755 (fixed rate since 1993)
note: since January 2001 the US dollar has also become legal tender; the exchange rate has been fixed at 8.75 colones per US dollar
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications El Salvador
Telephones - main lines in use:
380,000 (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
40,163 (1997)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: nationwide microwave radio relay system
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to Central American Microwave System
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 61 (plus 24 repeaters), FM 30, shortwave 0 (1998)
2.75 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
5 (1997)
600,000 (1990)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
4 (2000)
Internet users:
40,000 (2000)
Transportation El Salvador
total: 562 km
narrow gauge: 562 km 0.914-m gauge
note: length of operational route is reduced to 283 km by disuse and lack of maintenance (2001 est.)
total: 10,029 km
paved: 1,986 km (including 327 km of expressways)
unpaved: 8,043 km (1997)
Rio Lempa partially navigable
Ports and harbors:
Acajutla, Puerto Cutuco, La Libertad, La Union, Puerto El Triunfo
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
83 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 78
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 61 (2002)
1 (2002)
Military El Salvador
Military branches:
Army, Navy (FNES), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,500,712 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 951,715 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 68,103 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$112 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.7% (FY99)
Transnational Issues El Salvador
Disputes - international:
El Salvador claims tiny Conejo Island off Honduras in the Golfo de Fonseca; many of the "bolsones" (disputed areas) along the El Salvador-Honduras boundary remain undemarcated despite ICJ adjudication in 1992; with respect to the maritime boundary in the Golfo de Fonseca, the ICJ referred to the line determined by the 1900 Honduras-Nicaragua Mixed Boundary Commission and advised that some tripartite resolution among El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua likely would be required
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for cocaine; small amounts of marijuana produced for local consumption; domestic cocaine abuse on the rise

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003