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El Salvador

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Quick Facts
CapitalSan Salvador
CurrencyUS dollar (USD)
Areatotal: 21,040 sq km
water: 320 sq km
land: 20,720 sq km
Population6,704,932 (July 2005 est.)
LanguageSpanish, Nawat (among some Amerindians)
ReligionRoman 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

El Salvador is a country in Central America and, geographically, is part of continental North America. It is bordered on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, and lies between Guatemala and Honduras.

Map of El SalvadorMap of El Salvador
Map of El Salvador

el salvador Travel Guide :

El Salvador


Administrative divisions : 14 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Ahuachapán, Cabañas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlán, La Libertad, La Paz, La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel, San Salvador, Santa Ana, San Vicente, Sonsonate, Usulután.

El Salvador


Town of SuchitotoTown of Suchitoto
Town of Suchitoto
El Salvador

Other destinations

Tazumal's main pyramidTazumal's main pyramid
Tazumal's main pyramid
Santa Ana CathedralSanta Ana Cathedral
Santa Ana Cathedral

El Salvador is gaining a reputation of having some of the best waves for surfers in the world. Tourists all over the world are discovering the surfing meccas of La Libertad, near San Salvador, El Sunzal, El Zonte and the wild El Este (the east), transforming El Salvador into the fastest growing surf tourism hot-spot in Central America. The countryside of El Salvador is breathtaking, with volcanoes and mountains offering "green" adventurers what they are looking for. Many of the environmentally oriented community-based organizations promote eco-tourism, and there are a number of beautiful and secluded beaches and forests scattered throughout the country. An already well maintained and practically deserted national park is found in the west at Bosque El ImposibleBosque El Imposible, also Bosque MontecristoMontecristo Cloud Forest, and a quaint fishing village with incredible local hospitality and remote coconut islands in La Isla de Méndez. You should also try to visit the colonial towns of Apaneca, Juayua, Panchimalco, and Suchitoto as well as the Mayan sites of San Andrés, Joya de Cerén (The Pompeii of Central America and an UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Tazumal, whose main pyramid rises some 75 feet into the air. The on-site museum showcases artifacts from the Pipil culture (the builders of Tazumal), as well as paintings that illustrate life in pre-Hispanic El Salvador. Souvenir hunters will find some of the best artesans in San Juan el Espino and La Palma (The artesan capital of El Salvador). The capital, San Salvador, is a cosmopolitan city with good restaurants highlighting the country?s fresh seafood, as well as plenty of shopping, entertainment, and nightlife.

El Salvador


El Salvador covers an area of about 21,000 square kilometers (the smallest country in central america), although it is the most densely populated. El Salvador is home to more than 6,500,000 people. It is divided in 14 sections. It has 25 volcanoes, 14 lakes, and four large cities. Its capital is San Salvador. Its origin comes from the ancient civilization of the Pipils.

El Salvador


The civilization of El Salvador dates from the pre-Columbian time, around 1500 B.C., according to evidence provided by the ancient ruins of Tazumal in Chalchuapa.

The Spanish Admiral Andrés Niño lead an expion to Central America and disembarked on the Island Meanguera, located in the Gulf of Fonseca, on May 31st, 1522. This was the first Salvadoran territory visited by the Spaniards. In June, 1524, Spanish Captain Pedro de Alvarado began a predatory war against Cuzcatlán (land of precious things) that was populated by the native tribes of the country. After 17 days of bloody battles many natives and Spaniards died, including the legendary indigenous leader Atlacatl. Pedro de Alvarado defeated, and hurt in his left hip, abandoned the fight and ran to Guatemala, appointing his brother, Gonzalo de Alvarado, to continue with the conquest of Cuzcatlán. Later, his cousin Diego de Alvarado stablished the villa of San Salvador on April, 1525. King Carlos I of Spain granted San Salvador the title of city in the year 1546. During the following years, El Salvador developed under Spanish rule.

Towards the end of 1810, a feeling of a need for feedom arose between the people of Central America and the moment to break the chains of slavery arrived at dawn on November 5th, 1811, when the Salvadoran priest, Jose Matías Delgado, sounded the bells of the Iglesia La Merced in San Salvador, making a call for the insurrection. After many internal fights, the Acta de Independencia (Act of Independence) of Central America was signed in Guatemala on September 15th, 1821.

On December, 1931, the corrupt and incapable regime of the Labour Party, headed by Araujo, was overthrown. General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez assumed the presidency. The fraudulent elections of January, 1932, were the detonating factor of the social outbreak. Several voting sites were suspended in populations in which the Communist Party had strong presence. The insurrection began. Two frustrated assaults to the Cuartel de Caballería (Cavalry Quarters) were conducted by the rebel forces. The government ordered martial law. Strict censorship of the press was implanted. In the following days thousands of farmers and workers, carrying machetes and some few "Mauser" rifles attacked police quarters, municipal offices, telegraph stations, warehouses, and wealthy landowners' properties. This insurrection was crushed. On January 31st, Manuel Antonio Castañeda sentenced Farabundo Martí to death. He was shot and killed on February 1st, 1932. Many Coup d'états followed, including the one that overthrown General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez.

Relations with Honduras deteriorated in the late 1960s. There was a border clash in 1967, and a four-day so-called Football war (Soccer War), as it was named by the international mass media, broke out in July 1969. The war ended with a cease-fire prompted by pressure from the United States and the Organization of American States. The Salvadoran forces that had invaded Honduras were withdrawn. They were just a few kilometers outside Honduras' capital.

A movement of organized leftist guerrillas was created in 1974 and 1975, increasing the political violence. In 1980, three of the leftist organizations united to coordinate a fight against the government. This movement was called FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional. english- Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front). On March of the same year. Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was killed while he was celebrating the mass. It is widely believed that the final order came from Major Roberto D'Abuisson, the founder and leader of ARENA, a right-wing party. D'Abuisson is best known for his suspected involvement in death squad murders. He died of cancer in 1992. On January 16th, 1992, the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), signed in Chapultepec, Mexico, Los Acuerdos de Paz (Peace accords), putting an end to one of the most painful chapters in the history of El Salvador. The 12 years of armed conflict claimed the lives of over 75,000 people.

Today, El Salvador is stable and with a growing economy, leaving behind its painful history.

El Salvador


El Salvador

noun: Salvadoran(s) adjective: Salvadoran

El Salvador
Ethnic groups:

mestizo 90%, white 9%, Amerindian 1%

El Salvador
Age structure:

0-14 years: 36.5% (male 1,250,901/female 1,198,589) 15-64 years: 58.3% (male 1,860,084/female 2,051,140) 65 years and over: 5.1% (male 153,133/female 191,085) (2005 est.)

El Salvador


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

El Salvador


DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
March/AprilHoly WeekSemana SantaCelebrated with carnival-like events in different cities by the large Catholic population
May 1Labor DayDía del TrabajoInternational Labour Day
May 10Mother's DayDía de la Madre.
August 1–7August FestivalsFiestas AgostinasWeek long festival in Celebration for the El Salvador del Mundo, patron saint of El Salvador.
September 15Independence DayDía de la IndependenciaCelebrates independence from Spain, achieved in 1821
October 12Columbus DayDía de la RazaThis day commemorates the discovery of the Americas
November 2Day of the DeadDía de los Difuntos.
November (final week)Carnival to San MiguelCarnaval de San MiguelWeek long carnival in San Miguel
December 25Christmas DayNavidadSalvadorans stay up on December 24th until 12 am to welcome Christmas with a huge "arsenal" of firecrackers
December 31New Year'sAño nuevoSalvadorans stay up on December 31st until 12 am to welcome the new year the same way as Christmas (You can hear the deafening sound of the firecrackers on both days all over the country).
El Salvador

Get in

El Salvador

By plane

Visitors traveling by plane arrive at Comalapa international airport in San Salvador, located forty-five minutes outside of the city limits.

El Salvador

By car

The Pan-American highway travels through El Salvador and is a safe route for entering the country.

El Salvador

By bus

Numerous buses also traverse the highways of the country. Domestic bus services are typically very cheap (not more than two or three dollars for even the longest rides) and difficult to understand. The buses themselves are often very well painted and adorned with all kinds of posters and trinkets, ranging from the religious to the pop-culture. Longer bus rides will also probably include a stop in some town where plenty of mujeres, and sometimes their children, too, will board hawking mangos, nuts, water, and even sometimes fried chicken in a box. There is no central agency that coordinates bus routes and schedules, so it is best to just ask the cobrador where the bus is going and when. Most are very friendly and helpful, but do watch out for scams on the buses.

El Salvador

Get around

If driving, rental car agencies include Alamo and Hertz. Buses and taxis also provide good ways of getting around. Distances between sights make walking an unpopular option, as does the street layout in the city; San Salvador is not a square city, but has long avenues that are straight and streets that aren't. That said, in some areas walking is a great option, such as in Zona Rosa.

El Salvador


The official language is Spanish, but many Salvadorans who live in the larger cities (i.e. San Salvador, San Miguel, Santa Tecla, Santa Ana) do speak English. Also some people in IzalcoIzalco and other towns with a population of Indians speak Nawat, the Pipil language.

El Salvador


El Salvador has the largest malls in the region, especially in San Salvador, with many trendy international stores. Goods can also be purchased from markets, including national and international supermarkets.

El Salvador


El Salvador


Traditional Salvadoran dish, The PupusaTraditional Salvadoran dish, The Pupusa
Traditional Salvadoran dish, The Pupusa

The restaurant scene in El Salvador is influenced by many different cultures. Food options include Italian, Korean, Japanese, French, Chilean, American, Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish, Middle Eastern, German, Chinese, Argentinian and others. You can also easily find American fast food chains such as Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, Subway, Quiznos, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar's, Domino's, at the main cities in the country. Other franchises include Tony Romas', Bennigans and others. Some of the best restaurants are located in Zona Rosa (Paradise, A lo Nuestro, 503). The Salvadoran diet includes lots of rice and beans, seafood (on the coast), and the most common Salvadoran dish, the famous Pupusa, a corn tortilla filled with cheese and other elements.

El Salvador


The trendiest night spot to visit is called Zona Rosa. Located in San Salvador. Some of the best hotels are located there, including the Sheraton Presidente as well as one of the most luxurious hotels in central america, The Hilton Princess.

Although Zona Rosa doesn't cover a large area(around 1sq mile), it's home to many exclusive bars and nightclubs, and the best restaurants in town.

If you want to visit a nightclub without the probable inconvenience of not being let in, you should visit Las Terrazas at Multiplaza mall or La Gran Vía (a Life-Style center).

El Salvador


El Salvador

City Hotels

  • Hilton Princess San Salvador, Av. Magnolias y Boulevard del Hipódromo, Ph: (503) 2268-4545, Fax: +503-2268 4500, 1 ( Located in the center of Zona Rosa, and offering quality comparable to the best Hilton Hotels found elsewhere in the world. Rooms from $89 per night.
  • InterContinental Real San Salvador, Blvd. de los Heroes, 544. +503-22113333, Fax: (503) 2221-1444, 2 ( Located across the street from the Metrocentro. The staff speaks Spanish, French, and English.
  • Radisson Plaza Hotel, 89 Avenida Norte y 11 Calle Poniente, Colonia Escalón, Ph: (503) 2-257-0700, Fax: (503) 2-257-0710, 3 ( Connected to the World Trade Center.
  • Sheraton Presidente, San Benito (in front of "El Chulón" monument), Avenida la Revolución, Zona Rosa, Ph: (503) 2-283-4000, 4 ( Close to Teatro Presidente and Museo De Arte de El Salvador (MARTE).
  • Siesta Hotel & Casino, Boulevard Los Próceres, Ph: (503) 2-283-0100, Fax: (503) 2-283-0125, 5 ( 4-Star hotel with casino.
  • Holiday Inn, Urbanización y Boulevard Santa Elena. Located close to the American Embassy, Ph: (503) 2-241-4000, Fax: (503) 2-241-4070 or (503) 2-241-4067, 6 ( The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds, double bed rooms, restaurant, bar, and many other amenities. 4-Stars.
  • Comfort Inn Real San Salvador, Tel: +503 237 7000, Fax: +503 237 7001, 7 ( Strategically located between business centers and residential areas in San Salvador - 5 minutes from the internationally known "Zona Rosa", where you can find a variety of international restaurants, bars, coffee shops, museums, and local monuments. 3 minutes' distance from the exclusive Galerias shopping mall and 5 minutes from Metrocentro, the largest mall in Central America.
El Salvador

Beach Resorts

  • Royal Decameron Salinitas, Salinitas, Sonsonate. Ph: +503- 2209-3100, Fax: (503) 2263-0900, 8 ( Located at Playa Salinitas. It's an all-inclusive hotel and resort.
  • Pacific Paradise, Costa del Sol, La Paz. (503)2281-2028; Fax: (503)2281-2107, 9 ( Located at Costa del Sol. 45 minutes from San Salvador.
  • Suites Jaltepeque, Costa del Sol, La Paz.Tel (503) 2257-6249, Fax (503) 2260-0854, 10 ( Located at Costa del Sol. 45 minutes from San Salvador. Apartment type suites.
  • Casa de Mar Hotel & Villas, El Sunzal, La Libertad, Ph: (503) 2389-6284, (503) 2389-6281, (503) 2389-6020, (503) 2265-2080 11 ( Offers guests direct beach front access to perfect waves. Each room overlooks the ocean, as do the swimming pool, bar and hilltop restaurant.
  • Hacienda Del Pueblo, La Cangrejera, La Libertad, US Phone: (626) 446-5362, 12 ( Hacienda del Pueblo is a surf/ecoresort. It is located in beautiful, remote La Cangrejera.
  • Las Flores Surf Club, Located at "Wild East", El Cuco, San Miguel. Ph: USA Offices: (888) 899-8823 13 ( Surfing resort with facilities and equipment that include a private beach access road, beachfront palapas with hammocks, beach shower, boat house with enclosed surfboard storage, restaurant, infinity pool, swim-up bar, massage table and canopy.
El Salvador

Colonial Hotels

  • Los Almendros de San Lorenzo, Located at the colonial town of Suchitoto, Ph: (503) 2-335 1200, 14 ( Historical hotel with suites with air conditioning, gourmet restaurant & bar, tropical gardens & pool.
  • La Posada de Suchitlán, Located at the colonial town of Suchitoto, Tel. (503) 2335-1064, Fax (503) 2335-1277, 15 ( Colonial hotel made of adobe and wood.
  • Santa Leticia, Located close to the colonial towns of Apaneca, Juayua, Ataco, Nahuizalco and Tacuba. Tel. (503) 2433.0357, (503) 2298.2986, (503)2298.2987. Fax. (503) 2224.5988, (503) 2433.0351, 16 ( Offers mountain environment, restaurant, archaeological site, and mountain biking.
El Salvador


  • Quality Hotel Real Aeropuerto El Salvador, Tel: +503 366 0000, Fax: +503 366 0001, 17 ( Five minutes from Comalapa International Airport, less than 30 minutes from the city of San Salvador, and 20 minutes form Costa del Sol.
El Salvador


There are many private schools and universities, including numerous language schools. Some of the best private schools are

  • The American School, san benito,ph:503 2257-8336 18 (
  • The Panamerican School, colonia escalón,ph:503 2209-6000 19 (
  • The German School, jardines de Guadalupe , ph: 503 22438120 20 (
  • The British Academy infront of CA1 Santa tecla.Ph:(503) 2241 4400 21 (
  • The French Academy infront of CA1 Santa tecla
El Salvador


Finding employment in El Salvador is difficult for both Salvadorans and extranjeros (foreigners) alike, although bilingual schools are constantly looking for english spoken, as well as other languages, foreign teachers. Most foreigners find themselves volunteering with one of a number of local community organizations or NGOs. The Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad ( is often looking to hire bi-lingual project managers and liasons, and offers both Spanish classes and numerous volunteer and cultural opportunities.

El Salvador

Stay safe

El Salvador has got a history of violence. From a short but cruel war with Honduras to multiple Coup d'états in the 20th century and a 12 year civil war in the 80's. This made El Salvador gain a reputation of being an unsafe country. But, in fact, since the end of the civil war, 15 years ago, El Salvador has become a safe place for tourists to explore, with one of the fastest growing tourism industries in Central America.

El Salvador

Stay healthy

Stay away from food sold on the streets. If you want to try the Pupusas, you should try to find a salvadoran food restaurant to taste this popular dish. Pharmacies are easily found all over the country and most are open 24/7. Be sure to have a first-aid kit if you travel to the forests and archaeological sites.

El Salvador


  • When speaking with people you don't know, address them in a formal manner, using señor, señora and/or usted.
El Salvador


The international country code for El Salvador is 503.

El Salvador

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