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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.



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: 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: 31.85%
permanent crops: 12.07%
other: 56.08% (2001)

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, 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



6,704,932 (July 2005 est.)

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.)

Median age:

total: 21.57 years
male: 20.44 years
female: 22.69 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.75% (2005 est.)

Birth rate:

27.04 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate:

5.85 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:

-3.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 25.1 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 27.98 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 71.22 years
male: 67.61 years
female: 75.01 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.16 children born/woman (2005 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.)


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:



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

Source: CIA World Factbook