The first Spanish settlers arrived in the territory of present-day El Salvador in 1524th and several years later the first Spanish settlement was established. The country remained under the dominion of Spain for nearly 3 centuries and gained independence on September 15th, 1821st. Over the years, El Salvador, like most of its neighbors, passed through many difficult moments. The last hard times were during the period of the long and particularly severe civil war.
Since 1992nd, however, El Salvador took the road to economic reform that promises a brighter future for this country.
Geographic location, boundaries and size of El Salvador. El Salvador is the smallest country in continental North America and covers an area of 21,040 sq.km.
It is situated on the Pacific coast and borders the states of Guatemala and Honduras. To the southeast is the extensive Gulf of Fonseca. The country’s capital is located at 13.41° N and 89.11° W.
El Salvador is the only country in North America, which does not border the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean.
Climate of Salvador. El Salvador falls in the tropical climate zone. The weather is warm or hot all year round with temperatures between 27 and 31°C. There are two seasons – dry and rainy.
The rainy season lasts from April to November and is characterized by hot and wet weather conditions. Storms and torrential rains are quite common in this part of the year.
The average monthly rainfall in the capital San Salvador can reaches and even exceeds 350 mm per month, especially during the most humid months of June and September. During the winter months Salvadorian weather is dry, sunny and pleasant.
Waters of El Salvador. El Salvador has significant water resources. Many deep, but relatively short rivers pass through the territory of the state. Their number is almost 300!
Lempa is the largest river in El Salvador. On the place where Lempa River meets the Pacific, it formed a beautiful and full of life estuary. In the mountainous interior of the country there are numerous lakes.
The largest are Lago de Guiha, situated on the border with Guatemala and Lago de Ilopango, which is located close to the country’s capital San Salvador. But the largest water body in El Salvador is Cerron Grande dam.
Relief of Salvador. The landscape of El Salvador is extremely diverse. Most of the country is occupied by extensive volcanic plateau. In the central part of El Salvador is located a wide plane, which occupies about ¼ of the total area of the country.
Two main mountain ranges cross the small territory of El Salvador. One of them follows the Pacific coast and the other one is located in the far northern parts of Salvador. The highest point of El Salvador is the peak of Monte Cristo (2418 m high).
El Salvador falls in an area with young folded mountain ranges. Therefore there is a high seismic and volcanic activity. The coastline is slightly indented. The largest bay is Bahia de la Union, which is a part of the Gulf of Fonseca.
Population of Salvador. Salvador’s population is about 6.8 million people. This is the most densely populated country in continental North America. Most of the population of El Salvador lives in a plane in the central parts of the country.
There is located San Salvador which is the capital and also the largest city in the country. San Salvador has a population of about 540,000 inhabitants. It is a center of urban agglomeration with about 2.3 million people. The residents of El Salvador are mainly Catholics Christians.
Local population consists mainly of mestizo (mixed native tribes and European settlers). Official language is Spanish, although English is also quite popular and widely distributed.
Economy of El Salvador. Like many of its neighbors, El Salvador is also a developing country and has low living standards. Agriculture is the leading economic sector in the country.
Sugar cane, bananas, pineapples, coffee, cocoa and other tropical fruits are the most important export crops. A characteristic feature of El Salvador is the huge difference between rich and poor.
Most of the Salvadorian population lives in poverty without access to medical care and quality education. At the same time a very small part of the local population controls almost the entire economy.
After the long years of dictatorship and civil war, in the early 90s El Salvador is on a path of economic reforms, leading to better and brighter future. One of the biggest reforms in El Salvador was the changing of the national currency.
During the period 2001 – 2004 years, the official currency – Salvadorian Colon was replaced by U.S. dollar. El Salvador is a member of the Central American Common Market, which aims to create a community with a common foreign economic policy.
Tourism in El Salvador
It is a paradox that El Salvador is located in one of the greenest parts of our planet, but tropical forests cover only about 5-6% of the entire territory of the country.
The local scenery is not so lush compared with the other small Central American countries, especially in comparison with Costa Rica, which is also located in this part of the world. Actually, once the territory of Salvador was covered by thick and impenetrable rainforests.
Due to the fast growing population, however, the demand for arable land began to rise. The agricultural lands gradually increased and the tropical jungle disappeared.
Today, rainforests cover mainly the mountain ranges that, because of the mountainous terrain, are not very suitable for agriculture.
Today on the territory of El Salvador, especially in the mountainous areas, there are still some very beautiful and picturesque places that offer lush forests, deep rivers and crystal clear lakes.
Despite the decreasing of woodland areas, the forests of El Salvador are home to some wonderful representatives of the animal world. One of the most remarkable species is the jaguar.
This spotted cat leads very mysterious and secretive lifestyle. The jaguars usually spend their lazy days hidden among dense foliage and prefer to hunt during the late evening hours.
The forests of El Salvador are home to another fearsome predator which, unlike the jaguar, lives among the tops of the trees.
The harpy eagle is a bird of prey with a body length of over one meter and a wingspan of about two meters. It is the biggest and most dangerous bird of prey in the world.
Unlike many other raptors, which prefer to hunt small rodents and small mammals, the harpies hunt larger animals. The daily menu of the harpy includes medium-sized monkeys and sloths.
This is one of the few birds in the world that would dare to attack people if they feel threatened or feel that their young are threatened. In the rainforests of El Salvador predators are everywhere.
Furthermore, among the dense foliage and crowns of trees, the predators of this small Central American country can be found also into the rivers and lakes.
Beneath the surface of the deep Salvadorian rivers there are dangerous crocodiles! Because of this fact Salvadorian rivers are not quite suitable swimming place.
Although El Salvador is not a popular tourist destination, the country has beautiful beaches, covered with golden or brownish sand and surrounded by palm trees.
Because of the warm currents, ocean water is warm throughout the year. Although it has very long coastline and beautiful beaches, on the territory of El Salvador there are very few resorts.
One of the most beautiful places to visit is the mouth of Lempa River. Do not miss also and the nearby located Bahia de Jiquilisco.
Cuisine of El Salvador. Salvadorian cuisine, like that of other Central American countries, has formed by the merger of culinary traditions of local indigenous people and Spaniards, arriving from Europe.
A typical example of Salvadorian dish is small bread called tortillas de maiz (corn tortilla). This kind of bread is well known among the Salvadorians also as “pupusas.”
Corn tortilla reflects the combination of European and local Indian cuisine. This sort of delicious bread is usually stuffed with cheese, but there are also other combinations such as meat, for example.
Corn products are the most commonly used in the everyday menu of the Salvadorians. One way or another, corn products present to a wide variety of local dishes. Salvadorian cuisine is quite spicy. Garlic is one of the most popular and often used seasoning in this country.
Interesting fact is that the residents of El Salvador usually prefer to eat fried food. This is the most popular way to prepare chicken and pork, while beef is usually prepared as a soup.
Besides the wide variety of grilled and fried meat or meat soups, the Salvadorians also consume a lot of vegetables. Tomatoes are among the most popular, but leadership undoubtedly belongs to the cabbage.
For example, “Curtido” is a sort of salad which is made of slightly fermented cabbage. Undoubtedly this is the most popular salad in El Salvador. “Curtido” is often served as a side dish to meat.
What is the best time to visit El Salvador? If you are planning a trip to El Salvador is advisable to travel during the period between November and April (especially in January). In this way you’ll find a warm, sunny and relatively dry weather, avoiding the worst summer heat and too high humidity.
What part of El Salvador to visit? The best place to visit in El Salvador is the Pacific coast of the department of Sonsonate, located in the western part of the country. This is one of the richest provinces in Salvador.
On the shore of Sonsonate you will find a wide range of accommodation opportunities in exotic Latin American setting. Be sure to visit also the Latin-American Pompeii – Jolla de Serena, located near the capital San Salvador, northwest of the city.
Here you will find extremely interesting historical settlement of the Maya period, which has remained in good shape below the layer of volcanic ash. This historic village is under the auspices of UNESCO.
What clothes should I wear in El Salvador? Salvador is a poor country, so if you are planning to go and browse around, you have to forget about expensive clothes. It will be better for you to prefer more simple and casual clothing. Your clothes should be light and suitable for high temperatures and humidity.
Health. Before starting your trip to El Salvador, will be better to visit and consult with your GP. In this way you will be notified about the immunizations you need before you travel to Central America.
It is also good to know that because of the hot and humid climate, in some areas of El Salvador you are in danger of being infected by malaria. This dangerous disease is transmitted through mosquito bites, but there are preparations that can protect you to a large extent.
Attention! El Salvador is an exotic but dangerous country. Crime rates are quite high, making El Salvador one of the most vulnerable countries in the Americas. The level of killings is among the highest in the world, which is quite disturbing.
There are many places to be avoided, especially in larger cities. Do not travel alone. Always prefer to travel with your friends or as a part of tourist group. Do not carry precious objects while walking around the streets.