62 Interesting Facts About El Salvador

El Salvador is a Central American country with a rich culture, long history and plenty of things to learn. With these 62 interesting facts about El Salvador, let’s explore more about its history, economy, people, tourism, volcanoes, culture and more…

Facts about El Salvador’s independence, history and earthquakes 

1. El Salvador became independent from Spain on September 15, 1821.

2. The territory was once occupied by Olmecs, followed by the Mayans. At the end of Mayan rule, the Toltec Empire took control of the country. Later on, in the 11th century, the land was dominated by Pipil people and at last, Spanish people conquered the region. After gaining control of the country, Spanish people forced the locals to become slaves.

3. El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America.

4. “The torogoz” is the national bird of El Salvador.

The Torogoz, El Salvador
Interesting facts about El Salvador: The Torogoz. Image credit – Diego Brito

5. The indigo plant was the most important crop during the colonial period.

6. Chronic political and economic instability plagued the nation between the late 19th century and mid 20th century.

7. The biggest earthquake in the country was experienced on January 13, 2001. It was measured at 7.6 on the Richter Scale.

El Salvador facts for kids

8. Salvadorans are also called Guanacos.

9. Cerro El Pital is the highest point in the country, with a height of 8,957 ft.

10. The country shares its land borders with only two other countries: Guatemala and Honduras.

El Salvador on Map with neighboring countries
Interesting fact about El Salvador: El Salvador on Map with neighboring countries.

11. The U.S. dollar replaced the “colón” as the official currency of El Salvador in 2001.

Centavos de El Salvador
Interesting facts about El Salvador: Colon, the currency of El Salvador prior to 2001. Image credit – Otto (Rodriguez)

12. “El Himno Nacional de El Salvadori” is the national anthem of El Salvador.

13. El Salvador has only two seasons, unlike other countries that have four. The wet season runs from May to October, and the dry season runs from November to April.

14. Education up to ninth grade is free in the country.

15. If we compare areas, it is smaller than the state of Massachusetts.

16. The country does not have people of African descent.

Did you know these interesting facts about El Salvador?

17. The country has never won an Olympic medal.

18. It is also the only country in Central America not to have a Caribbean coastline.

19. Santa Ana Volcano is the highest volcano in El Salvador. It towers 7,760 feet above sea level.

20. The only commercially navigable — and most important river — in El Salvador is the river “Rio Lempa.” Its river basin hosts the capital city of the country – San Salvador.

21. El Salvador’s Barra de Santiago is a beautiful beach where you can find endangered species like the marine turtle and red macaw.

22. El Salvador is the only Latin American country that has troops in Iraq.

23. Interestingly, there is a beach in the country called Water, a city called Society, a river called Big River, along with some islands called islands.

Homicide Rate Projection El Salvador
Homicide Rate Projection El Salvador. Source

24. The country is also among the list of countries with the highest murder rate.

25. Did you know that El Salvador is almost 20 times deadlier than the US and 90 times deadlier than the UK? A record-breaking 4,246 homicides were recorder in El Salvador during the first eight months of 2015.

26. El Salvador is also known for the production of Anil, the plant producing the prized blue dye known as indigo. The extraction of the dye is done by pressing the plant with bare feet. (Please note that Anil is the Spanish word for indigo)

27. The country suffers from high rates of crime, poverty and inequality.

28. The name of the country translates to “the Savior” in Spanish.

Tourism in El Salvador

29. It gets half as many visitors annually as Costa Rica.

30. The country is also becoming a hub for eco-tourism.

31. The country is one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world. Many surfing competitions are hosted there every year.

32. National Park Cerro Verde in El Salvador is the home to 500 different species of birds and a rare species of black hawk eagle. In the 505-hectare area of the national park, you can explore three volcanoes.

33. There are a total of five national parks in the country. Their names are: Montecristo, El Boqueron, Conchagua, El Impossible and Cerro Verde.

The challenges

34. The majority of El Salvador’s poor population lives in the countryside. These people face challenges related to the availability of running water and electricity in their homes. However, the wealthy people of the country live in apartments and houses.

35. Rural people are prone to malnutrition, which is also a leading cause of death among the poor in the country.

36. Sadly, the country has the lowest birth rate and the highest death rate in all of Central America.

Economy of El Salvador

37. The country’s minimum wage is US $100-250 a month.

38. The white colored stripes on the country’s flag symbolize peace, and the Blue stripes symbolize unity. The country officially adopted its flag in 1910.

39. The United States houses approximately three million Salvadorans. These people live in the U.S. for work and send money back home to support their families.

40. Coffee exports accounted for 90% of the country’s earnings by the early 20th century. However, the country has diversified its income sources by establishing a manufacturing sector in its territory, and building trade and financial links with other countries.

41. Do not be surprised to learn that it is the third-largest economy in Central America, only outranked by Costa Rica and Panama.

Associated People

42. The parents of Tennis Hall of Famer Rosie Casals emigrated from El Salvador to the United States.

43. American super model Christy Turlington also has roots in El Salvador.

44. Pope John Paul II also visited the country many a time prior to his illness.

45. The civil war in the country took place from 1980 to 1992. During the period, almost 75,000 lives were lost. Economic inequality was the reason for the war.

Clasica de El Tazumal (El Salvador, C. A.)
Tazumal is a Pre-Columbian Maya archeological site in Chalchuapa, El Salvador. Tazumal means, “the place where the victims were burned,” in K’iche’. Image credit – Otto (Rodriguez)

Facts that make El Salvador stand out among other Central American countries

46. San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, has the biggest shopping center in all of Central America. It is also famous for its many museums and cultural sites.

47. The country also houses the largest airport in all of Central America.

48. Salvadoran countrymen were involved in an infamous “100 Hour War” with neighboring Honduras in 1969, after a soccer game.

49. It is estimated that Qatar’s 2022 World Cup will take more lives than 9/11 due to horrible working conditions for migrant workers building stadiums and infrastructure.

50. El Salvador is also known as “the land of Volcanoes.” It has more than 20 volcanoes, and the Chaparrastique is considered to be the most active volcano in the region. It has erupted 26 times in the last 500 years.

The most active volcano in the region - Chaparrastique.
The most active volcano in the region – Chaparrastique. Image credit – Victor Castro

51. The only UNESCO World Heritage Site in El Salvador is Joya de Cerén. The remains of a pre-hispanic farming village that was covered by a volcanic eruption in the seventh century AD can be found in the site. It is also called the “Pompeii of the Americas.”

52. The film Salvador was also released on the subject of the 12-year civil war. Interestingly, the movie was also nominated for Oscars.

Interesting facts about El Salvador’s culture

53. The people of El Salvador are friendly, warm and hospitable.

54. It is a tradition in El Salvador for women to often pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder instead of shaking hands.

55. This is how they great each other depending on the time of the day: “buenos dias”(good morning), “buenas tardes” (good afternoon) or “buenas noches” (good evening).

56. The use of first names is usually reserved for family and friends.

57. The 15th birthday of a young girl is widely celebrated, and is an important event in her — and her family’s — life.

58. El Salvador’s most notable dish is the “Pupusa,” a thick handmade corn flour or rice flour tortilla.

59. Tortillas, rice and beans are the main foods in El Salvador.

60. Salvadorans like to receive perfumes as gifts.

61. Food is always eaten with utensils. Yeah, they use forks for eating fruits, too!

62. Salvadorans have a strong sense of personal pride, honor and dignity.

Learn more about trade and craft in El Salvador with this link.

El Salvador facts

Capital CitySan Salvador
13°40′N 89°10′W
Largest CitySan Salvador
13°40′N 89°10′W
Total area21,041 sq km
Population6,141,350 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageSpanish
BordersGuatemala and Honduras
CurrencyUSD (US Dollar)
ReligionChristianity and others
Life expectancy74.42 years
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Terrainmostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau
Climatetropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on coast; temperate in uplands
Natural resourceshydropower, geothermal power, petroleum, arable land
Agricultural land74.7%
Birth rate16.46 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate5.69 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.93 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Government typepresidential republic
Independence15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National symbolturquoise-browed motmot (bird); national colors: blue, white
National anthem"Himno Nacional de El Salvador" (National Anthem of El Salvador)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$8,300 (2015 est.)
Industriesfood processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals
Exports$4.489 billion (2015 est.)
offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, textiles and apparel, gold, ethanol, chemicals, electricity, iron and steel manufactures
Imports$9.213 billion (2015 est.)
raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity
Internet country code.sv
Internet users1.653 million
percent of population: 26.9% (July 2015 est.)
Time ZoneCST (UTC−6)
Calling Code+503
Drives on theRight