[Country map of El Salvador]

El Salvador


Location: Middle America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total area: 21,040 sq km
land area: 20,720 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Massachusetts

Land boundaries: total 545 km, Guatemala 203 km, Honduras 342 km

Coastline: 307 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

International disputes: land boundary dispute with Honduras mostly resolved by 11 September 1992 International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision; with respect to the maritime boundary in the Golfo de Fonseca, ICJ referred to an earlier agreement in this century and advised that some tripartite resolution among El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua likely would be required

Climate: tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April)

Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau

Natural resources: hydropower, geothermal power, petroleum

Land use:
arable land: 27%
permanent crops: 8%
meadows and pastures: 29%
forest and woodland: 6%
other: 30%

Irrigated land: 1,200 sq km (1989)

current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; contamination of soils from disposal of toxic wastes
natural hazards: known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes very destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Climate Change, Law of the Sea

Note: smallest Central American country and only one without a coastline on Caribbean Sea


Population: 5,870,481 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 40% (female 1,165,152; male 1,200,759)
15-64 years: 56% (female 1,677,958; male 1,602,230)
65 years and over: 4% (female 122,368; male 102,014) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.02% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 32.39 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 6.19 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -5.96 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 38.9 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.5 years
male: 64.89 years
female: 70.23 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.69 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Salvadoran(s)
adjective: Salvadoran

Ethnic divisions: mestizo 94%, Indian 5%, white 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 75%
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

Languages: Spanish, Nahua (among some Indians)

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 73%
male: 76%
female: 70%

Labor force: 1.7 million (1982 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 40%, commerce 16%, manufacturing 15%, government 13%, financial services 9%, transportation 6%, other 1%
note: shortage of skilled labor and a large pool of unskilled labor, but training programs improving situation (1984 est.)


conventional long form: Republic of El Salvador
conventional short form: El Salvador
local long form: Republica de El Salvador
local short form: El Salvador

Digraph: ES

Type: republic

Capital: 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

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution: 20 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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President Armando CALDERON SOL (since 1 June 1994); Vice President Enrique BORGO Bustamante (since 1 June 1994) election last held 20 March 1994 (next to be held March 1999); results - Armando CALDERON SOL (ARENA) 49.03%, Ruben ZAMORA Rivas (CD/FMLN/MNR) 24.09%, Fidel CHAVEZ Mena (PDC) 16.39%, other 10.49%; because no candidate received a majority, a run-off election was held 24 April 1994; results - Armando CALDERON SOL (ARENA) 68.35%, Ruben ZAMORA Rivas (CD/FMLN/MNR) 31.65%
cabinet: Council of Ministers

Legislative branch: unicameral
Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa): elections last held 20 March 1994 (next to be held March 1997); results - ARENA 46.4%, FMLN 25.0%, PDC 21.4%, PCN 4.8%, other 2.4%; seats - (84 total) ARENA 39, FMLN 21, PDC 18, PCN 4, other 2

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema)

Political parties and leaders: National Republican Alliance (ARENA), Juan Jose DOMENECH, president; Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), Salvador SANCHEZ Ceren (aka Leonel GONZALEZ), general coordinator; Christian Democratic Party (PDC), Ronal UMANA, secretary general; National Conciliation Party (PCN), Ciro CRUZ Zepeda, secretary general; Democratic Convergence (CD), Juan Jose MARTEL, secretary general; Unity Movement, Jorge MARTINEZ Menendez, president
note: newly formed parties not yet officially recognized by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal: Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), Kirio Waldo SALGADO, founder; Social Democratic Party (breakaway from FMLN), Joaquin VILLALOBOS, founder; Social Christian Renovation Movement (MRSC) (breakaway from PDC), Abraham RODRIGUEZ, founder

Other political or pressure groups:
labor organizations: Salvadoran Communal Union (UCS), peasant association; General Confederation of Workers (CGT), moderate; United Workers Front (FUT)
business organizations: Productive Alliance (AP), conservative; National Federation of Salvadoran Small Businessmen (FENAPES), conservative


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ana Cristina SOL
chancery: 2308 California Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-9671, 9672
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Alan H. FLANIGAN
embassy: Final Boulevard, Station Antiguo Cuscatlan, San Salvador
mailing address: Unit 3116, San Salvador; APO AA 34023
telephone: [503] 78-4444
FAX: [503] 78-6011

Flag: 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


Overview: The agricultural sector accounts for 24% of GDP, employs about 40% of the labor force, and contributes about 66% to total exports. Coffee is the major commercial crop, accounting for 45% of export earnings. The manufacturing sector, based largely on food and beverage processing, accounts for 19% of GDP and 15% of employment. In 1992-94 the government made substantial progress toward privatization and deregulation of the economy. Growth in national output in 1991-94 nearly averaged 5%, exceeding growth in population for the first time since 1987; and inflation in 1994 of 10% was down from 19% in 1993.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $9.8 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $1,710 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 6.7% (1993)

revenues: $846 million
expenditures: $890 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1992 est.)

Exports: $823 million (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: coffee, sugarcane, shrimp
partners: US, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Germany

Imports: $2.1 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
commodities: raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods
partners: US, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, Germany

External debt: $2.6 billion (December 1992)

Industrial production: growth rate 7.6% (1993)

capacity: 750,000 kW
production: 2.4 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 408 kWh (1993)

Industries: food processing, beverages, petroleum, nonmetallic products, tobacco, chemicals, textiles, furniture

Agriculture: accounts for 24% of GDP and 40% of labor force (including fishing and forestry); coffee most important commercial crop; other products - sugarcane, corn, rice, beans, oilseeds, beef, dairy products, shrimp; not self-sufficient in food

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine; marijuana produced for local consumption

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-90), $2.95 billion (plus $250 million for 1992-96); Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $525 million

Currency: 1 Salvadoran colon (C) = 100 centavos

Exchange rates: Salvadoran colones (C) per US$1 - 8.760 (January 1995), 8.750 (1994), 8.670 (1993), 8.4500 (1992), 8.080 (1991), 8.0300 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 602 km (single track; note - some sections abandoned, unusable, or operating at reduced capacity)
narrow gauge: 602 km 0.914-m gauge

total: 10,000 km
paved: 1,500 km
unpaved: gravel 4,100 km; improved, unimproved earth 4,400 km

Inland waterways: Rio Lempa partially navigable

Ports: Acajutla, Puerto Cutuco, La Libertad, La Union, Puerto El Triunfo

Merchant marine: none

total: 106
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 2
with paved runways under 914 m: 78
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 23


Telephone system: 116,000 telephones; 21 telephones/1,000 persons
local: NA
intercity: nationwide microwave radio relay system
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station; connected to Central American Microwave System

broadcast stations: AM 77, FM 0, shortwave 2
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 5
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 1,393,480; males fit for military service 892,958; males reach military age (18) annually 77,562 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $103 million, 0.7% of GDP (1994); $91.9 million, less than 1% of GDP (1995 est.)