Fast Facts

San Salvador; 1,424,000
21,041 square kilometers (8,124 square miles)
Spanish, Nahua
Roman Catholic, Evangelical
U.S. dollar
Life Expectancy:
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $4,600
Literacy Percent:
Flag: El Salvador
Map: El Salvador

The smallest and most densely populated country in Central America, El Salvador adjoins the Pacific in a narrow coastal plain, backed by a volcanic mountain chain, and a fertile plateau. About 90 percent of Salvadorans are mestizo; 9 percent claim Spanish descent. The rich volcanic soils brought coffee plantations—with a few, rich landowners and a subjugated peasant population. Economic inequality led to the 1980-1992 civil war; many Salvadorans, rich and poor, fled to the United States. El Salvador's democratic government shows success in adding manufacturing jobs—but faces the challenges of poverty, crime, and natural disasters.


  • Industry: Food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals
  • Agriculture: Coffee, sugar, corn, rice; shrimp; beef
  • Exports: Offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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