El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country as well as Central America. El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean on the southSony PCG-71313M battery, and the countries of Guatemala to the west and Honduras to the north and east. Its easternmost region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca, opposite Nicaragua. As of 2009, El Salvador had a population of approximately 5,744,113 people, composed predominantly of Mestizos.
The colón was the official currency of El Salvador from 1892 to 2001, when it adopted the U.S. DollarSony PCG-71212M battery.
In 2010 El Salvador ranked in the top 10 among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and in the top 3 in Central America (behind Costa Rica and Panama), due in part to ongoing rapid industrialization. In addition, tropical forests and overall forest cover has expanded by nearly 20% from the year 1992 to 2010, making it one of the few countries experiencing reforestationSony PCG-71311M battery.
Temazcal in Joya de Ceren
El Salvador's origins of human civilization date back to the Pipil people of Cuzcatlán, which means The Place of Precious Diamonds and Jewels. The people of El Salvador are variably referred to as Salvadoran, while the term Cuzcatleco is commonly used to identify someone of Salvadoran heritageSony PCG-71213M battery.
In pre-Columbian times the territory was inhabited by various Native American peoples, including the Pipil, a Nahuatl-speaking population that occupied the central and western regions of the territory, and the Lenca, who settled in the east of the country. The larger domain until the Spanish conquest of the kingdom was Cuzcatlán. The Mayan civilization which inhabited El Salvador has left ruins such as those at Tazumal, Joya De Ceren, Sony PCG-61211M battery San Andres, Casa Blanca, Cihuatan, and Chalchuapa.
European Contact (1522)
In 1520 the indigenous population of the territory had been reduced by 80% due to the smallpox epidemic that affected the Mesoamerican area. The Spanish Admiral Andrés Niño led an expedition to Central America and disembarked on Meanguera island, which he named Petronila, in the Gulf of Fonseca, on May 31, 1522Sony VAIO VPCF24Q1E battery. Thereafter he discovered Jiquilisco Bay on the mouth of Lempa River. This was the first known visit by Spaniards to what is now Salvadoran territory.
Conquest of Cuzcatlán
Pedro de Alvarado
Between 1524 and 1525, after participating in the conquest of Mexico, Spanish Conquistadors led by Pedro de Alvarado and his brother Gonzalo crossed the Rio Paz (Peace River) from the area comprising the present Republic of Guatemala into what is now the Republic of El Salvador. The Spaniards were disappointed to discover that the indigenous Pipil people had no gold or jewels like those they had found in Guatemala or MexicoSony VAIO VPCF13M1E/H battery, but recognized the richness of the verdant land's volcanic soil.
Pedro de Alvarado led the first incursion by Spanish forces to extend their dominion to the nation of Cuzcatlán (El Salvador), in June 1524. On June 8, 1524, the conquerors arrived in the neighborhood of Acajutla at a village called Acaxual. There, according to records, a battle ensued between the opposing armies, with the Pipil wearing cotton armorSony VAIO VPCF12Z1E/BI battery (of three fingers' thickness, according to Alvarado) and carrying long lances. This circumstance would be crucial in the progression of the battle. Alvarado approached the Pipil lines with his archers' showers of crossbow arrows, but the natives did not retreat. The conquistador noticed the proximity of a nearby hill and knew that it could be a convenient hiding place for his opponentsSony VAIO VPCF12S1E/B battery. Alvarado pretended that his army had given up the battle and retreated. The Pipil suddenly rushed the invaders, giving Alvarado an opportunity to inflict massive losses. The Pipil warriors who fell to the ground could not get back on their feet, hindered by the weight of their cotton armor, which enabled the Spanish to slaughter themSony VAIO VPCF13Z8E/BI battery.
In the words of Alvarado: "...the destruction was so great that in just a short time there were none which were left alive...". However, Alvarado's army were not completely unscathed. In the battle Alvarado himself was struck by a sling shot to his thigh which fractured his femur bone. According to local tradition the stone that hit the conquistador was hurled by a Pipil "Tatoni" Sony VAIO VPCF13Z8E battery (a prince) called Atonal. The resultant infection lasted about eight months and left Alvarado partially crippled. In spite of this wound, he continued the conquest campaign with relish.
Tazumal ruins in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
The Spanish efforts were firmly resisted by the indigenous people, including the Pipil and their Mayan-speaking neighbors. Despite Alvarado's initial success in the Battle of Acajutla, the people of Cuzcatlán, who according to tradition were led by a warlord called Atlacatl, defeated the Spaniards and what was left of their Mexican Tlaxcala Indian alliesSony VAIO VPCF13M1E/B battery, forcing them to withdraw to Guatemala. There, Pedro de Alvarado was again wounded, this time on his left thigh, which left him handicapped for the rest of his life. He abandoned the war and appointed his brother, Gonzalo de Alvarado, to continue the task. It took two subsequent expeditions (the first in 1525, followed by a smaller group in 1528) to bring the Pipil under Spanish controlSony VAIO VPCF1318E/H battery. In 1525, the conquest of Cuzcatlán was completed and the city of San Salvador was established. The Spanish faced much resistance from the Pipil and were not able to reach eastern El Salvador, the area of the Lencas.
Finally, with reinforcements, in 1526 the Spanish established the garrison town of San Miguel, headed by another explorer and conquistador, Luis de Moscoso Alvarado, nephew of Pedro AlvaradoSony VAIO VPCF13J0E/H battery. A Maya-Lenca woman, crown Princess Antu Silan Ulap I, daughter of Asisilcan Nachan I and Lady Omomatku, Monarch of the Lencas, organized resistance to the domination of the gold- and profit-hungry Conquistadors. The Lenca kingdom was alarmed by de Moscoso's invasion, and Antu Silan dealt with it by going from village to village, uniting all the Lenca towns in present-day El Salvador and Honduras against the SpaniardsSony VAIO VPCF13E8E battery. Through surprise attacks and their overwhelming numbers, they were able to drive the Spanish out of San Miguel and destroy the garrison.
For ten years, the Lencas prevented the Spanish from building a permanent settlement. Then the Spanish returned with more soldiers, including about 2,000 forced conscripts from indigenous communities in Guatemala. Sony VAIO VPCF13E4E battery They pursued the Lenca leaders further up into the mountains of Intibucá. Antu Silan Ulap continued leading the united forces until, late in pregnancy, she slipped out of the conflicted area to a safe haven, Tihuilotal, where she gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy. Their father was Prince Salaiki Kanul from Sesori. The daughter became Atonim Silan I – she and her twin and another brother lived in the mountains near the lake Olomega and MaquigueSony VAIO VPCF12M1E/H battery – in this way they escaped the Spanish and their allies who were hunting them. Tihuilotal is a little southwest of the present city of La Unión, near the source of the sacred Managuara River.
Antu Silan Ulap eventually handed over control of the Lenca resistance to Lempira (also called Empira). Lempira was noteworthy among indigenous leaders in that he mocked the Spanish by wearing their clothes after capturing them and using their weapons captured in battleSony VAIO VPCF12F4E/H battery. Lempira fought in command of thousands of Lenca forces for six more years in El Salvador and Honduras until he was killed in battle. The remaining Lenca forces retreated into the hills. The Spanish were then able to rebuild their garrison town of San Miguel in 1537.
Spanish rule (colonization) and independence
Painting of the First Independence Movement celebration in San Salvador. At the center, José Matías DelgadoSony VAIO VPCF12E1E/H battery.
Manuel José Arce joined the movement for independence from Spain, joining in the first Cry for Independence on November 5, 1811 in San Salvador.
In the early sixteenth century, the Spanish conquistadors ventured into the natural harbors to extend their dominion to the area. They called the land "Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, El Salvador Del Mundo" ("Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World"), which was subsequently abbreviated to "El Salvador (The Savior)" Sony VAIO VPCF11Z1E/BI battery.
During the colonial period, El Salvador was part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala (Spanish: Reino de Guatemala), created in 1609 as an administrative division of New Spain. The Salvadoran territory was administered by the Mayor of Sonsonate, with San Salvador being established as an intendancia in 1786Sony VAIO VPCF24M1E battery.
Towards the end of 1811, a combination of internal and external factors motivated Central American elites to attempt to gain independence from the Spanish Crown. The most important internal factors were the desire of local elites to control the country's affairs free of involvement from Spanish authorities, and the Creoles' long-standing aspiration for independenceSony VAIO VPCF23S1E battery. The main external factors motivating the independence movement were the success of the French and American revolutions in the eighteenth century, and the weakening of the Spanish Crown's military power as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, with the resulting inability to control its colonies effectivelySony VAIO VPCF231S1E battery.
On 5 November 1811, Salvadoran priest José Matías Delgado rang the bells of Iglesia La Merced in San Salvador, calling for insurrection and launching the 1811 Independence Movement. This insurrection was suppressed and many of its leaders were arrested and served sentences in jail. Another insurrection was launched in 1814, and again it was suppressedSony VAIO VPCF23Q1E battery. Finally, on September 15, 1821, in light of unrest in Guatemala, Spanish authorities capitulated and signed the Acta de Independencia (Deed of Independence) which released all of the Captaincy of Guatemala (comprising current territories of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the Mexican state of Chiapas) from Spanish rule and declared its independenceSony VAIO VPCF23M1E battery. In 1821, El Salvador joined Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in a union named the Federal Republic of Central America.
In early 1822, the authorities of the newly independent Central American provinces, meeting in Guatemala City, voted to join the newly constituted First Mexican Empire under Agustín de Iturbide. El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countriesSony VAIO VPCF22S8E battery. A Mexican military detachment marched to San Salvador and suppressed dissent, but with the fall of Iturbide on 19 March 1823, the army decamped back to Mexico. Shortly thereafter, the authorities of the provinces revoked the vote for joining Mexico, deciding instead to form a federal union of the five remaining provinces. (Chiapas permanently joined Mexico at this juncture.) Sony VAIO VPCF22S1E battery
When the Federal Republic of Central America dissolved in 1841, El Salvador maintained its own government until it joined Honduras and Nicaragua in 1896 to form the Greater Republic of Central America, which later dissolved in 1898.
After the mid-19th century, the economy was based on coffee growing and, as the world market for indigo withered away, prospered or suffered as the world coffee price fluctuatedSony VAIO VPCF22M1E battery. The enormous profits that coffee yielded as a monoculture export served as an impetus for the concentration of land in the hands of an oligarchy of just a few families.
Throughout the last half of the 19th century, a succession of presidents from the ranks of the Salvadoran oligarchy, nominally both conservative and liberal, generally agreed on the promotion of coffee as the predominant cash cropSony VAIO VPCF22L1E battery, the development of infrastructure (railroads and port facilities) primarily in support of the coffee trade, the elimination of communal landholdings to facilitate further coffee production, the passage of anti-vagrancy laws to ensure that displaced campesinos and other rural residents provided sufficient labor for the coffee fincas (plantations), and the suppression of rural discontent. In 1912, the national guard was created as a rural police forceSony VAIO VPCF22J1E battery.
Gen. Tomás Regalado
In 1898, Gen. Tomas Regalado gained power by force, deposing Rafael Antonio Gutiérrez and ruling as president until 1903. Once in office he revived the practice of designating presidential successors. After serving his term, he remained active in the Army of El Salvador, and was killed July 11, 1906, at El Jicaro during a war against GuatemalaSony VAIO VPCF11S1E/B battery. Until 1913 El Salvador was politically stable, but there were undercurrents of popular discontent. When President Dr. Manuel Enrique Araujo was killed in 1913, there were many hypotheses advanced for the political motive of his murder.
Dios, Union, Libertad (God, Unity, Liberty) El Salvador 1912 Flag.
Araujo's administration was followed by the Melendez-Quinonez dynasty that lasted from 1913 to 1927. Pio Romero BosqueSony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H battery, ex-Minister of the Government and a trusted collaborator of the dynasty, succeeded President Jorge Melendez and in 1930 announced free elections, in which Arturo Araujo came to power on March 1, 1931. His government lasted only nine months, as his Labor Party lacked political and governmental experience and many party members used their government offices inefficiently. President Araujo faced general popular discontentSony VAIO VPCF11D4E battery, as the people expected economic reforms and the redistribution of land. There were demonstrations in front of the National Palace from the first week of his administration. His vice president and Minister of War was Gen. Maximiliano Hernández Martínez and his National Police Director was Rochac—his brother-in-lawSony VAIO VPCF11C5E battery.
In December 1931 a coup d'état was organized by junior officers and led by Gen. Martínez; the first strike started in the First Regiment of Infantry across from the National Palace in downtown San Salvador. Only the First Regiment of Cavalry and the National Police defended the President (the National Police had been on its payroll), but later that night, after hours of fighting, the badly outnumbered defenders surrendered to the rebel forcesSony VAIO VPCF11C4E/B battery.
The Directorate, composed of officers, hid behind a shadowy figure, a rich anti-Communist banker called Rodolfo Duke, and later installed the ardent fascist Gen. Martínez as president. The causes of the revolt were probably due to the army's discontent at not having been paid by President Araujo for some months. Araujo left the National Palace and later unsuccessfully tried to organize forces to defeat the revoltSony VAIO PCG-31114M battery.
The U.S. Minister in El Salvador met with the Directorate and later recognized the government of Martínez, who agreed to hold presidential elections later. He resigned in 1934, six months before the presidential elections, to run for the presidency, which he won—not a difficult achievement, seeing as he was the only candidate. He ruled from 1935 to 1939, then from 1939 to 1943Sony VAIO PCG-31113M battery. He began a fourth term in 1944, but resigned in May after a general strike. Martínez had said he was going to respect the Constitution, which stipulated he could not be re-elected, but he refused to keep his promise.
From December 1931, the year of the coup in which Martínez came to power, there was brutal suppression of the rural resistanceSony VAIO PCG-31112M battery. The most notable event was the February 1932 Salvadoran peasant uprising, led by Farabundo Martí and Abel Cuenca, and university students Alfonso Luna and Mario Zapata. Only Cuenca survived; the other insurgents were killed by the government. It was later referred to as La Matanza (The Massacre), because tens of thousands of peasants were slaughtered on the orders of President MartinezSony VAIO PCG-31111M battery.
In the unstable political climate of the previous few years, the social activist and revolutionary leader Farabundo Martí helped found the Communist Party of Central America, and led a Communist alternative to the Red Cross called International Red Aid, serving as one of its representatives. Their goal was to help poor and underprivileged Salvadorans through the use of Marxist-Leninist ideology (strongly rejecting Stalinism) Sony VAIO PCG-41112M battery. In December 1930, at the height of the country's economic and social depression, Martí was once again exiled due to his popularity among the nation's poor and rumors of his upcoming nomination for President the following year. Once Arturo Araujo was elected president in 1931, Martí returned to El Salvador, and along with Alfonso Luna and Mario Zapata began the movement that was later truncated by the militarySony VAIO PCG-41111M battery.
They helped start a guerrilla revolt of indigenous farmers. The government responded by killing over 30,000 people at what was to have been a "peaceful meeting" in 1932; this became known as La Matanza (The Slaughter). The peasant uprising against Martínez was crushed by the Salvadoran military ten days after it had begun. The Communist-led rebellionSONY VAIO PCG-21212M battery, fomented by collapsing coffee prices, enjoyed some initial success, but was soon drowned in a bloodbath. President Martínez, who had himself toppled an elected government only weeks earlier, ordered the defeated Martí shot after a perfunctory hearing.
Historically, the high Salvadoran population density has contributed to tensions with neighboring Honduras, as land-poor Salvadorans emigrated to less densely populated Honduras and established themselves as squatters on unused or underused landSONY VAIO PCG-21211M battery. This phenomenon was a major cause of the 1969 Football War between the two countries. As many as 130,000 Salvadorans had been forcibly expelled or had fled from Honduras.
The PDC and the PCN parties
José Napoleón Duarte
In 1960 two political parties were born and are still active in El Salvadoran politics: the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) and the National Conciliation Party (PCN). Both share common ideals, but one represents the middle class and the latter the interests of the Salvadoran militarySONY VAIO PCG-51212M battery.
Opposition leader José Napoleón Duarte from the PDC was the mayor of San Salvador from 1964 to 1970, winning three elections during the regime of President Jose Adalberto Rivera (who allowed free elections for mayors and the National Assembly). Duarte later ran for president with a political grouping called the National Opposition Union (UNO) but was defeated in the 1972 presidential electionsSONY VAIO PCG-51211M battery. He lost to the ex-Minister of Interior, Col. Arturo Armando Molina, in an election that was widely viewed as fraudulent; Molina was declared the winner even though Duarte was said to have received a majority of the votes. Duarte, at some army officers' request, supported a revolt to protest the election fraud, but was captured, tortured and later exiled. Duarte returned to the country in 1979 to enter politics after working on projects in Venezuela as an engineerSONY VAIO PCG-51112M battery.
The October 1979 coup d'état
In October 1979 a coup d'état brought the Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador to power. It nationalized many private companies and took over much privately owned land. The purpose of this new junta was to stop the revolutionary movement already underway in response to Duarte's stolen election. Nevertheless, the oligarchy opposed agrarian reformSONY VAIO PCG-51111M battery, and a junta formed with young liberal elements from the army such as Gen. Majano and Gen. Gutierrez, as well as with progressives such as Ungo and Alvarez.
Owing to pressure from the oligarchy, this junta was soon dissolved because of its inability to control the army in its repression of the people fighting for unionization rights, agrarian reform, better wages, accessible health care and freedom of expressionSONY VAIO PCG-81212M battery. In the meantime, the guerrilla movement was spreading to all sectors of Salvadoran society. Middle and high school students were organized in MERS (Movimiento Estudiantil Revolucionario de Secundaria, Revolutionary Movement of Secondary Students); college students were involved with AGEUS (Asociacion de Estudiantes Universitarios Salvadorenos; Association of Salvadoran College Students); and workers were organized in BPR (Bloque Popular Revolucionario, Popular Revolutionary Block) Sony VAIO PCG-81112M battery.
The U.S. supported and financed the creation of a second junta to change the political environment and stop the spread of a leftist insurrection. Napoleon Duarte was recalled from his exile in Venezuela to head this new junta. However, a revolution was already underway and his new role as head of the junta was seen by the general population as opportunisticSONY VAIO PCG-71111M battery. He was unable to influence the outcome of the insurrection. Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador denounced injustices and massacres committed against the civilians by the government in turn. He was the voice of the voiceless. But, Monsignor Romero was executed by a death squad in January 1980 and this was the beginning of the Salvadoran Civil War in full which lasted from 1980 to 1992SONY VAIO PCG-7196M battery.
A reconstruction of Radio Venceremos, at the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, San Salvador
On January 16, 1992, the government of El Salvador, represented by president Alfredo Cristiani, and the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), represented by the commanders of the five guerrilla groups – Shafick HandalSONY VAIO PCG-7195M battery, Joaquin Villalobos, Salvador Sánchez Ceren, Francisco Jovel and Eduardo Sancho, all signed the peace agreements brokered by the United Nations which ended the 12-year civil war. This event, held at the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico, was attended by U.N. dignitaries and other representatives of the international community. After signing the armistice, the president stood up and shook hands with all the now ex-guerrilla commandersSONY VAIO PCG-7194M battery, an action which was widely admired.
The so-called Mexico Peace Agreements mandated reductions in the size of the army, and the dissolution of the National Police, the Treasury Police, the National Guard and the Civilian Defense, a paramilitary group. A new Civil Police was to be organized. Judicial immunity for crimes committed by the armed forces endedSONY VAIO PCG-7192M battery; the government agreed to submit to the recommendations of a Commission on the Truth for El Salvador (Comisión de la Verdad Para El Salvador), which would "investigate serious acts of violence occurring since 1980, and the nature and effects of the violence, and...recommend methods of promoting national reconciliationSONY PCG-8113M battery."
End of the 20th century
From 1989 until 2004, Salvadorans favored the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, voting in ARENA presidents in every election (Alfredo Cristiani, Armando Calderón Sol, Francisco Flores Pérez, Antonio Saca) until 2009, when Mauricio Funes was elected president from the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) partySONY PCG-8112M battery .
Economic reforms since the early 1990s have brought major benefits in terms of improved social conditions, diversification of its export sector, and access to international financial markets at investment grade level. However, crime remains a major problem for the investment climate.
This all ended in 2001, and support for ARENA weakened. Internal turmoil in ARENA weakened the party, while the FMLN united and broadened its support. SONY PCG-7134M battery
The unsuccessful attempts of the left-wing party to win presidential elections led to its selection of a journalist rather than a former guerrilla leader as a candidate. On March 15, 2009, Mauricio Funes, a television figure, became the first president from the FMLN party. He was inaugurated on June 1, 2009. One focus of the Funes government has been revealing the alleged corruption from the past government. SONY PCG-7131M battery
ARENA formally expelled Saca from the party in December, 2009. With 12 loyalists in the National Assembly, Saca established his own party, GANA (Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional or Grand Alliance for National Unity), and entered into a tactical legislative alliance with the FMLN. After three years in office, with Saca's GANA party providing the FMLN with a legislative majority, Funes had not taken action to investigate or to bring corrupt former officials to justiceSONY PCG-7122M battery.
Main article: Geography of El Salvador
The topography of El Salvador.
El Salvador lies in the isthmus of Central America between latitudes 13° and 15°N, and longitudes 87° and 91°W. It stretches 168 miles (270 km) from west-northwest to east-southeast and 88 miles (142 km) north to south, with a total area of 8,123 miles (13,073 km), about the size of Massachusetts or Wales. As the smallest country in continental AmericaSONY PCG-7121M battery, El Salvador is affectionately called Pulgarcito de America (the "Tom Thumb of the Americas"). The highest point in the country is Cerro El Pital, at 8,957 feet (2,730 m), on the border with Honduras.
El Salvador has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. San Salvador was destroyed in 1756 and 1854, and it suffered heavy damage in the 1919, 1982, and 1986 tremorsSONY PCG-7113M battery. The country has over twenty volcanoes, although only two, San Miguel and Izalco, have been active in recent years. From the early nineteenth century to the mid 1950s, Izalco erupted with a regularity that earned it the name "Lighthouse of the Pacific." Its brilliant flares were clearly visible for great distances at sea, and at night its glowing lava turned it into a brilliant luminous coneSONY PCG-7112M battery.
El Salvador has over 300 rivers, the most important of which is the Rio Lempa. Originating in Guatemala, the Rio Lempa cuts across the northern range of mountains, flows along much of the central plateau, and finally cuts through the southern volcanic range to empty into the Pacific. It is El Salvador's only navigable river; it and its tributaries drain about half the countrySONY PCG-8Z3M battery. Other rivers are generally short and drain the Pacific lowlands or flow from the central plateau through gaps in the southern mountain range to the Pacific. These include the Goascorán, Jiboa, Torola, Paz and the Río Grande de San Miguel.
The Coatepeque Caldera.
There are several lakes enclosed by volcanic craters in the country, the most important of which are Lake Ilopango (70 km²/27 sq mi) and Lake Coatepeque (26 km²/10 sq mi) SONY PCG-8Z2M battery. Lake Güija is El Salvador's largest natural lake (44 km²/17 sq mi). Several artificial lakes were created by the damming of the Lempa, the largest of which is Embalse Cerrón Grande (135 km²). There are a total 123.6 square miles (320 km2) of water within El Salvador's borders.
El Salvador shares those borders with Guatemala and Honduras, the total national boundary length is 339 miles (546 km): SONY PCG-8Z1M battery 126 miles (203 km) with Guatemala and 213 miles (343 km) with Honduras. It is the only Central American country that has no Caribbean coastline; the coastline on the Pacific is 191 miles (307 km) long.
Two parallel mountain ranges cross El Salvador to the west with a central plateau between them and a narrow coastal plain hugging the Pacific. These physical features divide the country into two physiographic regions. The mountain ranges and central plateauSONY PCG-8Y3M battery , covering 85% of the land, comprise the interior highlands. The remaining coastal plains are referred to as the Pacific lowlands.
Main article: Climate of El Salvador
Playa La Libertad, Liberty Beach.
El Salvador has a tropical climate with pronounced wet and dry seasons. Temperatures vary primarily with elevation and show little seasonal change. The Pacific lowlands are uniformly hot; the central plateau and mountain areas are more moderate. The rainy season extends from May to October; this time of year is referred to as invierno or winterSONY PCG-8Y2M battery . Almost all the annual rainfall occurs during this period; yearly totals, particularly on southern-facing mountain slopes, can be as high as 2,170 millimetres (85.4 in).
The best time to visit El Salvador would be at the beginning or end of the dry season. Protected areas and the central plateau receive less, although still significant, amounts. Rainfall during this season generally comes from low pressure systems formed over the Pacific and usually falls in heavy afternoon thunderstormsSONY PCG-7Z1M battery. Hurricanes occasionally form in the Pacific with the notable exception of Hurricane Mitch, which formed in the Atlantic and crossed Central America.
From November through April, the northeast trade winds control weather patterns; this time of year is referred to as verano, or summer. During these months, air flowing from the Caribbean has lost most of its precipitation while passing over the mountains in HondurasSONY PCG-6W2M battery. By the time this air reaches El Salvador, it is dry, hot, and hazy, and the country experiences hot weather, excluding the northern higher mountain ranges, where temperatures will be cool. In the extreme northeastern part of the country near Cerro El Pital, snow is known to fall during summer as well as during winter due to the high elevations (it is the coldest part of the country) SONY PCG-5J5M battery .
Biodiversity and endangered species
The Torogoz is El Salvador's national bird.
There are eight species of sea turtles in the world; six of them nest on the coasts of Central America, and four make their home on the Salvadoran coast: the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), the Green Sea turtle (Chelonia agasizzii) and the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) SONY PCG-5K2M battery.
Of these four species, the most common is the Olive Ridley turtle, followed by the brown (black) turtle. The other two species, Hawksbill and Leatherback, are much more difficult to find as they are critically endangered, while the Olive Ridley and brown (black) turtle are in danger of extinctionSONY PCG-5K1M battery .
Recent conservation efforts provide hope for the future of the country's biological diversity. In 1997, the government established the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources. A general environmental framework law was approved by the National Assembly in 1999. Specific legislation to protect wildlife is still pendingSONY PCG-5J4M battery .
The Ocelot is a native of El Salvador.
In addition, a number of non-governmental organizations are doing important work to safeguard some of the country's most important forested areas. Foremost among these is SalvaNatura, which manages El Impossible, the country's largest national park under an agreement with El Salvador's environmental authoritiesSONY PCG-5J1M battery.
Despite these efforts, much remains to be done.
It is estimated that there are 500 species of birds, 1,000 species of butterflies, 400 species of orchids, 800 species of trees, and 800 species of marine fish in El Salvador.
Cordillera de Apaneca volcanic mountain range in El Salvador.
Usulutan volcano rises above the Pacific coastal plain in El Salvador..
The Izalco Volcano, partially covered by clouds, is a natural draw for tourists.
The Santa Ana Volcano, as seen from a United States Air Force C-130 Hercules flying above El SalvadorSONY PCG-5G2M battery.
El Salvador lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, and is thus subject to significant tectonic activity, including frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. Recent examples include the earthquake on January 13, 2001 that measured 7.7 on the Richter scale and caused a landslide that killed more than 800 people; and another earthquake only a month later, on February 13, 2001Sony VAIO PCG-8131M battery, that killed 255 people and damaged about 20% of the nation's housing. Luckily, many families were able to find safety from the landslides caused by the earthquake.
The San Salvador area has been hit by earthquakes in 1576, 1659, 1798, 1839, 1854, 1873, 1880, 1917, 1919, 1965, 1986, 2001 and 2005. The 5.7 Mw-earthquake of 1986 resulted in 1,500 deaths, 10,000 injuries, and 100,000 people left homeless.
El Salvador's most recent destructive volcanic eruption took place on October 1, 2005, when the Santa Ana Volcano spewed a cloud of ashSony VAIO PCG-8152M battery, hot mud and rocks that fell on nearby villages and caused two deaths. The most severe volcanic eruption in this area occurred in the 5th century AD when the Ilopango volcano erupted with a VEI strength of 6, producing widespread pyroclastic flows and devastating Mayan cities.
El Salvador's position on the Pacific Ocean also makes it subject to severe weather conditions, including heavy rainstorms and severe droughtsSony VAIO PCG-31311M battery, both of which may be made more extreme by the El Niño and La Niña effects. In the summer of 2001, a severe drought destroyed 80% of the country's crops, causing famine in the countryside. On October 4, 2005, severe rains resulted in dangerous flooding and landslides, which caused a minimum of fifty deaths. Sony VAIO PCG-31111M batteryEl Salvador's location in Central America also makes it vulnerable to hurricanes coming off the Caribbean; however, this risk is much less than for other Central American countries.
The Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador is currently dormant; the last eruptions were in 1904 and 2005. Lago de Coatepeque (one of El Salvador's lakes) was created by water filling the caldera that formed after a massive eruptionSony VAIO PCG-8112M battery.
The British Imperial College's El Salvador Project aims to build earthquake-proof buildings in remote areas of the country.
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of El Salvador
Main article: Foreign relations of El Salvador
The 1983 Constitution is the highest legal authority in the country. El Salvador has a democratic and representative government, whose three bodies are:
The Executive Branch, headed by the President of the Republic, who is elected by direct vote and remains in office for five years. He can be elected to only one term. The president has a Cabinet of Ministers whom he appoints, and is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed ForcesSony VAIO PCG-7186M battery.
The Legislative Branch, called El Salvador's Legislative Assembly (unicameral), consisting of 84 deputies.
The Judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court, which is composed of 15 judges, one of them being elected as President of the Judiciary.
The Chapultepec Peace Accords (1992) created the new National Civil Police, the Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights and the Supreme Electoral TribunalSony VAIO PCG-7171M battery. The Peace Accords re-imagined the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) as a political party and redefined the role of the army to be for the defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Accords also removed some security forces who were in command of the army, such as the National Guard, Treasury Police and special battalions that were formed to fight against the insurgency of the 1980sSony VAIO PCG-9Z1M battery.
The political framework of El Salvador is a presidential representative democratic republic with a multiform, multi-party system. The President, currently Mauricio Funes, is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Legislative Assembly. The country also has an independent Judiciary and Supreme CourtSony VAIO PCG-5S1M battery.
Main political parties
Although El Salvador has six political parties, the ones which receive the most votes are the conservative right (ARENA) and the liberal left (FMLN). GANA, PDC, PCN, and CD have not received as many votes, leading some people to believe the country has a two-party system, although alternative parties still exist. Within Salvadoran political cultureSony VAIO PCG-5P1M battery, ARENA is considered right or conservative and the FMLN Party is considered left, split between the dominant Marxist-Leninist faction in the legislature, and the liberal wing led by President Funes.
The departments of the Central region, especially the capital and the coastal regions, known as departamentos rojos, or red departments, are relatively liberal. The departamentos azules, or blue departments in the eastSony VAIO PCG-5N2M battery, western and highland regions are relatively conservative. The winner of the 2009 presidential election, Mauricio Funes belongs to the FMLN party and currently controls the National Assembly.
El Salvador Political Parties (alphabetical order)
Main article: Human rights in El Salvador
Amnesty International has drawn attention to several arrests of police officers for unlawful police killings. Other current issues to gain Amnesty International's attention in the past 10 years include missing children, failure of law enforcement to properly investigate and prosecute crimes against women, and rendering organized labor illegal. Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M battery
See also: Ranked list of Salvadoran departments and Salvadoran Departments by HDI
El Salvador is divided into 14 departments (departamentos), which in turn are subdivided into 262 municipalities (municipios).
Department names and abbreviations for the 14 Salvadoran Departments:
Main article: Economy of El Salvador
The World Trade Center San Salvador.
According to the IMF and CIA World Factbook, El Salvador has the third largest economy in the region, behind Costa Rica and Panama, when comparing nominal Gross Domestic Product and purchasing power GDP El Salvador's GDP per capita stands at US$4,365. Sony VAIO PCG-8161M battery
El Salvador's economy has been hampered at times by natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, by government policies that mandate large economic subsidies, and by official corruption. Subsidies became such a problem that in April, 2012, the International Monetary Fund suspended a $750 million loan to the central governmentSony VAIO PCG-8141M battery. President Funes' chief of cabinet, Alex Segovia, acknowledged that the economy was at the "point of collapse."
Antiguo Cuscatlán has the highest per capita income of all the cities in the country, and is a center of international investment.
GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2008 was estimated at $ 25.895 billion USD. The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 64.1%, followed by the industrial sector at 24.7% (2008 est.). Agriculture represents only 11.2% of GDP (2010 est.) Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M battery
The GDP grew after 1996 at an annual rate that averaged 3.2% real growth. The government committed to free market initiatives, and the 2007 GDP's real growth rate was 4.7%.
In December 1999, net international reserves equaled US $1.8 billion or roughly five months of imports. Having this hard currency buffer to work withSony VAIO PCG-3H1M battery, the Salvadoran government undertook a monetary integration plan beginning January 1, 2001 by which the U.S. dollar became legal tender alongside the Salvadoran colón, and all formal accounting was done in U.S. dollars. Thus, the government has formally limited the implementing of open market monetary policies to influence short-term variables in the economy. As of September 2007, net international reserves stood at $2.42 billionSony VAIO PCG-3F1M battery.
San Salvador, one of the fastest growing capitals in the world.
It has long been a challenge in El Salvador to develop new growth sectors for a more diversified economy. In the past, the country produced gold and silver, but recent attempts to re-open the mining sector, which were expected to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy, collapsed after President Saca shut down the operations of Pacific Rim Mining CorporationSony VAIO PCG-3C1M battery. The U.S.-Canadian company had spent $77 million to discover a gold deposit estimated at 1.4 million troy ounces. President Funes and the FMLN upheld the gold and silver mining ban.
As with other former colonies, El Salvador was considered a mono-export economy (an economy that depended heavily on one type of export) for many years. During colonial times, the Spanish decided that El Salvador would produce and export indigo, but after the invention of synthetic dyes in the 19th century, the newly created modern state turned to coffee as the main exportSony VAIO PCG-9Z2L battery.
San Miguel is an important economic center of El Salvador and home to "Carnival of San Miguel", the biggest festival of entertainment and gastronomy in Central America.
The government has sought to improve the collection of its current revenues, with a focus on indirect taxes. A 10% value-added tax (IVA in Spanish), implemented in September 1992, was raised to 13% in July 1995Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1L battery.
Inflation has been steady and among the lowest in the region. Since 1997 inflation has averaged 3%, with recent years increasing to nearly 5%. As a result of the free trade agreements, from 2000 to 2006, total exports have grown 19% from $2.94 billion to $3.51 billion, and total imports have risen 54% from $4.95 billion to $7.63 billion. This has resulted in a 102% increase in the trade deficit, from $2.01 billion to $4.12 billionSony VAIO PCG-9131L battery.
El Chorreron, El Salvador; tourism is the fastest-growing sector of the Salvadoran economy.
Despite being the smallest country in Central America, El Salvador has the third largest economy, with a per capita income that is roughly two-thirds that of Costa Rica and Panama, but more than double that of Nicaragua. Growth has been modest in recent years, and the economy contracted nearly 3% in 2009. Because of the recent growing and dollarized economySony VAIO PCG-8161L battery, El Salvador is seeing an increase of Central American, South American, and Caribbean immigrants from Guatemalans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Dominicans, Colombians, Venezuelan, Peruvians and Cubans searching for better living opportunities.
El Salvador has promoted an open trade and investment environment, and has embarked on a wave of privatizations extending to telecomSony VAIO PCG-8152L battery, electricity distribution, banking, and pension funds. In late 2006, the government and the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year, $461 million compact to stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty in the country's northern region, the primary conflict zone during the civil war, through investments in education, public services, enterprise development, and transportation infrastructureSony VAIO PCG-8141L battery. With the adoption of the US dollar as its currency in 2001, El Salvador lost control over monetary policy. Any counter-cyclical policy response to the downturn must be through fiscal policy, which is constrained by legislative requirements for a two-thirds majority to approve any international financing.
Remittances from abroad
El Salvador leads the region in remittances per capita, with inflows equivalent to nearly all export income; about a third of all households receive these financial inflowsSony VAIO PCG-8131L battery. Remittances from Salvadorans living and working in the United States, sent to family members in El Salvador, are a major source of foreign income and offset the substantial trade deficit of $4.12 billion. Remittances have increased steadily in the last decade, and reached an all-time high of $3.32 billion in 2006 (an increase of 17% over the previous year). approximately 16.2% of gross domestic product(GDP) Sony VAIO PCG-81312L battery.
Remittances have had positive and negative effects on El Salvador. In 2005, the number of people living in extreme poverty in El Salvador was 20%, according to a United Nations Development Program report. Without remittances, the number of Salvadorans living in extreme poverty would rise to 37%. While Salvadoran education levels have gone up, wage expectations have risen faster than either skills or productivitySony VAIO PCG-81214L battery. For example, some Salvadorans are no longer willing to take jobs that pay them less than what they receive monthly from family members abroad. This has led to an influx of Hondurans and Nicaraguans who are willing to work for the prevailing wage. Also, the local propensity for consumption over investment has increasedSony VAIO PCG-81115L battery.
Money from remittances has also increased prices for certain commodities such as real estate. With much higher wages, many Salvadorans abroad can afford higher prices for houses in El Salvador than local Salvadorans, and thus push up the prices that all Salvadorans must pay.
Free trade agreementsSony VAIO PCG-81114L battery
In 2006, El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA has bolstered exports of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector, which faced Asian competition with the expiration of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 2005. In anticipation of the declines in the apparel sector's competitiveness, the previous administration sought to diversify the economy by promoting the country as a regional distribution and logistics hubSony VAIO PCG-81113L battery, and by promoting tourism investment through tax incentives.
There are a total of 15 free trade zones in El Salvador. El Salvador signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) — negotiated by the five countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic — with the United States in 2004. CAFTA requires that the Salvadoran government adopt policies that foster free tradeSony VAIO PCG-7142L battery. El Salvador has signed free trade agreements with Mexico, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Panama and increased its trade with those countries. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua also are negotiating a free trade agreement with Canada. In October 2007, these four countries and Costa Rica began free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union. Negotiations started in 2006 for a free trade agreement with ColombiaSony VAIO PCG-7141L battery.
Official corruption and anti-business practices
In an analysis of ARENA's electoral defeat in 2009, the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador pointed to official corruption under the Saca administration as a significant reason for public rejection of continued ARENA government. According to a secret diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks, "While the Salvadoran public may be inured to self-serving behavior by politiciansSony VAIO PCG-71111L battery, many in ARENA believe that the brazen manner in which Saca and his people are widely perceived to have used their positions for personal enrichment went beyond the pale. ARENA deputy (and son of controversial ARENA founder) Roberto d'Aubuisson told [a U.S. diplomat] that Saca 'deliberately ignored' his Public Works Minister’s government contract kickbacks schemeSony VAIO PCG-61411L battery, even after the case was revealed in the press. Furthermore, considerable evidence exists, including from U.S. business sources, that the Saca administration pushed laws and selectively enforced regulations with the specific intent to benefit Saca family business interests." 
Subsequent policies under the Saca and Funes administrations made El Salvador less friendly to foreign investment, and the World Bank sharply lowered its once positive ratings of the countrySony VAIO PCG-61112L battery. By 2012, El Salvador slid to 112th place out of 183 countries in the World Bank's annual "Ease of Doing Business" index. The World Economic Forum lowered El Salvador's economic competitiveness rating in 2012 from 43rd to 91st in the world.
El Salvador began 2012 with the lowest level of foreign investment in Central America, with San Salvador being rated 44th out of 48 Central American cities in terms of attractiveness to investorsSony VAIO PCG-61111L battery.
Foreign companies increasingly have resorted to arbitration in international trade tribunals after Salvadoran government policies damaged their inv
In May, 2012, a tribunal of the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes ruled against El Salvador after Pacific Rim Mining Corp. had filed for arbitration to claim $100 million in losses. Sony VAIO PCG-5T2L battery
Main article: Demographics of El Salvador
Main article: List of Salvadorans
Christy Turlington is an American model of Salvadoran ancestry, best known for representing Calvin Klein from 1987 to 2007.