Facts & Figures

Spanish (100%)
Nahua (2nd language among some Amerindians)

7,185,218 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99

Ethnic groups
mestizo 90% (mixed indigenous & European), white 9%, Amerindian 1%

Roman Catholic 57.1%, Protestant 21.2%, other religions 4.9%, none 16.8% (2003 est.)

total: 21,041 sq km
country comparison to the world: 153
land: 20,721 sq km
water: 320 sq km
US State size and shape comparison: Massachusetts

tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on coast; temperate in uplands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro El Pital 2,730 m

Infant mortality rate:
total: 21.52 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 100
(100 countries have a worse rate; 123 countries have a better rate; US rank: 180)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne (usually insect) diseases: dengue fever
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)

Currency: $ (US Dollar )
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$6,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
Population below poverty line:
30.7% (2006 est.)

Historical Timeline

  • Present

    High violent crime from organized gangs; highest emigration to the US by % of population.
  • 2005

    CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Act) passed in US Congress; Chinese competition for small manufacturing limits economic growth.
  • 2001

    Two massive earthquakes devastate central country.
  • 1999

    Hurricane Mitch floods eastern country.
  • 1992

    War ends; small manufacturing in Free Trade Zones (especially textiles) begins.
  • 1980-89

    civil war rages; US sends money and logistical support; 75,000 people die, ends soon after the murders of 6 Jesuits and two women.
  • 1980

    War starts: March 24-Archbishop Romero assassinated December 2-four North American churchwomen killed August 15-COAR founded for war orphans.
  • 1977–79

    unrest and demand for land reform; leaders arise from church groups unrest and demand for land reform; leaders arise from church groups.
  • 1932

    La Matanza (the Massacre), 30,000 peasants killed after riots for better land distribution.
  • 1821–1932

    King Coffee--main export and source of income.
  • 1821

    Independence from Spain.
  • 1525

    First Spanish explorers arrive; large plantations are created until very few families and businesses own almost all of the land
  • 1100

    1100 The Pupil people of the Aztec civilization move into Mayan Indian lands


El Salvador

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Learn more about Zaragoza, El Salvador, COAR’s hometown.