13.7942° N, 88.8965° W
With a long and interesting history, as well as some of the most untouched natural areas in Central America, El Salvador has somehow been able to stay under the radar. Many attribute this to the belief that the country is unsafe to travel to. And while some caution should be advised, that does not mean El Salvador is not worth exploring. With its black sand beaches, awesome surfing, hike-able volcanoes and historic colorful towns, El Salvador is a great country to explore if you are looking to get off the beaten bath. Here are some important things to know about this beautiful Central American country.
| Fast Facts
| Officially known as the Republic of El Salvador, which in Spanish is República de El Salvador or literally "Republic of The Saviour"
| It is bordered on the northeast by Honduras, on the northwest by Guatemala, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean
| As of 2018, the country had a population of approximately 6.42 million, making it the smallest and second-least populated country in Central America
| El Salvador's capital and largest city is San Salvador
| The region was controlled by several Mesoamerican nations, especially the Lenca, the Mayans, then later the Cuzcatlecs. Archaeological monuments also suggest an early Olmec presence around the first millennium BC
| In the 16th century, the Spanish Empire conquered the Central American territory and incorporated it into the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which ruled from Mexico City.
| Persistent socioeconomic inequality and civil unrest culminated in the devastating Salvadoran Civil War from 1979 to 1992, fought between the military-led government backed by the United States, and a coalition of left-wing guerrilla groups. The conflict ended with the Chapultepec Peace Accords.
| El Salvador's economy has historically been dominated by agriculture, beginning with the Spanish taking control of the indigenous cacao crop in the 16th century. Eventually agriculture mostly shifted focus to coffee, which by the early 20th century accounted for 90% of export earnings. El Salvador has since reduced its dependence on coffee and embarked on diversifying its economy by opening up trade and financial links and expanding the manufacturing sector.
| El Salvador has over 300 rivers, and the most important of which is the Rio Lempa.
| The highest point in El Salvador is Cerro El Pital, at 2,730 meters (8,957 feet), which is located on the border with Honduras. Two parallel mountain ranges cross El Salvador to the west with a central plateau between them and a narrow coastal plain hugging the Pacific.
All facts from here.
| Fun Facts
| El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America with an area of just over 21,000 square kilometers - which is about the same size as Wales.
| It is the only country in Central America without a Caribbean coastline.
| The currency used in El Salvador today is the United States dollar.
| El Salvador has five archaeological parks: Cihuatan, Joya de Ceren, San Andres, Casa Blanca, and Tazumal.
| It is known as the “Land of Volcanoes” because there are more than twenty volcanoes in the region. Two of which are active.
| Salvadorans are known as “guanacos.”
| Metrocentro, located in the capital, San Salvador, is the largest shopping center in Central America. It was built in 1970.
| There are four different species of sea turtles that inhabit the coast of El Salvador.
| Top Adventures
| Explore the Apanaca Range: a mountain range full of old volcanos, this area is a pretty well-known hiking destination (for El Salvador at least). A great way to see the area is the undertake the Ruta de Las Flores, or “The Flower Route” - which is a 20 mile (32 kilometer) scenic road through various colorful small villages and coffee plantations. While hiking it is not common - most people take the local buses, aka chicken buses - it might be an amazing place for a bike tour.
| Hike in Volcanoes National Park: as the name suggests, this national park is home to various volcanoes - both active and dormant. Many of the volcanoes are hike-able, often with a guide. A few of the best are Volcan Santa Ana (the highest volcano in the country), Volcan de Izalco and Cerro Verde.
| Check out Montecristo Trifinio National Park: located far off in the northern reaches of the country, this park is part of a larger ecological complex that expands into neighboring Honduras and Guatemala. Created in 1987 to protect the beautiful cloud forest ecosystem, these national parks and reserves have helped stop habitat loss for various important animals; including, the two-fingered anteater, striped owls, toucans, agoutis, pumas and spider monkeys. There are some great trails to explore the park, including taking on the tallest peak, El Trifino, which stands at 2,418 meters.
| Spend some time along the coast: El Salvador has 307 kilometers or 190 miles of coastline - meaning plenty of little towns and beaches to explore. Some of the best are Playa El Esteron, a nice casual (way less touristy) spot in the southern part of the country, Playa El Tunco, a backpacking and surfing paradise that is popular especially on the weekends, and Playa El Cuco, a nice more-remote beach town with black sand beaches and turtles.
Go rock climbing at Puerta del Diablo: while this striking massif has a dark history dating back to the civil war, today it has become a popular spot for outdoor adventures. Including, hiking, caving, rappelling, and most common, rock climbing. Mountain Project has a whole page on the rock (including beta on over 70 routes), so if you are looking to send it in El Salvador - this is the place to go.
More Information on things to do and see: here and here.
History and culture of El Salvador: https://www.britannica.com/place/El-Salvador
First-hand account of traveling in El Salvador: https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-guides/el-salvador-travel-tips/