Nation at a Glance - El Salvador

History

El Salvador achieved independence from Spain in 1821 and from the Central American Federation in 1839. A 12-year civil war, which cost about 75,000 lives, was brought to a close in 1992 when the government and leftist rebels signed a treaty that provided for military and political reforms.

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

Border Countries: Guatemala 199 km, Honduras 391 km

Total Area: 21,041 sq km Land: 20,721 sq km Water: 320 sq km

Climate: Tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on coast; temperate in uplands

Terrain: Mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau

Natural resources: Hydropower, geothermal power, petroleum, arable land

Land use: Agricultural land: 74.7% arable land 33.1%; permanent crops 10.9%; permanent pasture 30.7% Forest: 13.6% Other: 11.7% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Mestizo 86.3%, White 12.7%, Amerindian 0.2% (includes Lenca, Kakawira, Nahua-Pipil), Black 0.1%, Other 0.6% (2007 est.)

Languages: Spanish (official), Nawat (among some Amerindians)

Religions: Roman Catholic 57.1%, Protestant 21.2%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.9%, Mormon 0.7%, Other religions 2.3%, None 16.8% (2003 est.)

Population: 6,156,670 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 88%; Male: 90.4%; Female: 86% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 14 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Ahuachapan, Cabanas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlan, La Libertad, La Paz, La Union, Morazan, San Miguel, San Salvador, San Vicente, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Usulutan

Economy: The smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador has the fourth largest economy in the region. With the global recession, real GDP contracted in 2009 and economic growth has since remained low, averaging less than 2% from 2010 to 2014, but recovered somewhat in 2015-17 with an average annual growth rate of 2.4%. Remittances accounted for approximately 18% of GDP in 2017 and were received by about a third of all households. In 2006, El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, which has bolstered the export of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector amid increased Asian competition. In September 2015, El Salvador kicked off a five-year $277 million second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation - a US Government agency aimed at stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty - to improve El Salvador's competitiveness and productivity in international markets. The Salvadoran Government maintained fiscal discipline during post-war reconstruction and rebuilding following earthquakes in 2001 and hurricanes in 1998 and 2005, but El Salvador's public debt, estimated at 68.1% of GDP in 2017, has been growing over the last several years. Total external debt was about 60% of GDP in 2017.

Agriculture - products: Coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans, oilseed, cotton, sorghum; beef, dairy products

Industries: Food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals

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