Not many people know about El Salvador. It is a small country in Central America, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by Guatemala to the northwest and Honduras to the northeast and east.
The country is infamous for the crimes and don’t attract a lot of tourists. But let me tell you that the people here are warm and hospitable. From volcanoes to Mayan Ruins and beautiful beaches, the country has a lot to offer. Let’s know some more interesting things about it.
15 Interesting facts about El Salvador
1. Out of the seven countries in Central America, El Salvador is the only one without a Caribbean coastline. However, it does have a coastline of roughly 190 miles on the Pacific Ocean.
2. The country has third largest economy in Central America after Costa Rica and Panama. Despite this, 19% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.
3. There was a bloody civil war in the country that took place from 1980 to 1992. During the period, almost 80,000 lives were lost. The Oscar nominated movie Salvador was based on the war.
4. El Salvador is one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world. International surfing competitions have been held in the country thanks to its fabulous beaches. People with surfing boards at the international airport are a common sight.
5. The country is known as the “Land of Volcanoes” as it is home to more than 20 volcanoes. Of them, two volcanoes have been active in recent years. The country also has a long history of catastrophic earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, with its capital itself being destroyed twice already, in 1756 and 1854.
6. Salvadorans enjoy socializing and are extremely hospitable. And if you happen to be invited to a Salvadoran household, try not to be punctual. The host will expect you to be 30-45 minutes late. Weird but yes that is the custom. Also, it is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you’ve finished eating.
7. Four different species of sea turtles make the coasts of El Salvador their home (hawksbill, olive ridley, leatherbacks, and green).
8. In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador were competing for a slot in the 1970 Football World Cup. El Salvador won two out of the three matches and was qualified. The players hugged, shook hands, and left the pitch.
Within few weeks both the countries were at war. Now the football match had nothing to do with the war. The roots were issues over land reform in Honduras and immigration and demographic problems in El Salvador. The war began on 14 July 1969, when the Salvadoran military launched an attack against Honduras. The Organization of American States (OAS) negotiated a cease-fire on the night of 18 July. Hence it was given the name of “100 Hour War”.
It is also known as the Football War as it coincided with the football matches. Whatever the case be, Salvadorans will proudly tell you how they won that last football match.
9. It is one of the few countries in the world that still cultivates indigo.
10. Sadly the country has the highest murder rate in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the number of victims of intentional homicide in the country was 61.80 per 100,000 citizens in 2017. Estimates indicate that approximately 60% of these incidents are related to gang activity. Armed police are visible in every public place and armed security is common in bus stations and stores.
11. El Salvador is the smallest yet most densely-populated country in Central America. As of 2020, it is home to around 6.48 million people. That means, on average, around 800 people are living in each square mile of the country.
12. The largest pretzel in the world was made in El Salvador. According to Guinness World Records, this humongous piece of baked pastry weighed 1,728 pounds, with its length and width measuring 8.93 meters and 4.06 meters respectively.
13. The country has the lowest percentage of African descent. They make up no more than 0.13 percent of the population. This is due to the fact that for around five decades, from the 1930s to the 1980s, the country had strict laws in place banning blacks and some other races from entering its territory.
14. The national flower of El Salvador can be eaten picked, steamed, and mixed with eggs and in soups. The petals of flor de izote are like candy to Salvadorans.
15. It is the only Latin American country that has troops in Iraq.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting El Salvador:
You must be thinking if it is safe to visit El Salvador. Tourism is generally low and mostly because of the country’s reputation for poor safety. But tourists don’t face any violence and the government has been making efforts to bring down the crime rates. People travelling to El Salvador usually have amazing things to say about the country and the citizens.
Hike up a volcano: Go for a hike on one of the volcanoes in the country. Santa Ana is the highest volcano with a height of 7,812 ft. It is one of the most popular destinations in the country. From above, the view of nearby volcanoes and national parks all the way to the sea is stunning. The blue lake that fills one of the craters makes it more magical.
Go Surfing: Pick up your surf board and hit the beach. As mentioned earlier, the country is famous for the sport. Las Flores, Punta Roca, El Tunco are some of the best beach spots.
Visit the Mayan Ruins: If you like history and taking a peek at how Mayan people lived, El Salvador has the most remote Mayan ruins in existence. Best of all, the country is so small and they are so close to each other that you can visit all the relevant ones in a day. The three main Mayan sites are Joya de Ceren, Tazumal and Casa Blanca and San Andres.