OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of El Salvador
CAPITAL: San Salvador
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 21,476 Sq Km (8,292 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 6,435,600
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: El Salvador is located on the west
coast of Central America. It is bound by Honduras to the
north, Guatemala to the northwest, the Gulf of Fonseca to
the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The country
is divided by the Coastal and Cordillera Apeneca Mountain
Ranges running east to west. Additionally, the country is
divided into three topographical regions. (1.) The southern
coastal plain which is a tropical flat coastal belt. (2.)
The northern lowlands which are formed by the valleys of
the Lempa River and Sierra Madre. (3.) The central plateau
which is interspersed by mountains, volcanoes and valleys.
El Salvador is located in a very unstable geological zone
and is subject to frequent earthquakes. Nearly 150 rivers
flow across the country to the Pacific Ocean and it has
three lakes, Lake Guija, Lake Coatepeque and Lake Ilopango.
Major Cities (pop. est.); San Salvador 422,600, Soyapango
251,800, Santa Ana 202,300, San Miguel 182,800, Mejicanos
145,000 (1992). Land Use; forested 5%, pastures 30%, agricultural-cultivated
35%, other 30% (1993).
CLIMATE: El Salvador has a tropical climate that is characterized
by warm temperatures during the day and cool nights, except for the coastal
plain. There are two distinct seasons, a dry season from November to April
with light rainfall and a wet season from May to November when heavy rainfall
occurs. Rainfall is heaviest along the coast whilst the interior regions
remain relatively dry. Average monthly precipitation during the wet season
is 260 mm (10 inches). Average temperature ranges in San Salvador are from
22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) to 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees
Fahrenheit) all year.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Mestizos who are
of mixed Spanish and AmerIndian descent and account for 90% of the population.
AmerIndians account for 5% while another 5% are Whites mainly Spanish.
The two major AmerIndian groups are the Pipil and Lenca. Other ethnic alien
groups include the Lebanese, Swiss, Turks, Syrians, Germans and Chinese.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 256 persons per sq km
(664 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 44.4% urban, 55.6% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.0% male, 51.0% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
58.0 years male, 67.0 years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 44% under 15,
28% 15 to 29, 13% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 33.0 per 1,000 (1989). Death Rate; 8.0 per 1,000 (1989). Increase
Rate; 25.0 per 1,000 (1989). Infant Mortality Rate; 57.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with around 93% of the population
Roman Catholic while other religious minorities include Protestants, Pentecosts
LANGUAGES: The official language is Spanish which is spoken by
nearly all of the population. The only AmerIndian language spoken is Pipil.
EDUCATION: Aged 10 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
30.2%, primary 60.7%, secondary 6.9%, higher 2.3% (1980). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 73.0% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1956 Lemus won the presidency
in a disputed election and in 1960 a military coup ousted him. A Junta
then ruled the country until 1961 when it was ousted by another Junta.
In 1962 a new constitution was adopted and in 1969 Honduran land reform
laws forced many Salvadorans living in Honduras to give up their land.
These laws created tensions and a longstanding border dispute between El
Salvador and Honduras resulted in a four day war. In 1972 widespread protests
broke out after accusations of massive electoral fraud, which also led
to the formation of many popular organizations and guerrilla groups. In
1977 amongst further allegations of electoral fraud, Gen. Carlos Humberto
Romero became President. In 1979 army reformist officers removed Romero
from office and replaced him with a Junta consisting of two army officers
and three civilians. With the level of political violence in El Salvador
increasing the Junta appointed Jose Napoleon Duarte as President in Dec.
1980. In the same year El Salvador and Honduras signed an agreement to
end their border dispute and in Jan. 1981 a civil war erupted between government
troops and leftist rebel guerrilla forces. In 1984 Duarte was reelected
President and in 1986 an earthquake struck San Salvador causing around
1,020 deaths as well as widespread property damage. In Mar. 1989 Alfredo
Cristiani was elected President and unlike his predecessor, he took a hard
line with the rebel guerrilla groups supporting a military solution. In
Nov. 1989 a massive military offensive was launched, after negotiations
broke down, resulting in the deaths or injury of around 2,000 people. In
early 1991 the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Movement (FMLN) shot
down a helicopter killing three US military advisors. In March 1991 elections
resulted in the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) winning 39 seats,
followed by the PDC with 26 and the CD 8 seats. In April 1991 the outgoing
Legislative Assembly agreed on a set of reforms that would strengthen civilian
control over the armed forces, create a civilian police force separate
to the Army, remove judicial control from the ruling party and improve
the electoral process. Under UN mediation Pres. Christani and the FMLN
signed a agreement in Sept. 1991 planned to end the civil war and reform
the military. In the same month Col. Guillermo Alfredo Benavides Moreno
was convicted of ordering the massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper
and her daughter in Nov. 1989. On Jan. 16, 1992 the government and the
FMLN signed a peace accord that ended 12 years of civil war that had cost
around 80,000 lives, displaced a million people and caused material losses
of some $1 billion. As part of the peace accord a timetable was drafted
for the gradual demobilization of the guerrilla forces, the disbandment
of the National Guard and Treasury Police, the reduction of the armed forces
and political and economic reforms that would include the FMLN members,
although delays resulted. On Feb. 20, 1992 the hard-line anti-communist
founder and leader of the ARENA, Roberto d'Abuisson who had been linked
with many political murders died. On June 30, 1992 the UN mission confirmed
that the first 20% of the FMLN forces had been demobilized while under
US and UN pressure the government and FMLN forces agreed to a new timetable
for demobilization. On Dec. 14, 1992 the demobilization was finally complete
with a ceremony the following day in San Salvador marking the end of the
civil war. In Mar. 1993 a UN Commission report published the atrocities
of the 12-year civil war that found many senior army officers responsible
for the murder of thousands of civilians. The commission's report also
urged that the officers' be dismissed, be banned from public office for
10 years and prohibited from ever gaining military or security responsibilities.
Subsequently the Legislative Assembly passed an amnesty for all of those
who had committed crimes during the war which resulted in the UN secretary-general
announcing that the government had reneged on the peace-settlement while
the US withheld further military aid until the purge of officers had been
completed. By the end of June 1993 changes in the high command and in other
key posts had been announced. Also in 1993 the political parties had named
their candidates to contest the 1994 presidential elections.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Colon (C) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $7,233,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $1,897,000,000 (1993). Imports; C 16,636,000,000 (1993). Exports;
C 6,366,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $121,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; C -12,254,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 1,762,002
or 34.4% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 8.1% (1993).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are CACM countries,
the USA, the EU and Japan.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Beans, Cattle, Coffee, Cotton, Maize, Poultry,
Rice, Silver, Sorghum, Sugar, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Chemicals, Electricity, Fishing,
Food Processing, Footwear, Forestry, Petroleum Products, Textiles and Clothing.
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemicals, Clothing, Coffee, Cotton, Sugar, Textile
Yarns and Fabrics.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 602 km (374 mi) (1988), passenger-km
6,000,000 (3,728,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km 36,100,000 (24,725,000
short ton-mi) (1988). Roads; length 12,164 km (7,558 mi) (1987). Vehicles;
cars 75,000 (1989), trucks and buses 80,000 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels
12 (1990), deadweight tonnage 3,220 (1989). Air Transport; passenger-km
1,066,000,000 (662,381,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 4,645,000
(3,181,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 8 with a total circulation
of 485,000 (1989). Radio; receivers 2,080,000 (1994). Television; receivers
500,700 (1994). Telephones; units 173,500 (1993).
MILITARY: 30,700 (1992) total active duty personnel with 91.2%
army, 2.3% navy and 6.5% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.3% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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