El Salvador Travel Guide

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El Salvador


The Republic of El Salvador is located in Central America, on the Gulf of Conseca in the North Pacific Ocean, and situated between Honduras and Guatemala with Nicaragua to the east.


It is mostly mountainous with a narrow coastal area and central plateau. It is the smallest country in Central America , the most densely populated, and the only country in Central America without any Caribbean coastline. The country has the Sierra Madre Mountains crossing from north to south, which contain many extinct volcanoes with varying size craters and some which are not dormant.


The population is comprised of mainly Mestizo (Spanish-Indian), with some Amerindians and Whites. The main religion is Roman Catholic with some Protestants. Spanish is the official language, with some Nahua spoken among the Amerindians.

El Salvador was one a part of the Mayan culture and is rich in Spanish traditions. Prior to conquest by the Spanish the land that is now known as El Salvador comprised two Indian states and other principalities.


A tribe of nomadic Nahua were the original inhabitants, called the Pipils. Their culture resembled that of the Aztecs, but they became one of the first tribes to turn away from human sacrifices. Archaeological sites remain of their existence in many areas. In the 15 th century the country was invaded by the Spanish, who failed in their first attempt, being repelled by the Pipil warriors, but they returned with success. El Salvador eventually gained independence from Spain in 1821. However, the country has had many years of political troubles with civil wars, political corruption, coups and dictatorships. The spirit of the people was not broken and the country is gradually stabilizing, rebuilding itself and becoming a popular tourist destination.


The capital city, San Salvador , is a modern city with a population of over one million. It is situated in a valley in the highlands near a volcano and has a fascinating mixture of colonial and modern architecture as well as shopping centres and amusement parks. The Plaza Barrios is a wonderful place for shoppers as well as the markets where local crafts can be found. For nightlife the district called Zona Rose has upscale dining and attractions. The city’s cathedral is also popular place to visit. There are also museums which have collections of the many archaeological finds. The second largest city is Santa Ana which is an area where coffee is grown on the slopes of a volcano and there are lakes nearby.


El Salvador has its share of beautiful white sand beaches, a tropical climate and good hotels. It is the most important tourist attraction, and is a good place for surfing. There are also beaches of black or grey sand to the western area of the country. The locals as well as tourists, enjoy spending time at the beach, especially in some of the tourist areas such as La Costa del Sol.


The El Salvadorans are known for their hospitality, friendliness and good humour, and are said to always be wearing a smile. For shoppers, or those who wish to pick up some souvenirs of the local arts and crafts, there are many items made from wood, bamboo, clay and cloth to be found. El Salvador ’s economy is driven by exports of coffee and sugar, as well as many manufactured products.


For nature lovers the Montecristo Cloud Forest is sure to be a fascinating place for hikes with its microclimates and many species of flora and fauna, including orchids and toucans. Also Cerro Verde National Park is the place to view an active volcano, Volcan Izalco, and a crater lake.


For archaeology and history lovers there is plenty to explore, which the many ancient sites of the Mayan culture. The ruins of Tazumal in Chalchuapa are some of oldest to be found in the country. They are located approx. 50 miles NW of San Salvador.


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