Interesting Facts...ListReturn to Central America - Winter 2011

11 Facts About El Salvador

A couple of days ago I left the beautiful country of El Salvador, so I wanted to publish another edition of “Interesting Facts…” El Salvador is one of the most interesting countries I have visited. Part of the reason I’ve found it so intriguing is because of all the misconceptions about the country, and then the other part is that I’ve been able to stay with many locals (via couchsurfing) and learn more about El Salvador than I’ve been able to learn about past countries. In fact, I learned so much that I had a hard time narrowing it down to just 11 and almost did two posts! But here they are, my favorite 11 facts about El Salvador

1. January 16th, 2011 marked the 19 year anniversary of the signing of the peace accord here in El Salvador. Many travelers associate El Salvador with their civil war, but few realize the war ended almost two DECADES ago! El Salvador is easily, in my opinion, as safe to travel in as Guatemala (A big tourist destination) and Honduras. Honestly, it might even be safer because the country isn’t used to large amounts of tourists so tourist crimes and scams aren’t nearly as developed.

2. Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero will soon become the first Salvadorian to be canonized (granted sainthood) by the Catholic Church. Romero was known for giving hope to the poor during the civil war era in El Salvador, and was assassinated during a sermon in 1980. He is buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown San Salvador and is one of 10 martyrs depicted above the Westminster Abbey in London. During Romero’s funeral a large amount of people gathered to offer their condolences. The already saddened crowd was tormented further by a series of small explosions going off near the back of the crowd. This caused the crowd to push forward towards the front of the church they were gathered near and in turn trample some of their countrymen who were pinned between the crowd and the church. (Roque and Josh CS host)

3. The first Toyota distributor in America (in fact, the second distributor in the World, after Taiwan) was DIDEA of El Salvador. The first Toyota in the American continent, a Land Cruiser, still runs. (Rouqe)

4. At 21,041 square kilometers El Salvador is the 153rd (of 251) largest country in the world according to the CIA Factbook. To put this in perspective for people in the U.S., El Salvador is smaller than the state of New Jersey, which is the 4th smallest state in the U.S. behind Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut.

5. San Salvador has held the nickname of “Valle de las Hamacas” or Hammock Valley” due to a constant earthquake threat and the numerous earthquakes the city has experienced. (Josh CS host)

6. El Salvador has never won an olympic medal. (Josh CS host)

7. El Salvador is known as the team who took the most goals in the World Cup, losing 10-1 to Hungary. Few people remember, however, that it was the team that took the least goals during the qualification round for that World Cup. (Josh CS host)

8. El Salvador has used the U.S. dollar as its official currency since 2001. (Roque)

9. It is the only Central America Country with no Caribbean coastline. (source, or any map!)

10. The largest shopping mall in all of Central America is located in San Salvador. (Roque)

11. It is the most densely populated country in all of North, Central, and South America, with over 850 people per square mile. (source1, source2)

  1. Christine

    Wow–I had no idea about #8, do you know if other Latin American countries do the same?

    1. Matt

      Yup! Panama also uses it as their official currency. You can spend dollars in almost all of the countries though. I’ve spent dollars in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and now Nicaragua. Not everyone takes them but some people will.

  2. Jeremy B

    Great information Matt! One of my favorite things about visiting different places is the history of the place. It’s why I love reading guidebooks for fun. I love facts like this so thanks giving us a history lesson and some fun facts on El Salvador!

    1. Matt

      You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed them! I’m going to keep trying to do posts like this whenever I visit new countries.

  3. Michael Figueiredo

    Interesting facts, Matt. El Salvador is one of the least talked about countries in Central America, so its nice to know a little more about it 🙂

    1. Matt

      Yea El Salvador is definitely an often forgotten country. You could tell by the way people reacted to tourists there. Really the only ones they see are at the beaches so whenever I was inland they were really responsive and interested in me. It was a great way to travel!

      1. Ashley

        Cool i have never been to El Salvador before but i really want to go there it sounds so awesome i just can’t wait till i go there some day

  4. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler

    These are really cool facts. I had no idea El Salvador used U.S. currency. I like that you compared it’s size to New Jersey. That really puts it into perspective how small of a country it is.

  5. Migrationology

    Cool, interesting to read these facts in an easy to follow format. I now know a little more about El Salvador!

  6. Ruth


    Goodto know you put all this together. I didn’t know some of these facts and my husband is from El Salvador. Agree that it is worth to visit.

  7. Cathy Sweeney

    Most of these were new pieces of information for me – thanks. Very interesting that they use the U.S. dollar, among other things.

  8. Jozef Maxted

    Ah we really wanted to go to Central America, but we just didn’t have enought time. Looks like we are missing so many great places!

  9. Andrea

    Very interesting facts! Thanks for putting together such a great list.

  10. Robin

    Always interesting, these posts 🙂

  11. Ted Nelson

    Nice list of facts. I hope that El Salvador’s Olympic draught ends soon. Nice to hear it is a safe place to travel. That part of the world is on my radar. Thanks for making it more so.

  12. luisa barahona

    wow el salvador iis da beast im 4rom there yall should go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! even though its little its awsome lolzz:)

  13. Lydia

    El Salvador really is great and people should give it a shot and see some very exuist places. All my family is from there and I’ve gone at least once every two years, since i was ten. One of the best places to go to when over there is Santa Ana, an hour away from the capital it has all the best of the city with the lanscape on the outskirts. Que viva El Salvador.=]

  14. emms

    hey thx sooooooooooooooooo mush i have to do a pojed about el salvador 4 hisory and this help me alot and i got 100% im soooooooooo happy 🙂 thx u thx thx u thx u

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