El Salvador. By Emily Ruppel. Location and Major Cities. Population. Population of 7.2 million 90% Mestizo, 9% Caucasian, 1% indigenous Spanish is the official language, but Nahua is spoken among some Amerindians Age distribution: 0-14 yrs: 30.6%; 15-64 yrs: 63%; 65+ yrs: 6.4%.
By Emily Ruppel
Population of 7.2 million
90% Mestizo, 9% Caucasian, 1% indigenous
Spanish is the official language, but Nahua is spoken among some Amerindians
Age distribution:0-14 yrs: 30.6%; 15-64 yrs: 63%; 65+ yrs: 6.4%
The government is a Democratic Republic with both a president & a legislative assembly.
The legislative assembly has 81 seats.
Each president serves 5 years.
Like the U.S., El Salvador has an Executive, a Legislative, and a Judicial branch.
Independence was gained on Sept. 15, 1821
The country initially evolved under Spanish rule. In 1810, Priest Jose Matias Delgado began calling for freedom and the people began to rebel. El Salvador declared its independence in 1821. In 1838, El Salvador officially became an independent country, separate from Spain and the rest of Central America. Their freedom was initially marked by several years of civil war.
Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, El Salvador was divided by much civil war. Stability and democracy were achieved briefly in the early 20th century; however, a great civil war followed, between 1980 and 1992. An estimated 75,000 were killed during this period of war. Eventually, a democracy was reinstated and the military was placed under civilian control.
The many human rights violations of the 1980-1992 civil war led the UN to send in a Truth Commission. However, the Legislative Assembly later granted amnesty to many of the guilty parties in the civil war, including the Salvadoran Armed Forces. Many branches of the military were abolished as a part of the peace agreements, including the Treasury Police, National Guard, and National Police. The National Civilian Police was created instead.
ARENA and FMLN are the two primary political parties in El Salvador. ARENA (National Republic Alliance) is the more conservative right-wing one; FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) was formed by the radical left-wing guerillas who fought against the government in the civil war. FMLN currently holds a majority of legislative seats, and the president is an FMLN member.
El Salvador and Honduras have been fighting since the eighteenth century over several pieces of land and two islands encompassing approx. 436.9 sq. kilos. This led to disputes and eventual war in the twentieth century between the two countries. A treaty was signed in 1980, but disputes continued, and in 1992 the International Case of Justice ruled to give Honduras the majority of the land. Brief disputes continued and a final agreement was reached in 2006.
“El Salvador and Honduras complete for the highest homicide rates in the world these days, higher than Colombia or South Africa.” (Geoff Thale, Shifting Epicenter of Drug Violence)
Murder rate: 51.8/100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the world.
These rates are commonly blamed on drug trafficking, especially cocaine.
Mauricio Funes is the current president of El Salvador. He is the first FMLN member to become president of El Salvador. He kept out of the FMLN during the civil war, and later gained fame as a reporter whose criticism of the right-wing government made him an FMLN celebrity, leading to his election as president.
Unemployment rate: 7.2% in 2010.
GINI coefficient (a measurement of wealth distribution):52.4 in 2002. World Rank: 15
The poorest 10% possesses 1% of the wealth; the wealthiest 10% possesses 37%.
Economic growth rate: 0.7% in 2010, -3.5% in 2009, 2.4% in 2008
Men’s Unemployment Rate
Women’s Unemployment Rate
A history of civil war has caused agriculture to suffer in El Salvador. However, especially from the 1960s onwards, manufacturing and consumer goods have prospered.
Three of the most important industries are textiles, food processing, and petroleum.
Other industries include beverages, chemicals, fertilizer, furniture, and light metals.
El Salvador is 57.1% Roman Catholic, 21.1% Protestant, 16.8% nonreligious, 1.9% Jehovah’s Witness, 0.7% Mormon, and 2.3% other.
Initially in the civil war, the Roman Catholic church refused to take sides and advocated for foreign aid in favor of both sides to stop. Later, they took an anti-FMLN stance and have had conflicts with left-wing parties.
El Salvador has a very strong relationship with the U.S. The U.S. supports democracy and law in El Salvador, and has aided their economic growth. The two countries work together closely to prevent drug trafficking. There are currently 19,000+ U.S. citizens living in El Salvador.