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35 Interesting Facts About El Salvador

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El Salvador isn’t just the “Land of Volcanoes”, but also of interesting history, food, and people. So, here are some interesting facts about El Salvador.


Interesting Facts About El Salvador 

If you look at El Salvador on the map of Central America, you might feel like there isn’t much to discover about it. Sadly, I had a similar impression, until I read that it was also a part of the Mayan civilization. 

Hence, I went deep down the rabbit hole and discovered some interesting facts about El Salvador. Let’s talk more about them!

1. El Salvador Means the Saviour, Jesus Christ

First, let’s start with some naming-related interesting facts about El Salvador. 

The Spanish term El Salvador translates to the “The Saviour”, referring to Jesus Christ. 

Pedro de Alvarado, the Spanish conquistador, has a major role in naming the country. When he arrived in the early 16th century, he named the region San Salvador, which translates to “Holy Savior”. 

Interesting Facts About El Salvador 

2. El Salvador Is the Smallest Country in Central America

El Salvador has an area of 21,000 square kilometres. Hence, it is the smallest country in Central America. In fact, it is smaller than many American states like Maryland and Massachusetts.

3. El Salvador Is the First Country in the World to Legalise Bitcoin

Legalising Bitcoin has always been a bit of an issue in many countries due to its security concerns. Yet, El Salvador became the first country to legalise Bitcoin as a legal tender in September 2021.

If you want to use Bitcoin in El Salvador, you’ll require a digital wallet, known as “Chivo”. There are 200 Chivo automatic teller machines to deposit or withdraw cash too. 

4. Cumbia is a Famous Dance of El Salvador 

If you love exploring the dances of various nations, then you’ll love these interesting facts about El Salvador. 

Cumbia has its roots in Colombia. But, the dance also gained popularity in other countries, like El Salvador. 

Women wear white and red off-shoulder blouses, along with flowy and long skirts while performing Cumbia. 

Cumbia is a mix of salsa and samba, as couples surround and dance around the musicians. Women have shuffling movements while the men move around in a zigzag pattern. The whole performance looks quite poetic!

5. The Largest Football Stadium in Central America is in El Salvador 

The people of El Salvador love football! Hence, it is not a surprise that the largest football stadium in Central America, The Estadio Cuscatlán, is in El Salvador. 

The Estadio Cuscatlán is located in the capital of El Salvador, San Salvador. The stadium was inaugurated in 1976 and can easily accommodate 53,400 people!

6. Deforestation is a Major Problem in El Salvador

If you’ve read the facts about other Central American countries, you’ll know that deforestation is their common enemy!

Similarly, El Salvador also experiences major deforestation every year. Between 2002 and 2022, the country lost around 82.0 kha of its total tree cover. This is an 8.3% decrease from the country’s forested land in 2000.

The main reason behind deforestation in El Salvador is clearing out forests for agricultural land, livestock production, and urban growth.

7. El Salvador Is One of the Best Destinations for Surfing

I have always been a fan of surfing, so this is one of my favourite interesting facts about El Salvador!

La Libertad Department, just 45 minutes away from San Salvador, has many stunning beaches and surf breaks. The El Zonte town is called the “world surfing mecca”. Other locations include El Sunzal, El Tunco, and El Majahual.

El Salvador also hosted the 2023 ISA World Surfing Games where 300 surfers from 64 countries participated!

8. El Salvador Went to War for a Football Match

Did you know that El Salvador has fought a war due to football? 

In 1969, El Salvador and Honduras were playing against each other for the 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. El Salvador won the match after a score of 3-2. 

However, in three weeks, both countries got into a war that lasted for four days! It resulted in the deaths of four thousand people, and thousands were displaced. 

9. El Salvador Was a Part of the United Provinces of Central America

The sovereign state of the United Provinces of Central America, just south of Mexico, was formed in 1823 after declaring independence from the Spanish Empire. 

This state consisted of many Central American countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and some parts of Belize too. 

However, the federation went through many bloody conflicts between 1838 and 1840 due to different ideologies. Hence, it was dissolved in 1841.

10. El Salvador Has One UNESCO World Heritage Site

Let’s get into the historical and interesting facts about El Salvador. 

Joya de Cerén is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in El Salvador. Located in the Canton Joya de Cerén in the La Libertad Department, these architectural ruins date back to the pre-Columbian Maya times. 

The architectural site is a farming village, which was covered by volcanic ash in the 7th century. People also consider it the “The Pompeii of the Americas”. 

UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in 1993. 

11. The Nickname of El Salvador Is “The Land of Volcanoes”

Here is one of the interesting facts about El Salvador and its geography

Many consider El Salvador the “Land of Volcanoes” as the country has more than 100 volcanoes! Out of these, 20 volcanoes are considered active

Due to the presence of several volcanoes, the country has faced many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes too.

The worst volcanic eruption took place in the mid-5th century AD in El Salvador. It is known as the Tierra Blanca Joven eruption of Lake Ilopango. The estimates suggest that 30,000 people died!

12. El Salvador Produces Some of the Best Coffee in the World

Do you love coffee? If so, here are some interesting facts about El Salvador for you.

El Salvador is one of the countries known for its coffee production. There are three main types of coffee beans growing in the country. These include Bourbon, Pacas, and Pacamara.

Bourbon coffee has a beautiful buttery and chocolate-like taste, making it taste unique. Pacas is a mutated form of Bourbon beans, whereas the Salvadoran Institute of Coffee Research has developed Pacamara beans.

13. San Salvador Is the Oldest Capital City in Central America

San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, is considered the oldest capital city in the entire Central America. 

A Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Alvarado, set foot in El Salvador in 1524 and found the city of San Salvador. The country was under Spanish rule for over 300 years!

14. The Flag of El Salvador Holds a Lot of Details

You can say a lot about El Salvador after looking at its flag!

The flag consists of three horizontal bands – blue, white, and blue. The upper blue colour represents the sky, whereas the lower one represents water. The white band in the middle represents peace. 

There’s a coat of arms in the centre. You’ll also see a yellow triangle containing five volcanoes in the ocean. Just below the triangle, you’ll find the “Dios, Unión, Libertad” slogan, which translates to “God, Union, and Liberty”.

Interesting Facts About El Salvador 

15. El Salvador Has a Rich Mayan History

I have got some interesting facts about El Salvador and Mayan civilization for you.

Countries like Mexico and Guatemala are famous for their rich Mayan history. However, El Salvador was also one of the countries where the Mayans resided. It’s estimated that the Mayans came to the country around 1500 B.C. 

They continued to flourish in the country until the Toltec Empire took control of the region in 900 A.D. Then, the Spanish colonisers inhabited the country in 1524.

The Mayans mainly occupied the Western region of El Salvador. 

16. USD Is the Currency of El Salvador

I was surprised to find out that El Salvador’s official currency is also USD! Before 2001, the country’s legal tender used to be Colon. However, the government got rid of it to reduce inflation, encourage foreign investments, and regulate the economy.

17. El Salvador’s National Flower Is the Izote

Izote or the Spineless yucca is a lovely flower that’s also used for culinary purposes in El Salvador. 

Many people use these flowers for pickles. They may also steam it with eggs for a more intense flavour. You can even find chicken recipes containing izote!

18. El Salvador Fought a War Once Due to a Soccer Match!

Soccer is a crazy affair for many people all over the world, including Central Americans!

El Salvador and Honduras waged a war against each other during the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Both countries played in three matches to decide which country would qualify for the World Cup.

Now, El Salvador won two matches whereas Honduras won the last match. This led to a bloody war that lasted for four days and resulted in thousands of casualties!

19. It’s Best to Visit El Salvador From November to April

These interesting facts about El Salvador are for the people planning to visit the country soon. 

If you want to see El Salvador in all its glory, consider visiting the country between November and April. During this time, you won’t experience any extreme climate. 

You can avoid the dreadful heat of April and May and the crazy rains between June and September. 

20. You’ll Find Pyramids in El Salvador!

You may have heard about pyramids in Egypt and Mexico. But, there are many pyramids in El Salvador too!

As I mentioned earlier, El Salvador was a part of the ancient Mayan civilization. Hence, there are five archaeological parks in the country. Out of these, the Tazumal is an important pre-Columbian Mayan ruin. 

Tazumal is located in the ancient Mesoamerican city of Chalchuapa. It is a magnificent structure consisting of fourteen-stepped ceremonial pyramids.

Interesting Facts About El Salvador 

21. El Salvador Made the World’s Largest Pretzel

Okay, these are truly some fun and interesting facts about El Salvador!

The world’s largest pretzel which weighed around 783.81 kilograms was made in El Salvador on 25 October 2015. It had a length of 29 feet and a width of 13 feet!

This pretzel is also listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest pretzel. 

22. Africans in El Salvador Are Very Less

Did you know that back in the 1500s, over 10,000 African men and women were brought to El Salvador for work? 

Yet, here’s one of the astonishing yet interesting facts about El Salvador. 

Throughout the years, Africans assimilated with the native population. Hence, today, you’ll find that Afro-Salvadorans form less than 1% of the country’s population.

23. Spanish Is the Official Language of El Salvador

Let’s get into some language-related interesting facts about El Salvador. 

Due to the influence of Spanish colonialism in El Salvador, the majority of the population today speaks Castilian or Spanish. 

Some other languages also include native languages like Cacaopera (0.07% of the population) and Nawat (0.06%). These are spoken by the indigenous people of El Salvador. 

Furthermore, El Salvador is famous for slang words, including the use of the term “chivo” to refer to money. This slang reflects the creativity and cultural richness of Salvadoran language, where everyday words and expressions take on new meanings in informal contexts.

24. Christianity Is the Main Religion of El Salvador

El Salvadorans mostly follow Christianity. As per the World Religion Database 2020, 96.68% of them follow Christianity, followed by 2.57% atheists or agnostics. Less than 0.57% of the population follows ethnic religions. 

Around 41.9% of Christians follow Roman Catholicism whereas 35.9% are Evangelical Christians. 

25. El Salvador Has Delicious Food Like Pupusas and Yuca Frita

Here are some interesting facts about El Salvador for gourmands!

Just like other Central American countries, El Salvador also has some mouth-watering dishes. Most of them have a Spanish influence, along with some indigenous flavours. 

One of the most popular dishes in the country is Pupusas. It is a type of tortilla made up of corn or rice flour, stuffed with various ingredients like cheese, chicken, shrimp, beans, and many more. 

If you’re looking for a quick snack, try Yuca Frita, a deep-fried dish made up of cassava.

Other preparations include Tamales, Quesadillas (a type of cheesecake, not the Mexican dish!), and Horchata (a type of rice beverage).

Interesting Facts About El Salvador 

26. El Salvador is the Most Densely Populated Country in Central America

As El Salvador is a small country, it has more density than other Central American countries. 

The country has a population of 6.3 million. Hence, as per 2023 statistics, there are over 302 people per square kilometre. This is a 0.45% increase from the 2022 population density of El Salvador (301 people).

27. El Salvador Is the Only Country in Central America Without a Caribbean Coastline

Isn’t this one of the surprising yet interesting facts about El Salvador? 

Central American countries like Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and many others have a Caribbean coastline

However, El Salvador is surrounded by the Pacific Coast (South), Honduras (north and east), and Guatemala (north and west). It’s the only country in Central America which doesn’t share a coastline with the Caribbean. 

28. Maquilishuat Is the National Tree of El Salvador

The Maquilishuat tree was declared the national tree of El Salvador in 1939. This tree looks majestic as it can reach a height of 15 feet

If you look at its pictures, you’ll see how beautiful it looks with a bunch of pink flowers blooming on it.

29. El Salvadorans Are Also Called Guanacos

Here’s one of the truly interesting facts about El Salvador!

Many people refer to Salvadorans as “guanacos”. Now, the history behind this nickname has many versions. 

One version is that the nickname is used as Salvadorans are pretty hardworking. Guanacos are animals like llamas that are used for carrying heavy loads across many miles.

Another version states that the name means ‘brotherhood’ and has roots in the Mayan civilization. 

30. El Salvador Has a Tropical Climate

El Salvador isn’t the hottest country, but its climate mostly remains warm. The temperature ranges between 15 degrees Celsius and 23 degrees Celsius.

It has two main seasons – a wet season between May and October and a dry season between November and April.

31. Cerro El Pital Is the Highest Point in El Salvador

Let’s talk about some geography-related interesting facts about El Salvador. 

Cerro El Pital is the highest peak in El Salvador with a height of 8,957 feet. It’s located on the border between El Salvador and Honduras. 

You can also hike to the top of the mountain, but you need to pay around $2 per person. The best part about the peak is that you get to see the neighbouring part of Honduras, the Cerrón Grande Reservoir, and the San Salvador volcano!

32. El Salvador Is a Cheap Travel Destination

Do you want some interesting facts about El Salvador for travellers?

When it comes to the prices, the country is pretty affordable. Generally, you can easily get breakfast, lunch, and dinner at $3, $4, and $8, respectively. Keep in mind that these costs can differ depending on how you spend your money.

Additionally, the country offers bus services, where the tickets cost less than one dollar. The only catch? You might’ve to change too many buses to get to your destination. 

You can also find affordable accommodation at hostels for less than $30 per night. 

33. El Salvador Has Beautiful Wildlife With Over 800 Animal Species

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you need to know these interesting facts about El Salvador. 

The country is home to over 800 animal species! Its national animal and bird is the turquoise-browed motmot (Eumomota superciliosa), which represents liberty, freedom, and nature’s beauty. They are present in abundance in El Salvador. 

Other unique animals in El Salvador include Baird’s Tapir (the largest Tapir species), the American crocodile, coyotes, raccoons, ocelots, and many more

You can find these animals in many national parks like Parque Nacional El Boqueron, National Park Cerro Verde, Montecristo National Park, and many more. 

34. Santa Ana Volcano Is the Tallest Volcano in El Salvador

As I mentioned earlier, El Salvador has many volcanoes. Out of these, Santa Ana Volcano (or the Ilamatepec Volcano) is the tallest one with a height of 7,812 feet above sea level. Since 1520, the volcano has erupted 18 times, the last time being 2005.

35. Around 74% Of El Salvadorans Live in Urban Cities

Over the years, urbanisation has become common in many countries, including El Salvador. Here are some interesting facts about El Salvador and its urbanisation.

In 1973, the urban population of El Salvador was only around 40.5%. However, in the next 49 years, it increased to 74%! It continues to grow at a rate of 1.26%. Hence, in a few years, the majority of its population would be living in urban cities. 

Further Reading – Interesting Facts About El Salvador

After reading these interesting facts about El Salvador, you might feel a little overwhelmed! Despite its tiny size, the country has an extensive history and mind-blowing landscapes. It is also becoming one of the top spots for surfing and making its name amongst surfers.

If you want to learn such facts about the other American countries, check these out:

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