El Salvador Today

Geography & Natural Disasters

El Salvador covers an area of about 22,000 square kilometers and is about the size of Massachusetts.

Because El Salvador has dozens of active volcanoes and sits on a meeting point of tectonic plates, it is prone to significant seismic activity. In January and February of 2001, back-to-back earthquakes devastated much of the tiny Central American country, combining to destroy an estimated 153,000 homes.

El Salvador is also susceptible to the residual effects of hurricanes and tropical storms. In November 1998, Hurricane Mitch triggered mudslides and buried thousands of homes. In 2005, Hurricane Stan triggered flooding throughout El Salvador, causing 67 deaths and more than 50,000 people evacuated. According to the U.S. Department of State, damages from the storm were estimated at $355.6 million.

Because of this natural volatility, sustainable infrastructure on all levels is a major challenge for this impoverished nation.

Population Indicators

El Salvador is a country of approximately 6.9 million people; 48% live below the poverty line; 26% live on less than $1.08 per day. El Salvador’s per capita purchasing power is approximately $2,800 per year.

Living Conditions

Only 59% of Salvadorans have clean drinking water in their homes or live within 1 kilometer of clean drinking water. There are currently fewer than 12 physicians per 10,000 people in El Salvador.

Civil War

El Salvador has suffered from decades of violent political unrest throughout its history. In 1980, the country was torn by the eruption of a brutal civil war, a conflict that lasted 12 excruciating years, claiming more than 75,000 lives, leaving thousands of orphans and widows, and causing irreparable emotional damage to the dismembered families. Finally, in 1992 the signing of the peace accords brought some healing to the war-ravaged land. Since then, Salvadorans have embraced healing and reconstruction.