|El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated in Central America. It's also the only one not touching the Atlantic (Caribbean sea). The major characteristic of the country is the presence of many volcanoes, many of which are active and emit smoke on a regular basis. Although the Western part of the current country was part of the Mayan empire, very few Mayas still live in El Salvador today, and their genes are not as visible in the population as it is in Guatemala. In fact, most of the current territory was mostly occupied by the Pupil civilization, of Aztec origin!|
As most countries in of Central
America, got its independence from Spain in 1821. A Federal Republic
of Central America was formed (currently the countries of Guatemala,
Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua). The following years were
agitated with a very brief inclusion of most countries of the
Capitency within the Mexican empire (at the opposition of El
Salvador). At the dissolution of the Federal Republic in 1841, El
Salvador remained independent, with a small exception of about two
years when it formed with Honduras the Great Republic of Central
America in 1896, which was dissolved in 1898. As most countries in
Central America, its politics was mostly dominated by military
rulings in the 20th century and it has known a bloody
civil war which took place in the 1980s.
The small country (only 21 000 sq km,
or 8 100 sq mi) is very densely populated with a population of now
over 6 millions. Due to political instability over the years, many
Salvadorians have left the country. That caused tensions with
Honduras and a short war (100 hours, in 1969, during the World Cup,
hence it's nicknamed the Futbol War)... which resulted in the
expulsion of as many as 130 000 Salvadorians from Honduras.
Today, a large part of the Salvadorians
live abroad. For the most parts in the USA. They send back home
money to support their relatives still in the country. In fact, the
money they send in is so important for the country it's an important
chunk of the national PIB (from 12% to 20% depending of the year!).
This cash moving in the country helped reduce the proportion of the
population living in extreme poverty but also has negative effects.
Among the negative effects the most
problematic one is the inflation. To counteract this a bit, the
country adopted in 2001 the US dollar as national currency. The
prices are still higher than in Guatemala for example, but it helped
a bit. A vicious effect of the money sent by Salvadorians living
abroad is that many people don't see the interest in getting often
less money from work than they get from their families abroad doing
nothing. It's a bit weird to pay in US dollars for things that are
mostly in Central American prices.
To give you examples of pricing you can
get a dozen of eggs for $1 (in the street) to $2 (in large
supermarkets), a loaf of whole wheat sliced bread will cost you about
$1,50 and a liter of fresh milk about $2. Gas is here too very
expensive... with the gallon of regular gas going for about $4.25.