The World Factbook (1990)/El Salvador

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El Salvador

World Factbook (1990) El Salvador.jpg

 See regional map III


Total area: 21,040 km²; land area: 20,720 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Massachusetts

Land boundaries: 545 km total; Guatemala 203 km, Honduras 342 km

Coastline: 307 km

Maritime claims:

Territorial sea: 200 nm (overflight and navigation permitted beyond 12 nm)

Disputes: several sections of the boundary with Honduras are in dispute

Climate: tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April)

Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau

Natural resources: hydropower and geothermal power, crude oil

Land use: 27% arable land; 8% permanent crops; 29% meadows and pastures; 6% forest and woodland; 30% other; includes 5% irrigated

Environment: The Land of Volcanoes; subject to frequent and sometimes very destructive earthquakes; deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution

Note: smallest Central American country and only one without a coastline on Caribbean Sea


Population: 5,309,865 (July 1990), growth rate 2.0% (1990)

Birth rate: 34 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -7 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 49 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 62 years male, 68 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.1 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Salvadoran(s); adjective—Salvadoran

Ethnic divisions: 89% mestizo, 10% Indian, 1% white

Religion: about 97% Roman Catholic, with activity by Protestant groups throughout the country

Language: Spanish, Nahua (among some Indians)

Literacy: 65%

Labor force: 1,700,000 (1982 est.); 40% agriculture, 16% commerce, 15% manufacturing, 13% government, 9% financial services, 6% transportation; shortage of skilled labor and a large pool of unskilled labor, but manpower training programs improving situation (1984 est.)

Organized labor: 15% total labor force; 10% agricultural labor force; 7% urban labor force (1987 est.)


Long-form name: Republic of El Salvador

Type: republic

Capital: San Salvador

Administrative divisions: 14 departments (departamentos, singular—departamento); Ahuachapán, Cabañas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlán, La Libertad, La Paz, La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel, San Salvador, Santa Ana, San Vicente, Sonsonate, Usulután

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Constitution: 20 December 1983

Legal system: based on civil and Roman law, with traces of common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Executive branch: president, vice president, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Alfredo CRISTIANI (since 1 June 1989); Vice President José Francisco MERINO (since 1 June 1989)

Political parties and leaders: National Republican Alliance (ARENA), Armando Calderon Sol; Christian Democratic Party (PDC), José Antonio Morales Erlich; National Conciliation Party (PCN), Ciro Cruz Zepeda; Democratic Action (AD), Ricardo González Camacho; Salvadoran Authentic Institutional Party (PAISA), Roberto Escobar Garcia; Patria Libre (PL), Hugo Barrera; Authentic Christian Movement (MAC), Julio Rey Prendes; Salvadoran Popular Party (PPS), Francisco Quiñónez; Democratic Convergence (CD), a coalition composed of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario René Roldan; the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), Guillermo Ungo; and the Popular Social Christian Movement (MPSC), Ruben Zamora

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 19 March 1989 (next to be held March 1994); results—Alfredo Cristiani (ARENA) 53.8%, Fidel Chavez Mena (PDC) 36.6%, other 9.6%;

Legislative Assembly—last held 20 March 1988 (next to be held March 1991); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(60 total) ARENA 32, MAC 13, PDC 9, PCN 6

Other political or pressure groups: Leftist revolutionary movement—Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), leadership body of the insurgency; Popular Liberation Forces (FPL), Armed Forces of National Resistance (FARN), People's Revolutionary Army (ERP), Salvadoran Communist Party/Armed Forces of Liberation (PCES/FAL), and Central American Workers' Revolutionary Party (PRTC/Popular Liberation Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARLP);

Militant front organizations—Revolutionary Coordinator of Masses (CRM; alliance of front groups), Popular Revolutionary Bloc (BPR), Unified Popular Action Front (FAPU), Popular Leagues of 28 February (LP-28), National Democratic Union (UDN), and Popular Liberation Movement (MLP); Revolutionary Democratic Front (FDR), coalition of CRM and Democratic Front (FD); FD consists of moderate leftist groups—Independent Movement of Professionals and Technicians of El Salvador (MIPTES), National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), and Popular Social Christian Movement (MPSC);

Extreme rightist vigilante organizations—Anti-Communist Army (ESA); Maximiliano Hernández Brigade; Organization for Liberation From Communism (OLC); Labor organizations—Federation of Construction and Transport Workers Unions (FESINCONSTRANS), independent; Salvadoran Communal Union (UCS), peasant association; Unitary Federation of Salvadoran Unions (FUSS), leftist; National Federation of Salvadoran Workers (FENASTRAS), leftist; Democratic Workers Central (CTD), moderate; General Confederation of Workers (CGT), moderate; Popular Democratic Unity (UPD), moderate labor coalition which includes FESINCONSTRANS, and other democratic labor organizations; National Unity of Salvadoran Workers (UNTS), leftist; National Union of Workers and Peasants (UNOC), moderate labor coalition of democratic labor organizations;

Business organizations—National Association of Private Enterprise (ANEP), conservative; Productive Alliance (AP), conservative; National Federation of Salvadoran Small Businessmen (FENAPES), conservative

Member of: CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAC, ICAO, ICO, IDA, IDB—Inter-American Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, ITU, IWC—International Wheat Council, OAS, ODECA, PAHO, SELA, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Miguel Angel SALAVERRIA; Chancery at 2308 California Street NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 265-3480 through 3482; there are Salvadoran Consulates General in Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco. US—Ambassador William G. WALKER; Embassy at 25 Avenida Norte No. 1230, San Salvador (mailing address is APO Miami 34023); telephone [503] 26-7100

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with the national coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL; similar to the flag of Nicaragua which has a different coat of arms centered in the white band—it features a triangle encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom; also similar to the flag of Honduras which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band


Overview: The economy experienced a modest recovery during the period 1983-86, after a sharp decline in the early 1980s. Real GDP grew by 1.5% a year on the strength of value added by the manufacturing and service sectors. In 1987 the economy expanded by 2.5% as agricultural output recovered from the 1986 drought. The agricultural sector accounts for 25% of GDP, employs about 40% of the labor force, and contributes about 66% to total exports. Coffee is the major commercial crop, contributing 60% to export earnings. The manufacturing sector, based largely on food and beverage processing, accounts for 17% of GDP and 16% of employment. Economic losses due to guerrilla sabotage total more than $2.0 billion since 1979. The costs of maintaining a large military seriously constrain the government's ability to provide essential social services.

GDP: $5.5 billion, per capita $1,020 (1988); real growth rate 0.9% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 16.8% (September 1989)

Unemployment rate: 10% (1989)

Budget: revenues $688 million; expenditures $725 million, including capital expenditures of $112 million (1988)

Exports: $497 million (f.o.b., 1989); commodities—coffee 60%, sugar, cotton, shrimp; partners—US 49%, FRG 24%, Guatemala 7%, Costa Rica 4%, Japan 4%

Imports: $1.1 billion (c.i.f., 1989); commodities—petroleum products, consumer goods, foodstuffs, machinery, construction materials, fertilizer; partners—US 40%, Guatemala 12%, Venezuela 7%, Mexico 7%, FRG 5%, Japan 4%

External debt: $1.7 billion (December 1989)

Industrial production: growth rate 2.9% (1989)

Electricity: 669,000 kW capacity; 1,813 million kWh produced, 350 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: food processing, textiles, clothing, petroleum products, cement

Agriculture: accounts for 25% of GDP and 40% of labor force (including fishing and forestry); coffee most important commercial crop; other products—sugarcane, corn, rice, beans, oilseeds, beef, dairy products, shrimp; not self-sufficient in food

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $2.4 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $353 million

Currency: Salvadoran colón (plural—colones); 1 Salvadoran colón (C) = 100 centavos

Exchange rates: Salvadoran colones (C) per US$1—5.0000 (fixed rate since 1986)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 602 km 0.914-meter gauge, single track

Highways: 10,000 km total; 1,500 km paved, 4,100 km gravel, 4,400 km improved and unimproved earth

Inland waterways: Río Lempa partially navigable

Ports: Acajutla, Cutuco

Civil air: 7 major transport aircraft

Airports: 125 total, 84 usable; 6 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 5 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: nationwide trunk radio relay system; connection into Central American Microwave System; 116,000 telephones; stations—77 AM, no FM, 5 TV, 2 shortwave; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, National Police, Treasury Police

Military manpower: males 15-49, 1,180,751; 754,350 fit for military service; 68,805 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 4% of GDP, or $220 million (1990 est.)