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El Salvador Information

El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated Central American country. El Salvador borders with Honduras to the South and East and with Guatemala to the North West.

The natural landscape of this tiny country is as turbulent as its recent history, and visitors are beginning to appreciate its wild beauty. Dramatic volcanoes, sea-blue and jade-green lagoons, palm-fringed beaches and newly accessible forests compensate somewhat for the shortcomings of a tourist infrastructure still in its infancy.

At the moment, El Salvador is a country most accommodating to the independent traveller. There is a good network of colorful buses and one of Central America's few remaining passenger train services - a quixotically scheduled run between San Salvador and Metapán through coffee plantations. Budget guesthouses are being opened throughout the country as it gains in confidence, boosted by the improvements being introduced into the economy by NGOs from the US, Australia and Europe. It is hoped that this peaceful trend will result in more visitors being able to enjoy the hiking, surfing and diving that the many rivers, mountain trails and beaches offer, as well as to explore the Mayan ruins.

Facts At A Glance:
Country name: Republic of El Salvador
Area: 21,040 sq km (8,123 sq mi)
Population: 6,704,932 (growth rate 1.75%)
People: 90% mestizo,
9% Spanish descent, 1% Amerindian
17% White, 9% Black

Capital city: San Salvador
Language: Spanish (official)
Religion: Roman Catholic 83%, Protestant 17%
Government: constitutional democracy
Time: GMT/UTC minus 6 hours
Electricity: 110V
Weights /measures: Metric
Climate: tropical; rainy season (May to October);
dry season (November to April); tropical on
coast; temperate in uplands

Visa Requirements:
To enter the country, U.S. citizens must present a current U.S. passport and either a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card. The tourist card may be obtained from immigration officials for a ten-dollar fee upon arrival in country. U.S. travelers who plan to remain in El Salvador for more than thirty days can apply in advance for a multiple-entry visa, issued free of charge, from the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington, D.C. or from a Salvadoran consulate in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Island, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. Travelers may contact the Embassy of El Salvador at 2308 California Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 265-9671, 265-9672, 265-9675; fax (202) 234-3834; e-mail: or visit the Embassy's Internet website at When applying for a visa, travelers may be asked to present evidence of U.S. employment and adequate finances for their visit at the time of visa application or upon arrival in El Salvador. An exit tax of 27 dollars and 15 cents must be paid when departing El Salvador from the international airport. This fee is waived for personnel traveling on diplomatic passports.

Travelers should be aware that El Salvador's entry requirements vary in accordance with agreements the country has with foreign governments. Citizens of several countries in addition to the United States may enter El Salvador with a current passport and either a visa or tourist card. Citizens of many other countries, including many Latin American and western European nations, may enter with only a current passport. However, citizens of most nations are required to present both a current passport and a visa to enter El Salvador. Non-U.S. citizen travelers are advised to contact a Salvadoran embassy or consulate to determine the entry requirements applicable to them.

Links to more information:
CIA World Fact Book - El Salvador
US Department of State
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Map from El Salvador