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About El Salvador
Once known as the coffee republic, El Salvador is the smallest country of Central America, yet it is the most populous. In the 1980's it was ravaged by a bloody civil war between the goverment and the socialist left wing guerillas, which tore the whole country apart in civil strife. Since then, it has made considerable progress and it is a quite stable country now.
El Salvador got its independence from Spain in September 15, 1821 together with the other Central American countries. When these provinces were joined with Mexico in early 1822 El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countries. Although there was considerable pressure it has managed to stay a sovereign nation ever since.
San Salvador is the capital city. It is a modern city; the old capital was destroyed by an earthquake in 1854. Santa Ana is the second largest city of the country. It is only 50 km from the capital and lies in a rich coffee growing region on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano. It is an attractive town with many old buildings. Excursions can be made to Lake Coatepeque and Chalchuapa.
Here are a few facts:
Full country name: Republic of El Salvador
Area: 20,752 sq km
Population: 6.59 million
People: 94% mestizo (Spanish-Indian), 5% Indian, 1% European descent
Language: English, Spanish; Castilian Spanish
Religion: 75% Roman Catholic, 20% Protestant
Government: Republic form
Currency: $ US dollar (official)
* Warning *
Petty theft and U.S. gang related violence between the local Mara Salvatrucha and the 18 gang is a problem in El Salvador in certain areas.
Maintain a sensible level of personal security awareness, travelling in daylight hours, avoiding solo travel, and avoiding poor neighborhoods rural unescorted countryside. If you choose to stay downtown in San Salvador, you can try the Camino Real Hotel, which is a modern and safe hotel with its own taxi drivers. Try to avoid hailing imposter taxi cabs that will take you for a ride for your money. Cabs in the hotel area are your best bet and will drop you off and pick you up as well, if you let them know ahead of time.
If you want to go to the beach, El Salvador has its own Costa del Sol with beautiful white sand beaches and a few luxury hotels. Good black sand beaches can be found in the western part of the country.
The famous national dish is the "Pupusa" [pronounced: pooh-pooh-saah], which is a corn flour patty filled with delectable ingredients such as local cheese and pork or beans, served with a type of local sour kraut called "Curtido" [pronounced: coor-tee-thoe]. Simply very delicious.