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Country Profile

El Salvador

El Salvaqdor is A democratic Country with A developing economy. Tourism facilities are not fully developed. The capital is San Salvador, accessible by El Salvador's International Airport at Comalapa. Both the U.S. Dollar and the Salvadoran Colon are legal tender in El Salvador. While Colones are still accepted, the primary currency of El Salvador is the U.S. Dollar. Americans traveling with U.S. Dollars should not exchange them for Colones. Read the Department of State Background Notes on El Salvador for additional information.

El Salvador


Image of El Salvador
Country Name: El Salvador
Continent: Central America
Capital City: San Salvador
Boundary Countries:

Guatemala, Honduras

Recommended Hospitals in Capital:

San Salvador:  Hospital de Diagnostico, Hospital de la Mujer, Clinicas Medicas

San Salvador:  Hospital Centro de Cirugia Farela, Hospital Centro de Emergencias, Hospital Pro-Familia

Main Cities:

San Salvador, San Miguel, Puerto Cutuco, Usulután, Santa Ana, Acajutla, Apopa, Nueva San Salvador

Country Size: 21,040 sq km
Population: 6,948,073



Spanish, Nahua (among some Amerindians)

Currency: US dollar (USD)
Predominant Religions:

Roman Catholic 83%, other 17%


note: there is extensive activity by Protestant groups throughout the country; by the end of 1992, there were an estimated 1 million Protestant evangelicals in El Salvador

National Holidays: IndependanceDay,15 September (1821)
Economic Status:

El Salvador is a democratic country with a developing economy. Although the dollar and Colon are legal tender in El Salvador, in practice the Colon has fallen out of use, and Americans traveling with U.S. dollars should not exchange them for Colones.


Salvadoran Army (ES), Salvadoran Navy (FNES), Salvadoran Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Salvadorena, FAS)

US Presence:
U.S. Embassy in San Salvador
Final Boulevard Santa Elena
Antiguo Cuscatlán, La Libertad
Telephone: 2501-2999
Document 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, DC or from a Salvadoran consulate in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Island, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, or San Francisco.  Travelers may contact the Embassy of El Salvador at 1400 16th Street NW, Washington, DC  20036, tel. (202) 265-9671, 265-9672; fax (202) 232-3763; or visit the Embassy of El Salvador web site.  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.  For passengers departing by air, El Salvador has an exit tax of $32.00 which is usually included in the price of the airline ticket. 

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.

In June 2006, El Salvador entered into the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.  Under the terms of the agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders from one of the countries to any of the others without completing entry and exit formalities at immigration checkpoints.  U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals, who legally enter any of the four countries, may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three countries.  Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days.  Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the four-country region beyond the period initially granted for their visit must request a one-time extension of stay from local immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or they must leave the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region.  Foreigners “expelled” from any of the four countries are excluded from the entire CA-4 region.  In isolated cases, the lack of clarity in the implementing details of the CA-4 Border Control Agreement has caused temporary inconvenience to some travelers and has resulted in others being fined more than one hundred dollars or detained in custody for 72 hours or longer.

Airlines operating out of El Salvador International Airport require all U.S. citizen passengers boarding flights for the United States (including U.S.-Salvadoran dual nationals) to have a current U.S. passport.  U.S. citizens applying for passports at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador are reminded that proof of citizenship and identity are required before a passport can be issued.  Photographic proof of identity is especially important for young children because of the high incidence of fraud involving children.  Since non-emergency passports are printed in the United States, and not at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, citizens submitting applications in El Salvador should be prepared to wait approximately one week for receipt of their new passports.

The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador reminds U.S. citizen travelers that their activities in El Salvador are governed by Salvadoran law and the type of visa they are issued.  Under Salvadoran law, all foreigners who participate directly or indirectly in the internal political affairs of the country (i.e. political rallies, protests) lose the right to remain in El Salvador, regardless of visa status or residency in El Salvador. Visit the Embassy of El Salvador’s web site for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our Consular Affairs web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points.  These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present.  Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.  Minors traveling on Salvadoran passports and who are traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party must have the written permission of the absent parent(s) or legal guardian to depart El Salvador.  A Salvadoran notary must notarize this document.  If the absent parent(s) or legal guardian is (are) outside of El Salvador, the document must be notarized by a Salvadoran consul.  If a court decree gives custody of the child traveling on a Salvadoran passport to one parent, the decree and a passport will allow the custodial parent to depart El Salvador with the child.  Although Salvadoran officials generally do not require written permission for non-Salvadoran minors traveling on U.S. or other non-Salvadoran passports, it would be prudent for the parents of minor children traveling on U.S. passports to provide similar documentation if both parents are not traveling with their children.

Major Airports:

Airports:  75, Airports w/paved runways:  4

El Salvador Int’l Airport (SAL/MSLP)

El Salvador Airport, El Salvador, San Luis Talpa, Depto de la Paz, EL SALVADOR
Tel: +503 339-9455
Fax: +503 339-9245
E-mail: gerencia.aies@cepasal.com
Website: www.cepasal.com
Customs, hours:  08:00 – 16:00
Tel: +503 339-9281
Fax: +503 339-9281

Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

Most travelers to El Salvador experience no safety or security problems, but the criminal threat in El Salvador is critical. Random and organized violent crime is endemic throughout El Salvador. Armed holdups of vehicles traveling on El Salvador's roads appear to be increasing. In September 2005 U.S. citizens were victimized in two separate incidents. Strong undertows and currents can make swimming short distances from El Salvador's Pacific coast beaches extremely dangerous for even strong and experienced swimmers. The U.S. Embassy considers El Salvador a critical crime-threat country.  The homicide rate in the country increased 25 percent from 2004 to 2005, and El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.  Both violent and petty crimes are prevalent throughout El Salvador, and U.S. citizens have been among the victims.

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total:  22.88 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:  TOTAL 71.78 years  (male 68.18/female 75.57)

Immunization Indicators:

Required: None

Recommended: Hep A & B, Malaria, Rabies, Typhoid
Boosters: MMR, DPT

Infectious Disease Concerns:

Malaria risk: Rural areas of the departments of Santa Ana, Ahuachapán, and La Unión.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Myiasis (botfly) is endemic in Central America.

Overall Quality of Medical Services:

There are few private hospitals with an environment that would be acceptable to visiting Americans. The Embassy recommends that these hospitals be used only for emergency care, to stabilize a condition prior to returning to the U.S. for definitive evaluation and treatment. Private hospitals and physicians expect upfront payment (cash or, for hospitals, credit card) for all bills. Priority ambulance (503-2264-7911) is the only ambulance service in San Salvador approaching U.S. standards. Not all medicines found in the U.S. are available in El Salvador

Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 89
Referrals: 14
View Network Providers
Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Dengue epidemics have affected most countries in Central America in the past 5 years. Outbreaks of leptospirosis have occurred in travelers to the area (including whitewater rafters in Costa Rica and U.S. troops training in Panama). Sporadic cases and outbreaks of coccidioidomycosis and histoplasmosis have occurred in travelers to Central America. Risky activities include disturbing soil and entering caves and abandoned mines. Cutaneous larva migrans occurs in visitors, especially those visiting beaches. Outbreaks of leptospirosis have occurred in travelers to the area (including whitewater rafters in Costa Rica and U.S. troops training in Panama). Sporadic cases and outbreaks of coccidioidomycosis and histoplasmosis have occurred in travelers to Central America. Risky activities include disturbing soil and entering caves and abandoned mines. Cutaneous larva migrans occurs in visitors, especially those visiting beaches.

Communications Info:

Country Calling Code:  +503    
Internet Country Code:  .sv


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