El Salvador is one of the smallest, poorest and most densely populated nations in Central America. Unlike its neighboring countries, it does not border the Caribbean Sea, and it has no new frontiers into which people may move. Coffee production dominates El Salvador’s economy and provides the majority of the country’s jobs.
Further expansion of agriculture is difficult because of the limited land available for farming. Those who farm simply to survive, subsistence farmers, make up 40 percent of the population and have no empty lands available to them.
With 644 people per square mile, El Salvador’s population is three and a half times denser than Guatemala’s and up to 10 times denser than that of other Central American nations. The large population stretches natural resources to their breaking points and contributes to housing shortages caused by lack of available land. El Salvador’s educational system is compulsory. However, 30 percent of all children do not attend primary school. Adult literacy in cities approaches 80 percent but only about half of the people living in rural areas can read and write.
El Salvador achieved independence from Spain in 1821 and from the Central American Federation in 1839. A 12-year civil war, which cost about 75,000 lives, was brought to a close in 1992 when the government and leftist rebels signed a treaty that provided for military and political reforms.
By Age: (2010 est.)
0-14 years: 35.4% (male 1,299,608/female 1,245,617)
Median Age: (2010 est.)
Total: 23.9 years
Infant Mortality: (2010 est.)
Total: 21.52 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy: (2010 est.)
Total: 72.33 years