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El Salvador

Located on the Pacific Coast of Central America between Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. El Salvador experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity, making it known as the “land of volcanoes.”

  • Population: 6,193,000
  • Life Expectancy: 72 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 87%
  • School Enrollment: 94%
  • Land Mass: 8,123 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 84%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 16/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 3,360

Facts about El Salvador

Economic Development

About 7 percent of Salvadoran workers are unemployed, and over 30 percent of people live below the poverty line.

Child Protection

Crime rates remain very high in El Salvador, negatively affecting the economy. Increasing gang-related violence among youth led to all-time high level of homicide and other crimes in 2009.

Food & Agriculture

The World Food Program estimates that 18 percent of children under age 5 are chronically under-nourished.

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Progress in El Salvador

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Helped young people ages 13-20 participate in youth clubs where they learned faith-based values and life-skills in health, disaster preparedness, and communication, and were encouraged to develop goals for their lives.

  • Worked with local citizens and government institutions to organize child protection committees, which promote the well-being of children through community activities and festivals, helping ensure girls and boys can live in a safer environment.

  • Helped train future leaders through municipal youth councils, giving young people a place to express their opinions, build their confidence, and participate in making their community a better place to live.

  • Assisted emergency preparedness groups in the community, providing them with training in disaster prevention and response strategies.

  • Enabled kids ages seven to 12 to participate in community children's clubs, where they learned skills to help them succeed at school and values to help strengthen their family relationships.

  • Trained teachers and supported early childhood development centers, benefiting kids under the age of five with age-appropriate educational and social skills.

  • Worked with parents of young children through a program called "Circles of Good Health and Nutrition." Parents learned about simple ways to prevent disease, like appropriate handwashing techniques, and also learned about good nutritional practices, such as the benefits of breastfeeding and how to establish community garden plots.

  • Encouraged moms and dads to support their children's education by participating in parent committees, which provide support to children and youth clubs in the community.

  • Helped people participate in Bible reading groups and strengthen their relationships with family, neighbors, and God.

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    World Vision in El Salvador Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of El Salvador to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 21,500 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in El Salvador. Highlights include:

    • Improving educational quality and opportunities for children.
    • Helping provide adequate care for children and adolescents with physical and/or speech impairments
    • Offering loans to Salvadorans struggling with poverty in order to help improve their lives.

    World Vision History in El Salvador

    World Vision began its work in El Salvador in 1975, initiating a child sponsorship program through five school projects. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Offering communities education, nutrition, healthcare, literacy, and job resources during the 1980s.
    • Providing relief supplies and aid to thousands of people affected by two major earthquakes in 1986.
    • Helping communities recover and rebuild after the end of the civil war since 1992.
    • Encouraging economic development by providing credit to families in the 1990s.
    • Assisting thousands of people with food, water, medicine, and other relief supplies after natural disasters since the beginning of the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Located on the Pacific Coast of Central America between Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. El Salvador experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity, making it known as the “land of volcanoes.”

    The climate is tropical along the coast and more temperate in the highlands. Natural resources include hydropower, geothermal power, petroleum, and arable land.

    About 90 percent of Salvadorans are mestizo—mixed Amerindian and Spanish heritage. Nearly everyone speaks Spanish, the country’s official language, although people also speak English and the native language Nahua.

    Salvadorans are industrious people, valuing hard work over income level. Even those who are unemployed or struggle with poverty work hard to provide food, clothing, and other essentials for their families.


    In 1821, El Salvador and several other Central American provinces declared independence from Spain and formed the United Provinces of Central America. El Salvador became an independent republic after the federation disbanded in the late 1830s.

    Frequent revolutions marked the country’s early history. El Salvador did not achieve national stability until the early 20th century. Following a decline in democracy in the 1970s, a period of civil war plagued the country from 1980 to 1992, killing more than 75,000 people.

    As El Salvador began recovering from the war, Hurricane Mitch hit in 1998, and a series of earthquakes shook the country in 2001. Since then, several more natural disasters have impacted El Salvador, including tropical storms Ida in 2009 and Agatha in 2010.

    Prayer Requests for El Salvador

    • Early childhood development centers to be successful at preparing kids to succeed in first grade.
    • Young people involved in gangs to find opportunities to safely reintegrate into society.
    • The protection of children and families from high rates of violence and crime.
    • Communities to receive much-needed resources and assistance so they can overcome poverty.