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El Salvador

Located on the Pacific coast 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: 6,297,400
  • Life Expectancy: 72 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 90%
  • School Enrollment: 96%
  • Land Mass: 8,123 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 85%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 16/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 3,580

Facts about El Salvador

Economic Development

Forty percent of the population in El Salvador is made up of children, and 50 percent of them live in extreme poverty.

Child Protection

El Salvador has the second-highest number of homicides in the world, registering 69.2 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Food & Agriculture

More than 25 percent of children under 5 in El Salvador suffer from chronic malnutrition.

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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 2014.

  • To help ensure that children life in safe environments with opportunities for proper development, we worked with local partners to create action plans, organize activities, strengthen the quality of basic health and education services, and advocate for children's well-being.

  • Through early childhood development centers, children had access to spaces where they can develop their math, language, motor, and interpersonal skills. The centers aim to help children stay in school and improve their relationships with their friends and families.

  • Civil protection committees were established and trained in disaster preparedness and emergency response to keep children and their families safe in the event of disasters such as tropical storms or earthquakes.

  • Young people participated in youth clubs, which offer training in topics including reproductive and preventive health, entrepreneurship, Christian values, and life skills. Youth clubs also offer vocational workshops on baking, jewelry making, and piñata making to equip young people with valuable skills for the future.

  • Parent committees were organized to involve parents in their children's education and engage them in operating educational programs such as early childhood development centers.

  • Community health and nutrition clubs helped children grow and thrive by providing nutritious meals and educating parents on health, hygiene, nutrition, and early childhood development.

  • Children and their families participated in community Bible studies, deepening their faith and strengthening their moral values. The Bible study groups also came together to discuss and explore biblical solutions for challenges they face in their communities.

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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 30,600 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in El Salvador. Highlights include:

    • Providing after-school programs where children strengthen their reading comprehension, as well as their math and life skills, and are encouraged to stay in school and finish their primary education.
    • Educating teens through youth clubs that teach them to take care of themselves, as well as how to prevent HIV and increase their potential as individuals within their community.
    • Coordinating with public, private, and non-profit partners to address poverty, social injustice, violence, gender inequity, and children’s rights.

    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 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

    • Please pray for safety for children affected by societal and family violence who feel they must flee their homes to survive.
    • Pray also for churches to be a reflection of God’s love and hope for peace in communities torn apart by violence from organized crime and domestic abuse.