Salvador is a country in Central America, located on the Pacific coast. The maximum length of the country from west to east is only 200 km. However, almost a quarter of the population of Central America lives here - about 5.1 million people. Salvador is the only country in Central America that does not have access to the Caribbean. The state language is Spanish. More than 92% of the population is Ladino mestizo, descendants of mixed marriages of whites and Indians. The capital of the country is San Salvador (884 thousand inhabitants).
On the territory of El Salvador there are ruins of ancient cities and other monuments of the extinct Indian civilizations of the Maya and Aztec. Salvador gained independence from Spain in 1821, creating a federal state together with neighboring countries. After the collapse of the federal republic in 1841, Salvador has become an independent state. Over its 150-year history, the republic experienced about 130 coups d'etat related to the continuous struggle between local conservatives and liberals.
El Salvador is often called the "edge of lakes and volcanoes." The main part of its territory is a volcanic highland, lying above 600 m above the sea level. Thanks to the height, the climate here is moderately hot. The year is divided into two seasons - dry (November-April) and rainy (May-October). It is on the highlands, with its fertile volcanic soils and non-humid climate, that 75% of the country's population live, the capital and other large cities - Kohutepec, San Miguel, Sonsonate, etc. - are located. However, the majority of the population is rural residents. On more than 75% of the territory of El Salvador they do agriculture - coffee, cotton, sugar cane and other crops are grown for export.
Nature and climate:
Most of the country is a volcanic highland, the surface is deeply dissected by river valleys. Within the highlands, two chains of volcano cones (mostly dead) rise in a sub-latitudinal strike. The height of these cones is between 1200 and 2381 meters (Santa Ana Volcano in the west of the country). The capital of the country is located at a height of approximately 600 m. In the intermountain basins filled with volcanic ash there are lakes. There are earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Most of the coffee plantations of El Salvador are located on fertile soils of the plateau developed on volcanic rocks.
The volcanic plateau is separated from the shore of the Pacific by a strip of coastal plain, reaching the greatest width (40 km) in the Lemura estuary area. In places, the plains are traversed by spurs of mountains, which are cut off by steep ledges to the ocean.
The main river of El Salvador is Lempa. From the mountains of Guatemala it flows through the territory of Honduras and along the territory of El Salvador east for about 100 km, afterwards it turns south and, crossing the volcanic highlands, flows into the ocean. The sub-latitudinal section of the river is confined to a deep tectonic depression. During the rainy season the river bearing silty sediments is very deep and comes out of the shores in many locations, but during dry season it becomes shallow and almost dries out. Fertile soils were formed by volcanic rocks and alluvial deposits.
The climate of El Salvador is tropical trade winds. In most parts of the country (with the exception of the highest ridges on the border Guatemala and volcanic peaks), the temperature is constantly above 18 ° C. In the city of San Salvador the average annual temperature is 23 ° C, the difference in the mean temperatures of the warmest and coldest months does not exceed 3 ° C. From May to October throughout the country there is heavy rainfall brought by the winds from the Pacific Ocean, but for the rest of the day dry northern winds and rain hardly prevail. In San Salvador the average annual precipitation is 1750 mm, 1600 mm of which falls during a rainy season. In the past, the country was covered with forests, but most of them were destroyed. Some areas on the slopes of volcanoes have preserved oak and pine forests, the slopes of the valley of the river Lempa are covered with herbaceous savannah and shrubs.
The main attractions of El Salvador are its volcanoes and archaeological heritage of ancient Indian civilizations. The capital of San Salvador, which is located at the foot of the majestic volcano, is now being reconstructed. Its main treasures are the Cathedral of the Catedral Metropolitan, the Church of El Rosario and the Archaeological Museum of Tasumal. Near the capital there are the ruins of the Mayan settlement (Hoja de Seren), which represent the remains of a village destroyed by the volcano. Also nearby there is an archaeological complex of San Andres - one of the largest sites of pre-Columbian culture of the country.
East El Salvador is remarkable because of its wild landscape, high volcanoes and rich coffee plantations. In this place the most interesting is the city of San Vicente, where monuments of the colonial past are still preserved. Near the city there are many notable places, including the Mayan ruins of Tehuacan.
The most important historical place of El Salvador is the archaeological site of the Mayan period of Chiuatang, where many different structures and burial sites as well as unique artifacts had been discovered. However, the place of the largest archaeological excavations in El Salvador is Tasumal, which is recognized as one of the most important cities of the disappeared civilization.
Among other landmarks of the country are rock paintings in the grottoes of Grutas del Espirito Santo, the Museum of the Salvadoran Revolution (Perkin city), the dilapidated quarters of the city of San Salvador Ciudad Vieja (the very first capital of El Salvador), the town of Suchitoto, which is recognized as the most beautiful colonial city of the country, and the Cathedral of Tempo del Senor de Jesus in the town of Huayua. Tourists and travelers should visit the Bosque el Impossible National Park and the city of Santa Ana, the main treasures of which are the picturesque Lake Coatepec, the Cathedral of Santa Ana and three volcanic peaks.
The traditional cuisine of Salvador is based on a mixture of Indian and Spanish culinary traditions, and you can try it at any local restaurant or a snack bar. The most common menu items here are a mix of rice and beans cassiento and a poppies tortilla with fried beans, homemade cheese, pork bacon, cabbage or hot sauce.
Also, a popular snack offered by street vendors is pastels (patties with meat). Often there are sandwiches from two flat cakes with roast pork, cheese or sausage.
If you look into a typical national restaurant, you can try more interesting dishes: arros (fried rice), tamale (meat that wraps corn dough and fried on a banana leaf), polo-dorado (fried chicken), sopa- Frejoles (bean soup) and carne-asada (fried beef). Also, the most common dishes include pane-con-pava (small rolls with poultry meat and salad), bocas (the common name for all kinds of snacks) and various exotic delicacies (roast iguana, fried armadillo, etc.). Popular in El Salvador are seafood dishes, for example, mariska (seafood in creamy sauce).
Well, the most popular drink of El Salvador is the coffee grown here, which is famous for its excellent quality. In addition, strong black tea and a variety of drinks from sugar cane and juices, as well as orchata (a drink made of milk, rice, sugar and cinnamon) and sebad (from barley and cinnamon) are considered to be the most common local drinks. As far as alcohol, local varieties of beer and aguardiente (reed rum) are most popular. In large cities, almost all types of imported alcoholic beverages are available.
Hotels of Salvador are mainly large resort complexes, with swimming pools, spa centers, gyms, tennis courts and playgrounds. And some of the hotels are family oriented, so they have 24-hour babysitting services. The official language of El Salvador is Spanish, but the staff of most hotels speaks fluent English.
The most expensive hotels are located along the Pacific coast. These are usually multi-storey hotel buildings of international hotel chains (Hilton, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Sheraton and Holiday Inn). There are also small family hotels in El Salvador, which are analogues to European B & B hotels. The cost of living in El Salvador is acceptable, but it is traditionally increasing during the annual carnival (February or March). And rooms during this period should be booked in advance.
Entertainment and recreation
Today tourism industry of El Salvador is just beginning to develop, so entertainment facilities, a variety of restaurants and nightclubs are available only in major cities and hotel complexes. However, travelers are attracted not by the country's cities, but by its countless rivers, majestic volcanoes, amazing lakes and mysterious constructions of the Mayan civilization. Therefore, the most popular attractions here are excursions to archaeological sites and natural attractions, as well as outdoor activities. The stormy waters of the Lempa River are very good for kayaking and rafting. Western regions of the country are most attractive for travelers; tourist excursion infrastructure is best developed here.
The most popular beach of the country is La Libertad, which is located near the capital. The beaches in the area of La Costa del Balsamo are highly visited.
It is worth saying that the coast of El Salvador is a strip of sandy beaches with wild rocks and mangrove forests. And there are colorful fishing villages and clean wide beaches. Also interesting are the islands of the Gulf of Fonseca Bay, which offer excellent conditions for boat trips, yachts and boats. Flocks of whales and dolphins regularly appear in these places.
Salvador is famous for its noisy and colorful holidays, festivals and carnivals. Among them the most popular are Christmas, Semana Santa (the week-long festival before Easter) and the annual El Salvador del Mundo festival. During these festivities colorful carnivals and parades, football battles and fireworks take place in all cities of the country.
In El Salvador, tourists like to buy a large number of interesting and distinctive souvenirs, which are sold both in traditional markets and in stores. First of all, these are the objects of folk art, which combine Indian and Spanish traditions. The most common are ceramic products with drawings and ornaments of Mayan tribes that lived here: kitchen utensils, vases, figurines and much more. Also local traders offer original products made of straw and turtle shell, shaman masks, stone figures of people and a kind of souvenir - a palm nut called tagua. In addition, among tourists, such goods as dried butterflies, "musical frogs", national clothes, beads and bracelets made of leather or bright threads, and coffee are in great demand.
Another interesting purchase is paintings with images of parrots or local landscapes, which are sold in art salons. Well, if you want to buy something more expensive, then it's worth going to the local jewelry stores where you can find very unique jewelry.
In El Salvador in most private shops and in all markets you can get bargains, and the discounts offered here are very significant. It is worth noting that most local traders overprice their merchandise for foreigners, but then they gradually reduce them.