The smallest, most densely populated country in Central America, El Salvador packs in a population of over 6 million. Before Spanish rule, the country was inhabited by several different Mesoamerican Nations. From indigenous tribal living to massive colonalism, El Salvador has seen many shifts in power, culture, and way of life.
Now, the nation is seeing massive industrialization, while still keeping a hold of a more simplistic way of life. Its known as having some of the best surfing spots in Central America along its Pacific Coast. As you travel around its winding roads into the mountains, there are visible coffee farms stacked on the hillsides. It is known internationally for its coffee beans, just as much as it is known for its sweet hiking spots.
Getting lost in the adventure, it is quite possible that you will stumble upon a waterfall or drive up an inactive volcano. The landscape of El Salvador is endless, and it is a place that truly speaks to any type of traveler.
United States Dollar
Important dates in El Salvador
|Jan 1||Monday||New Year’s Day|
|Jan 16||Tuesday||Signing of the Peace Accords|
|Mar 8||Thursday||Women’s Day|
|Mar 20||Tuesday||March equinox|
|Mar 25||Sunday||Palm Sunday|
|Mar 26||Monday||National Day of Life, Peace and Justice|
|Mar 29||Thursday||Maundy Thursday|
|Mar 30||Friday||Good Friday|
|Mar 31||Saturday||Holy Saturday|
|Apr 1||Sunday||Easter Day|
|May 1||Tuesday||Labor Day / May Day|
|May 3||Thursday||Cross Day|
|May 7||Monday||Soldiers’ Day|
|May 10||Thursday||Mothers’ Day|
|Jun 17||Sunday||Fathers’ Day|
|Jun 21||Thursday||June Solstice|
|Jun 22||Friday||Teachers’ Day|
|Aug 4||Saturday||Celebrations of San Salvador|
|Aug 5||Sunday||Celebrations of San Salvador|
|Aug 6||Monday||Celebrations of San Salvador|
|Sep 15||Saturday||Independence Day|
|Sep 23||Sunday||September equinox|
|Oct 1||Monday||Children´s Day|
|Oct 12||Friday||Columbus Day|
|Nov 2||Friday||All Saints Day|
|Dec 21||Friday||December Solstice|
|Dec 24||Monday||Christmas Eve|
|Dec 25||Tuesday||Christmas Day|
|Dec 31||Monday||New Year’s Eve|
For more information on holidays in coming years, click here.
- El Salvador is known as the Land of Volcanos, as it has frequent earthquakes and eruptions.
- International surf competitions have taken and continue to take place because of the brilliance of its beaches.
- Salvadoran women often pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder, rather than shake hands.
- In El Salvador, guests are always served first.
Good to know
For people traveling from The United States and other countries in the Americas, it is a rather easy process to tour El Salvador. You need a passport and either a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card to enter El Salvador. You may obtain a tourist card when you arrive at the airport or seaport from immigration officials for a $10 fee. The card is valid for 90 day.
Check out the official government website for you specific native country to further research what you will need to do in order to get a visa for travels to and through El Salvador.
Culture and Etiquette in El Salvador
When stepping into this country, know that you are stepping into what used to be a violent war zone. Just a few decades ago, El Salvador experienced one of its biggest, brutalist wars in the nation’s history. Because of the mistrust that stemmed from this awful experience, be careful while traveling, keep your eyes and ears open, and plan accordingly. Although the history of violence does live, it should not deter eager travelers from enjoying all that the beautiful country has to offer.
While the local Spanish vernacular is called Caliche, Nahua, the indigenous language, is still used by small communities of elderly Salvadorans in western El Salvador. Two completely different cultures have meshed into one beautiful people. Many Spanish who settled the country intermarried with the Natives and thus the main group is made of ‘mestizos’ (mixed European and Native blood). Only 9% are pure European, usually belonging to the wealthiest families; and the remaining 1% are native Indian. The largest Native group is the Pipíl. They continue to believe in the traditional gods.
Here, traditional gender roles still prevail as the men are known to go to work, get paid, while women stay at home, take care of children, and the house duties. From birth, girls and boys are taught that they are different and will grow to have contrasting roles in society. In the last decade, the country has started to see a shift in this belief, as women have taken up jobs as nurses and teachers, but machismo is still deeply rooted.
When greeting someone, it is customary to shake hands. As a man, you wait until a woman extends her hand to give her a greeting; women who are close might hug and kiss on the right cheek. It is customary to bring gifts of flowers, pastries, or spirits when going to someone’s house. It is normal that the gift would be unwrapped or looked at right when received as a sign of appreciation. When eating, ensure that you are using fork and knife, even when consuming fruit.