Capital | San Salvador
Population | 6,071,774 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 21,040 SQ KM
Official Language | Spanish, Nahua
Holidays | Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Currency | Dollar (USD)
Time Zone | UTC-6
Best Time to Visit | November to April (the dry season)
Connecting with the Culture | Hiking in the mountains surrounding the former guerrilla stronghold of Perquín. Stepping off the Ruta de las Flores to visit the string of charming little towns in the cool western highlands. Visiting the weekend food fair at Juayúa. Checking out the laid-back vibe and happening arts scene in Suchitoto. Catching the bus from Metapάn to El Poy through El Salvador’s spectacular mountain scenery.
Read | Cuentos de Barro (Tales of Mud) by Salarrúe (one of El Salvador’s most famous writers); the poetry of Manlio Argueta and Francisco Rodriguez.
Listen | to the underground movement of canción popular (folk music), which draws its inspiration from current events.
Watch | Salvador, the story of a war correspondent directed by Oliver Stone, for Hollywood’s insights into the civil war.
Eat | pupusas (cornmeal dough stuffed with farmer’s cheese, refried beans or fried pork fat) or panes (French breads sliced open and stuffed with chicken, salsa, salad, and pickled vegetables).
Drink | licuados (refreshing blended fruit and milk) or Torito (a vodka-like spirit made from sugar cane).
In a Word | Cheque (all right)
Characteristics | Bitter civil war; liberation theology; coffee; surfing; volcanoes; circling vultures; lush cloud forest.
Surprises | El Salvador enjoys the highest minimum wage in Central America; 9% of Salvadorans are considered of full European ancestry, while only 1% is indigenous.