El Salvador

El Salvador is located in Central America. It borders Guatemala, Honduras, and the Pacific Ocean.

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For most of its existence as an independent country, El Salvador has been plagued by revolutions. This culminated in a civil war that broke out soon after the archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, a symbol of peaceful resistance to a repressive government, was assassinated in 1980. Rallies turned violent, and, in 1981, leftist political parties joined forces with guerilla groups to combat the military government.

At this time, the United States’ foreign policy saw a dramatic change as President Ronald Reagan took office. President Jimmy Carter had championed human rights during his tenure and, thus, had sanctioned El Salvador’s government,. But, Reagan, seeing the aggregation of radical leftist groups as a Communist threat in the region, backed the government with military and financial aid, serving to fuel the 12-year war that saw over 75,000 Salvadorans die.

The war ended in a peace agreement that was largely the result of a report written by Joe Moakley, a U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts who visited El Salvador after Congress started to doubt the State Department’s accounts of the war. He found a conflict that was much more brutal than the U.S. was lead to believe, riddled with conspiracies and cover-ups.

The peace agreement, brokered by the United Nations, ended the military’s stronghold on the country and allowed the leftist forces to become an effectual political party.

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GDP as of 2011

  • Purchasing power parity: $44.78 billion (USD)
  • Official exchange rate: $22.6 billion (USD)
  • Per capita: $7,600 (USD)

Remittances (money that is sent from migrants in foreign countries back to their home country) accounted for 17 percent of El Salvador’s GDP in 2011.

GDP composition by sector:

  • Agriculture: 10.6%
  • Industry: 30%
  • Services: 59.3%

Unemployment rate as of 2011: 7%

Inflation rate as of 2011: 5.1%

Exports as of 2011: $5.309 billion (USD)

Offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, textiles and apparel, gold, ethanol, chemicals, electricity, and iron and steel manufactures

Imports as of 2011: $10.2 billion (USD)

Raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, and electricity