San Salvador is no longer one of the Most Dangerous Cities in the World

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Jan 1st, 2023
San Salvador Historic Downtown
San Salvador Historic Downtown

San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital city, is not one of the most dangerous cities in the world. According to the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, San Salvador left the list as one of the top 50 most dangerous cities in the world in 2019.

The cities of El Salvador (in particular the capital city, San Salvador) disappeared from the map of the 50 most violent cities in the world in 2019. In 2015, San Salvador was ranked third. It is an extraordinary result that must be recognized.” Tiziano Breda.

Leaving this list is great for the capital city, considering that San Salvador had been part of the list since 2008 and was 3rd in 2015.

San Salvador’s Ranking Since 2013
Year Homicides per 100,000
Council Rank
2019 to 2022
2018 50.32 24th
2017 59.06 17th
2016 83.39 7th
2015 108.54 3rd
2014 61.21 13th
2013 44.74 27th

Safety has Improve in San Salvador

Thanks to the effort of the Salvadoran police and security forces, safety and security have improved in the nation’s capital and the entire country.

For the first time in over 25 years, the homicide rate in El Salvador per 100,000 people reached single digits; it was 9.7 in 2022. San Salvador was not even in the top ten most dangerous places in El Salvador in 2022.

The improved security has benefited the capital city, a place known for years for its high levels of violence. In 2022, San Salvador ranked 14 on the list of the most dangerous places in El Salvador, with a population of over 50,000 people.

Homicides in the city of San Salvador
Year Total Homicides Homicides per 100,000
Most dangerous place in
El Salvador rank
2022 31 9.23 14
2021 91 27.00 *3
Sources: Salvadoran National Police. PNC *Cities with population of over 100,000 people

Even if we include all the heavily populated municipalities around the capital city of San Salvador, what is known as the San Salvador metropolitan area, the rate is low.

The metropolitan area includes San Salvador, Santa Tecla, Ciudad Delgado, San Marcos, Mejicanos, Soyapango, Ilopango, and San Martin.

Homicides in the San Salvador Metropolitan Area
Year Population Total Homicides Homicides per 100,000
2022 1,252,955 97 7.74
2021 1,254,883 211 16.81

Reported Roberto Valencia, author of the book “CARTA DESDE ZACATRAZ,” created a list of the Salvadoran municipalities with the highest and lowest homicide rates in 2021.

Can San Salvador maintain its security levels?

The Bukele administration has clearly declared a frontal attack on criminal organizations. This has resulted in the arrest of over 60,000 alleged gang members since march 2022, during the controversial Regimen of Exception.

San Salvador has a good chance to stay out of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world; if the government continues with its direct approach against organized crime.

The Bukele territorial control plan has been in effect since June 2019 and has produced positive results. 2020 set a record low in homicides; the record was broken in 2021 and again in 2022.

In late March 2022, the Salvadoran Legislature, at the request of President Bukele, approved a State of Exception that canceled some constitutional rights. The measure, which has helped lowering homicide rates, has been extended over eight times.

However, the U.S. Government and many NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has accused the Bukele administration of human rights violations. Especially since the State of Exception began in March 2022.

Also, Bukele’s opposition claims that the government has achieved this low homicides records by negotiating a secret truce with gangs to reduce homicides.

If the accusations of a truce are true, then the homicide rate might be in jeopardy. However, in the meantime, Bukele’s actions against gangs have the approval of most Salvadorans.

San Salvador is Safer now!

Safety in San Salvador can improve; there is plenty of room for it. But for now, locals can see a change in how things are in the capital city. Overall, people are optimistic and feel safer in San Salvador.

The city of San Salvador is safer than it was during most of the 2010s. Don’t get me wrong; San Salvador still has areas that are not safe; nevertheless, the hope is that it changes soon.

Salvadorans are extremely happy that San Salvador is not on the list of the top 50 most dangerous cities in the world.