The 10 Most Dangerous Places In El Salvador in 2022, based on Homicides

By Eddie Vasquez  | Updated on Sep 1st, 2022
Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador
San Salvador

The most dangerous places in El Salvador in 2022 are Ciudad Delgado, Ahuachapan, Apopa, Santa Ana, Colon, Ilopango, San Salvador, Santa Tecla, San Miguel, and Mejicanos. The estimation is based on the rate of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants and of places with a population of over 100,000 people, as of August 31st, 2022.

If we include municipalities with over 50,000 inhabitants, then the top ten most dangerous places change. Izalco, Nahuizalco, and Quezaltepeque jump into the first three spots, and Ilopango, San Salvador, Santa Tecla, San Miguel, and Mejicanos drop off the top ten list.

The following homicide stats might contradict government stats as it includes the deaths of alleged criminals who died while in confrontation with Salvadoran security forces.

Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador
Over 100,000 inhabitants as of August 31st, 2022
2022
Rank
2021
Rank
Municipality Population 2022
Homicides
Rate per 100,000
inhabitants
1 1 Ciudad Delgado
San Salvador
123,258 14 11.36
2 7 Ahuachapan
Ahuachapan
125,544 13 10.35
3 2 Apopa
San Salvador
155,466 15 9.65
4 9 Santa Ana
Santa Ana
251,095 24 9.56
5 4 Colon
La Libertad
120,088 11 9.16
6 5 Ilopango
San Salvador
119,327 10 8.38
7 3 San Salvador
San Salvador
335,982 28 8.33
8 Santa Tecla
La Libertad
127,294 9 7.07
9 8 San Miguel
San Miguel
215,597 15 6.96
10 6 Mejicanos
San Salvador
135,556 7 5.16
11 10 Tonacatepeque
San Salvador
103,213 5 4.84
12 Soyapango
San Salvador
258,672 10 3.87

The homicide rate in El Salvador has dropped drastically in 2022 compared to the previous four years. It has gone from a rate of 36 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019 to an estimated 12.2 rate in 2022.

Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador
50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants as of August 31st, 2022
2022
Rank
Municipality Population 2022
Homicides
Rate per 100,000
inhabitants
13 Izalco
Sonsonate
86,085 18 20.91
14 Nahuizalco
Sonsonate
59,245 9 15.19
15 Quezaltepeque
La Libertad
65,573 8 12.20
16 La Libertad
La Libertad
53,324 6 11.25
17 Ilobasco
Cabañas
69,096 6 8.68
18 Sonsonate
Sonsonate
80,817 7 8.66
19 Chalchuapa
Santa Ana
76,565 6 7.84
20 San Martin
San Salvador
92,508 7 7.57
21 San Vicente
San Vicente
56,574 4 7.07
22 Panchimalco
San Salvador
53,256 3 5.63
23 San Juan Opico
La Libertad
89,654 5 5.58
24 Metapan
Santa Ana
71,949 4 5.56
25 Ciudad Arce
La Libertad
72,051 4 5.55
26 San Pedro Perulapan
Cuscatlan
56,159 3 5.34
27 San Marcos
San Salvador
60,358 3 4.97
28 Usulutan
Usulutan
71,687 3 4.18
29 Cuscatancingo
San Salvador
75,650 3 3.97
30 Zacatecoluca
La Paz
82,415 3 3.64
31 Cojutepeque
Cuscatlan
54,748 1 1.83
32 Acajutla
Sonsonate
58,252 1 1.72

Each place on the top ten list could be considered dangerous to visit or live in just by looking at the stats alone. However, not the entire municipality is unsafe; they have zones considered safe for locals and outsiders to visit or live in.

For example, looking at statistics alone, Santa Ana, San Salvador, and Santa Tecla are considered dangerous places. However, they have plenty of safe tourist areas and neighborhoods frequently visited by locals and foreigners. Also, they have some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador in 2021
Place Population 2021
Homicides
Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
1 Ciudad Delgado
San Salvador
123,258 45 36.6
2 Apopa
San Salvador
155,466 43 27.6
3 San Salvador
San Salvador
335,982 91 27.0
4 Colon
La Libertad
120,088 26 21.8
5 Ilopango
San Salvador
119,327 21 17.6
6 Mejicanos
San Salvador
135,556 24 17.6
7 Ahuachapan
Ahuachapan
124,421 20 16.1
8 San Miguel
San Miguel
216,800 26 12.0
9 Santa Ana
Santa Ana
251,095 29 11.5
10 Tonacatepeque
San Salvador
103,096 9 8.7
El Salvador is best known for
San Salvador, El Salvador Capita City,

Is violence in these Salvadoran places declining?

Why are these places in El Salvador dangerous?

The places on this list are dangerous due to illicit activities by criminal organizations that operate in the areas. These groups look to maintain control of the region they already have. But also want to take control of new territory.

The warfare between rival gangs MS13 and Barrio18 for control of territory is one of the principal reasons the cycle of violence in the country has been high for more than 20 years.

Criminal groups use intimidation and extortion to keep residents in their controlled communities under control. Furthermore, they do not like outsiders, who they don’t know, entering their controlled zones.

It is necessary to mention that not the entire territory in these so-called dangerous places is unsafe. The dangerous zones are in specific areas or neighborhoods of the municipalities.

Violence in El Salvador, especially homicides, has drastically declined since the Bukele administration began on June 1st, 2019. July 2022 set a record low in the daily homicide rate with 0.70 daily fatalities. A tremendous drop compared to the 6.6 daily rates of 2019.

The Bukele administration credits the reduction in violence and homicide to its security plan, “Territorial Control Plan.” However, reports have surfaced that claim this reduction is due to a secret pact between the government and criminal organizations.

Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador

The most dangerous places in El Salvador change every year. Also, just because a particular location has a low homicide rate does not make it safe to visit. It is essential to use common sense while venturing into these areas.


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