The 10 Most Dangerous Places In El Salvador in 2021

By Karla Ramos  | Updated on Feb 26th, 2022
Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador
San Salvador

The most dangerous places in El Salvador in 2021 were Ciudad Delgado, Apopa, San Salvador, Colon, Ilopango, Mejicanos, Ahuachapan, San Miguel, Santa Ana, and Tonacatepeque. The estimation is based on rate of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants and of places with a population of over 100,000 people.

Each of these places has dangerous areas, where visitors should think twice before going into it. However, they also have zones considered safe for locals and outsiders.

For example, San Salvador and Santa Ana are considered dangerous places. However, they have plenty of safe tourist areas and neighborhoods frequently visited by locals and foreigners.

Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador in 2021
Place Population 2021
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
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

The above homicide table was created from information provided by reporter Roberto Valencia on February 25th, 2022. Journalist Valencia regularly monitors the number of homicides in El Salvador.

The warfare between rival gangs (MS13 and Barrio18) for control of territory has maintained the cycle of violence in the country for more than 25 years.

Why are these places in El Salvador dangerous?

The places on this list are dangerous due to activities by criminal organizations who 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.

Criminal groups use all types of intimidation 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 dangerous places is unsafe. The dangerous zones are in specific areas or neighborhoods.

Is violence in these Salvadoran places declining?

Violence in El Salvador, especially homicides, is in decline. This reduction is evident in the number of violent homicides perpetuated since 2019.

Now, just because the homicide rate has declined does not mean that it is safe to venture into parts of these places.

Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador

The most dangerous places in El Salvador kept on changing 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.

The following is general information for each area, such as population, territorial extension, and geographical location.

San Salvador
San Salvador, Capital City of El Salvador.

1. Ciudad Delgado

Ciudad Delgado is part of the San Salvador Metropolitan area; it has a population of 123,258 inhabitants in 2022. The municipality belongs to the San Salvador department and limits with the municipalities of Apopa, Tonacatepeque, Soyapango, Cuscatancingo, Mejicanos and Ayutuxtepeque.

2. Apopa

Apopa is a municipality in the department of San Salvador; it has an area of about 51 square kilometers with a population of 155,466. Apopa is about 15 kilometers from downtown San Salvador.

3. San Salvador

San Salvador, the capital city of the smallest country in Central America, has for a long time been associated with crime.

El Salvador’s capital city was considered one of the most dangerous cities worldwide; however, as of 2019, San Salvador is no longer one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

San Salvador is the country’s political, cultural, educational, and financial center; it has a population of 335,982.

San Salvador
San Salvador Metropolitan Area.

4. Colon

Colon is a municipality in the department of La Libertad with a population of 120,088 inhabitants. The municipality has an area of about 84 square kilometers and is near Santa Tecla, one of the most wealthy cities in the country.

5. Ilopango

Ilopango is another municipality in the San Salvador department and part of the greater San Salvador metropolitan area with a population of 119,327. The municipality is a few miles east of the nation’s capital, San Salvador, near the famous Ilopango volcano caldera lake.

6. Mejicanos

Mejicanos is in the department of San Salvador and is part of the greater San Salvador metropolitan area. It has an area of about 22 square kilometers and has a population of 135,556 people. Mejicanos is next to Ciudad Delgado and San Salvador, two other places considered dangerous.

7. Ahuachapan

Ahuachapan is the principal municipality of the Ahuachapan Department in western El Salvador. The municipality, including the city, covers an area of 244.84 square kilometers and has a population of 124,421 residents.

8. San Miguel

San Miguel is the largest and most significant municipality in the eastern part of El Salvador. San Miguel has 216,800 residents; however, the number of people that visit the city daily is much larger than that.

The municipality is home to many University Campuses, healthcare facilities, governmental offices, shopping malls, and much more.

9. Santa Ana

The municipality of Santa Ana is in the western part of El Salvador; it is home to 251,095 people. Santa Ana is the commercial center of western El Salvador. It has coffee processing centers, many textile and manufacturing enterprises, and is a top tourist destination.

10. Tonacatepeque

Tonacatepeque is a municipality in the San Salvador department. It has a population of 103096 inhabitants. The municipality is about 12 kilometers from Apopa, another of the most dangerous places in El Salvador.

Most Dangerous Places in El Salvador

Most of the most dangerous places in El Salvador are located in the central part of the country near San Salvador, the capital city.

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