El Salvador is known for the tasty Pupusas, the excellent surf spots, President Nayib Bukele, the volcanoes, the warm beaches, and Bitcoin. Regrettably, El Salvador is also famous worldwide for the controversial State of Exception, gangs, and violence.
With a land of 21,041km², El Salvador is the smallest country in the American continent that is not an island. To get an idea of its size, El Salvador is about the same size as the state of New Jersey in the United States (22,591km²) and about the same size as the country of Israel (20,770km²).
However, despite having little land, El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Central America. The Salvadoran population in 2023 is 6,330,947, for an average of 300.89 people per square kilometer.
The Tasty Pupusas
Pupusa is the national dish of El Salvador; this tasty dish is so popular that it has its own holiday; “National Pupusa Day” is celebrated in El Salvador and many cities worldwide with large Hispanic populations on the second Sunday in November.
This traditional Salvadoran food will get more popular in 2022 as Amazon Prime created miniseries called “Las Pupusas.” You can view the trailer here!
The Amazon Las Pupusas miniseries seeks to make the typical Salvadoran dish visible to the world; the episodes will be broadcast on the Amazon streaming platform.
Salvadoran pupusas have gained worldwide popularity, transcending borders with their irresistible combination of thick, handmade corn tortillas stuffed with delicious fillings.
This Salvadoran creation has captivated taste buds globally, showcasing El Salvador’s culinary excellence and cultural richness.
The Excellent Surfing
El Salvador has always had great surf spots; however, due to the country’s civil war of the 1980s and the following levels of violence, it never got the deserved attention until 2019.
In 2019, the Bukele administration created the Surf City El Salvador project; its goal was to showcase the Salvadoran surf spots to the world.
Since 2019, the Salvadoran surf spots have been home to many world-noteworthy surfing tournaments, such as the last qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics. In 2023, the Salvadoran beaches hosted five world-renowned surf tournaments.
The fantastic surfing that is possible at the best surf spots in El Salvador is why people around the world know about the smallest country in Central America.
President Nayib Bukele
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele is known worldwide for his charismatic and unconventional governing style, often sporting a backward hat and defying traditional political norms.
His leadership and uncompromising approach have resonated with many, making him a unique and influential figure in El Salvador’s and Latin America’s political landscape.
Nayib Bukele has become well-known worldwide for many reasons; one of the most controversial is making El Salvador the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender.
Besides Bitcoin, the Salvadoran mandatary has gained notoriety for his authoritarian tendencies, removing judges and implementing drastic measures against gangs that many say have resulted in human rights violations.
Nevertheless, even with international organizations criticizing him, President Bukele maintains an impressive approval rate internally; the president’s approval has not fallen below 75% during his entire presidential term.
The Land of Volcanoes
El Salvador is known as the land of volcanoes. The country lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has 170 volcanoes in its 21,041 km² territory. Many of these stratovolcanoes are top tourist attractions; they are visited by thousands of local and foreign tourists.
Volcanoes such as Izalco, Santa Ana, and San Salvador are known worldwide. In 2023, we can add the Conchagua volcano to the list; it is the future site of El Salvador’s Bitcoin city.
El Salvador’s warm beaches along its Pacific coast are a paradise for sunseekers and water sports enthusiasts. With consistent waves and golden sands, destinations like La Costa del Sol, El Cuco, and El Zonte offer an ideal blend of relaxation and adventure.
These top-rated pristine beaches are another reason people know of El Salvador. El Salvador has perfect beaches for all visitors.
Bitcoin: a Salvadoran Legal Currency
Since 2021, when the Salvadoran legislature made Bitcoin a legal tender at the request of President Nayib Bukele, it seems that Bitcoin and El Salvador go hand in hand.
Nowadays, articles that mention Bitcoin and El Salvador in different languages are common occurrences; here are some examples in
Japanese. Since Bitcoin is volatile and controversial, it will continue to put El Salvador’s name in front of a worldwide audience.
El Salvador’s Controversial State of Exception
El Salvador’s controversial State of Exception, declared in late March 2022, granted the government extraordinary powers to fight criminal gangs. This security measure has helped El Salvador reach levels of security not seen in over 40 years.
The country known as the Murder Capital of the World in 2015 has, in 2023, achieved one of the lowest homicide rates in the Americas. The State of Exception is why it has achieved this low rate.
Nevertheless, it has ignited debates about civil liberties, with concerns over potential abuse of authority and a need for a balance between public security measures and individual human rights.
During the State of Exception, over 71,000 people have been arrested under gang-related criminal suspicions. Today, El Salvador has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.
Gangs in El Salvador
Gangs are another reason El Salvador is known worldwide. Salvadoran Criminal gangs have caused violence within the population that has led to extensive migration.
The Salvadoran gang phenomenon increased drastically from 2001; it peaked in violence around 2015 and 2016. During these times, El Salvador was known internationally as the murder capital of the world.
The daily homicide rate in El Salvador in 2015 was 18.2, or 103 Homicides per 100,000 Inhabitants.
Although the two more extensive gangs in El Salvador (MS13 & Barrio18) originated in the United States, they made El Salvador their home base. Over the last 30 years, El Salvador has been in the news constantly due to gangs.
Violence in El Salvador
The violence perpetuated by Salvadoran gangs since 2001 forced many Salvadorans to leave their homes to protect themselves and their families. These high levels of violence were known worldwide.
Before 2020, El Salvador was constantly in the top 25 most dangerous countries in the world. Look at the following table and compare the homicides in El Salvador since 2010.
|Year||Total Homicides||Daily Homicide Rate||Homicides per 100,000 Inhabitants|
(Jan 1 to Oct 7)
Even though the homicide rate in El Salvador in 2023 is low and gang activity has declined, many people worldwide still perceive the Central American nation as a dangerous and violent place full of gang members.
What is El Salvador known for worldwide?
El Salvador is renowned worldwide for many things, such as its tasty Pupusas, its stunning Pacific coast beaches, the excellent surf spots, Bitcoin, and President Nayib Bukele, to name a few.
Since 2019, El Salvador has been trying to change how it is perceived by those outside its territory. To that effect, the government is using tourism, especially surfing, as a tool to achieve its goal.
The current administration uses the Surf City El Salvador project as a tool to display the fantastic Salvadoran coastline and demonstrate that El Salvador is now more than what it used to be. El Salvador is a different country now than in 2019!