This week we travel to El Salvador! With a population of almost 7 million people, El Salvador is the most densely populated country in the Central Americas. It shares borders with Honduras and Guatemala and has a beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline. The country’s capital and largest city is San Salvador, and the country is divided into 14 departments, which are then divided into 262 municipalities.
On September 15th, 1821, El Salvador declared its independence from Spain. After, it experienced a series of revolutions and wars against other Central American republics, and was ruled by a series of military dictatorships. In 1969, El Salvador invaded Honduras after Honduran landowners deported several thousand Salvadorans. The four-day war was known as the “football war” because it started during a soccer game between El Salvador and Honduras. After, El Salvador suffered a 12-year civil war, which took the lives of over 75,000 people. Today, 37-year old Nayib Bukele now leads the country as president. His election broke the 30-year control that the National Republican Alliance and the National Liberation Front (FMLN) had on politics in El Salvador.
After the initial conquest by Spain, Spanish became the official language of El Salvador. The government made an effort to preserve native languages like Nahuatl, but sadly these efforts were not very successful. Religion also plays a large role in El Salvador, as approximately half of the population is Roman Catholic. About 35% are Protestant, while the rest are either nonreligious or adhere to other religions.
In their free time, Salvadorans love to play soccer and share meals together. Almost every home has a hammock hung on the porch, so much that the valley of San Salvador has the nickname “Valley of the Hammocks”. Salvadoran folk music is also very unique, because it was passed down from the eras of the Maya, the Spanish, and native groups. Traditional folk music is often performed for festivals or religious events.
Speaking of events, El Salvador also has a wide variety of food and drink, often consisting of corn, rice, beans, and lots of fresh fruits like coconuts, bananas, pineapples, mangos, and papayas. Pupusas are one of their comfort foods. It is a thick flatbread filled with cheese, beans, and sometimes meat. Sopa de pata is a soup made with tripe, yuca, corn, plantains, and many other vegetables. Fresco de ensalada is a drink that has chopped pineapple, mango, and oranges, mixed with lemon juice and sugar.