El Salvador Country ProfileThe Republic of El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America, with a population of approximately 6.42 million, and Spanish as the main language.
Between 1980 – 1992, El Salvador experienced a 12 year long civil war between rightwing government forces (backed by the US) and leftwing FMLN guerrillas which ended in 1992 but left 70,000 people dead.
El Salvador's economy has historically been dominated by agriculture, but has recently undergone rapid industrialisation. However, the country continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, inequality, and crime, including extensive gang violence and one of the world’s highest murder rates. In 2015 El Salvador was experiencing an average of nearly 30 murders per day, when a truce between the 2 country’s main gangs began to fall apart in 2014.
Why are people fleeing for safety in other countries?Gangs continue to cause fear by exercising territorial control and extorting residents throughout the country. They forcibly recruit children and subject some women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals to sexual slavery. Gangs kill, disappear, rape, or displace those who resist them, including government officials, security forces, and journalists.
Security forces have not been able to protect the population from gang violence and have committed abuses, including the extrajudicial execution of alleged gang members, sexual assaults, and enforced disappearances.
Girls and women who are accused of having had abortions have been imprisoned for murder, as abortion is illegal. LGBT individuals also face discrimination and violence.
There has been a massive exodus of Salvadorans to the US over the past three decades, fleeing unemployment, the civil war, natural disasters, gang violence and human rights abuses. As a result, one in three Salvadorans currently lives in the US and remittances sent by them are now El Salvador’s main source of income.
Human Rights Watch Country Reports
Amnesty International Country Reports