El Salvador

El Salvador

Use High Level of Caution

The Republic of El Salvador is located in Central America between Guatemala and the Honduras. El Salvador has coastline on the North Pacific Ocean and is the only Central American country without coastline on the Caribbean Sea. The population is approximately 6 million people.

The government of El Salvador is a republic. A president is chief of state and head of government and is elected by popular vote.

From about 1980 to 1992, El Salvador experienced a 12-year civil war brought on by the huge inequality between the majority of the people who lived in abject poverty and the small, wealthy class who controlled the economy and the government. About 75,000 lives were lost. In 1992, the government and leftist rebels signed a treaty that brought about political and military reforms. When the country began to recover from over a decade of war, a series of natural disasters left 1200 dead and over a million people homeless. Much of the population still lives in poverty.

El Salvador experiences the ongoing problem of crime and has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Violent street gangs, maras, are a problem. The economy depends heavily on the money sent home by Salvadoreans living in the US. The government is encouraging the tourism sector which has grown in recent years.

Currency USD: US dollar
Language Spanish
Capital San Salvador
Recent Alerts 1
Latest Alert June 11, 2017 - Chikungunya infections in the Americas - update

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in El Salvador. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in El Salvador through contaminated food or water.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever outbreaks occur regularly in El Salvador.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in El Salvador.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in El Salvador. The risk is higher when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Chagas Disease

American trypanosomiasis (“Chagas disease”) occurs in rural El Salvador. The risk of travellers acquiring this disease is very low unless staying in very poor quality housing or camping.

Malaria

There is a very low risk of malaria in rural areas. Malaria might occur, especially along the border with Guatemala and Honduras and rural areas of Santa Ana, Ahuachapan and La Union.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis occurs in rural El Salvador but is extremely rare.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever has occurred in this country.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in this country. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Yellow Fever

There is no risk of yellow fever transmission. However, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age departing El Salvador, who are nationals of, or residents in, El Salvador, and who are travelling to countries/territories at risk for yellow fever transmission.

Zika Fever

There is transmission of the Zika virus in this country.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis occurs in this country. Travellers to this country are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to El Salvador.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities, rural areas, or staying with friends and family.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

There is no risk of yellow fever transmission. However, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age departing El Salvador, who are nationals of, or residents in, El Salvador, and who are travelling to countries/territories at risk for yellow fever transmission.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to El Salvador.

Anti-malarial Drugs

Anti-malarial medication is not recommended.

Safety and Security in El Salvador

Emergency Numbers

911

Operators generally speak Spanish.

Personal Safety

Violent crime, including rape, homicides, kidnapping, armed robbery, and carjacking, occurs throughout El Salvador. Gangs known as “maras” are behind much of the criminal activity in El Salvador, including unpredictable grenade attacks in public areas. Carjackings and express kidnappings occur, particularly against victims with newer vehicles. Victims are often held at gunpoint and forced to withdraw money from automated banking machines (ATMs).

Travellers have also been robbed while hiking in remote locations. Avoid showing signs of affluence, like expensive clothing, and ensure personal belongings and travel documents are kept safe. Do not travel alone or in isolated areas or after dark. Avoid demonstrations, protests, and public gatherings as they may become violent without warning.

Areas To Avoid

Areas with high crime and homicide rates include areas within San Salvador, La Libertad, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, and San Miguel. Travellers should avoid slums and low-income housing areas as they are generally high-crime areas. Violent attacks also occur in downtown areas.

Crossing the border into Guatemala is also dangerous due to reports of attacks and robberies at border crossings. There have been reports of armed robbers dressed as police officers setting up fake roadblocks to rob Salvadoran buses. The Las Chinamas crossing is particularly dangerous and should be avoided. If crossing the border into Guatemala, travellers are advised to keep the doors locked, do not stop for street vendors and only travel during daylight hours.

Political Unrest

Avoid demonstrations and protests, which can escalate and become violent without warning, particularly in and around the capital city and around the Salvador del Mundo monument.

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