El Salvador achieved independence from Spain in 1821 and from the Central American Federation in 1839. A 12-year civil war, which cost about 75,000 lives, was brought to a close in 1992 when the government and leftist rebels signed a treaty that provided for military and political reforms. El Salvador is beset by one of the world’s highest homicide rates and pervasive criminal gangs.
chief of state: President Nayib Armando BUKELE Ortez (since 1 June 2019); Vice President Felix Augusto Antonio ULLOA Garay (since 1 June 2019); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Nayib Armando BUKELE Ortez (since 1 June 2019); Vice President Felix Augusto Antonio ULLOA Garay (since 1 June 2019)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president
elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a single 5-year term; election last held on 3 February 2019 (next to be held on February 2024)
election results: Nayib Armando BUKELE Ortez elected president – Nayib Armando BUKELE Ortez (GANA) 53.1%, Carlos CALLEJA Hakker (ARENA) 31.72%, Hugo MARTINEZ (FMLN) 14.41%, other 0.77%
description: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (84 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies and a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote to serve 3-year terms)
elections: last held on 4 March 2018 (next to be held in March 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party – ARENA 42.3%, FMLN 24.4%, GANA 11.5%, PCN 10.8%, PDC 3.2%, CD 0.9%, Independent 0.7%, other 6.2%; seats by party – ARENA 37, FMLN 23, GANA 11, PCN 8, PDC 3, CD 1, independent 1; composition -men 58, women 26, percent of women 31%
highest courts: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of 16 judges and 16 substitutes judges organized into Constitutional, Civil, Penal, and Administrative Conflict Chambers)
judge selection and term of office: judges elected by the Legislative Assembly on the recommendation of both the National Council of the Judicature, an independent body elected by the Legislative Assembly, and the Bar Association; judges elected for 9-year terms, with renewal of one-third of membership every 3 years; consecutive reelection is allowed
subordinate courts: Appellate Courts; Courts of First Instance; Courts of Peace
Political parties and leaders
- Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Rodolfo Antonio PARKER Soto]
- Democratic Change (Cambio Democratico) or CD [Douglas AVILES] (formerly United Democratic Center or CDU)
- Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN [Medardo GONZALEZ]
- Great Alliance for National Unity or GANA [Jose Andres ROVIRA Caneles]
- National Coalition Party or PCN [Manuel RODRIGUEZ]
- Nationalist Republican Alliance or ARENA [Mauricio INTERIANO]
- Nuevas Ideas [Federico Gerardo ANLIKER]
The smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador has the fourth largest economy in the region. With the global recession, real GDP contracted in 2009 and economic growth has since remained low, averaging less than 2% from 2010 to 2014, but recovered somewhat in 2015-17 with an average annual growth rate of 2.4%. Remittances accounted for approximately 18% of GDP in 2017 and were received by about a third of all households.
In 2006, El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, which has bolstered the export of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector amid increased Asian competition. In September 2015, El Salvador kicked off a five-year $277 million second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation – a US Government agency aimed at stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty – to improve El Salvador’s competitiveness and productivity in international markets.
The Salvadoran Government maintained fiscal discipline during reconstruction and rebuilding following earthquakes in 2001 and hurricanes in 1998 and 2005, but El Salvador’s public debt, estimated at 59.3% of GDP in 2017, has been growing over the last several years.
Unless otherwise specified, the information above comes from the Central Intelligence Agency’s The World Factbook. All photos and text reproduced here are in the public domain.