Children eating from mugs

El Salvador

Capital City:

San Salvador


6.14 million

Life expectancy:

male 71.14 years, female 77.86 years

Population with improved drinking water:

 urban 97.5%, rural 86.5%

Infant mortality rate:


Under 5 mortality rate:


Adult literacy rate:

 male 90.4%, female 86%


Roman Catholic 57.1%, Protestant 21.2%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.9%, Mormon 0.7%, other religions 2.3%, none 16.8% (2003 est.)

Percentage living on less than $1.90 a day:


A little bit of history

El Salvador is the smallest, but also one of the most violent, countries in Central America. It is still recovering from the 12-year civil war that began in 1980 and left more than 70,000 dead. In 1992 a peace agreement ended the war, but as the country began to recover it was hit by two earthquakes and two major droughts that caused more suffering.

Despite political reforms the inequality between the wealthy elite and the poor majority still exists with crime, poverty, social instability and insecurity daily ingredients of life.

How the country makes a living

The smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador has the fourth largest economy in the region, with main exports of processed foods, sugar and ethanol. The country still depends heavily on foreign money sent home form El Salvadorians working in the US. Plunging coffee prices have also forced plantations to cut production and lay off workers, forced many families even deeper into poverty.

Challenges faced by children in El Salvador

Despite political reforms, the inequality between the wealthy elite and the poor is huge. As families search for a better life, many flood to El Salvador’s cities only to be greeted with even greater poverty. In the country’s growing slums, children in El Salvador are at risk of gang violence and drug abuse every single day. In fact, a recent UNICEF report suggests that a growing number of children and families from Central America attempt the dangerous and expensive journey to the US in a desperate attempt to escape the threat of violence in their communities.

Compassion in El Salvador

Compassion began working in El Salvador in 1977. Currently, more than 60,078 children participate in 275 child development centres.

Sponsor a child in El SALVADOR and empower them to overcome poverty

When you sponsor a child in El Salvador you bring them hope for the future. In El Salvador, children typically attend their Compassion projects before and after school. During a typical day, sponsored children will participate in activities such as ...

  • Prayer and devotional time.
  • Spiritual lessons. Children sing songs and learn Bible stories. Children are provided with age-appropriate Bibles.
  • Break time. Children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships.
  • Social lessons. From conflict resolution to developing healthy self-esteem, children who often come from challenging home environments are taught social and personal skills.
  • Food and social time. Each child receives a nutritious meal every time they go to the project. A typical meal consists of some type of carbohydrate, such as bread or tortillas, and protein such as soy, meat or chicken. This can include sandwiches, soup, rice pudding, pupusas (tortilla filled with cheese and beans), or enchiladas. Children who malnourished are provided with additional nutritional supplements.
  • Health lessons. Children are taught practical health and hygiene tips.
  • Letter writing and career planning. Older children work with project staff to identify their strengths and interests, setting realistic goals for their future.

Additional activities offered by projects in El Salvador:

  • Adolescents are involved in vocational training activities such as computer literacy, tailoring, dress making, beauty, baking, poultry production, fish farming, silk screening, rabbit farming and bean, corn and vegetable farming.
  • Children are offered extracurricular activities such as camps, drama, football, painting and museum visits. Parents meet once a month to learn a variety of topics.

Sponsor a child in El Salvador


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