El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated Central American country. El Salvador borders with Honduras to the South and East and with Guatemala to the North West.
The natural landscape of this tiny country is as intense as its recent history, and visitors are beginning to appreciate its wild beauty. Dramatic volcanoes, sea-blue and jade-green lagoons, palm-fringed beaches and newly accessible forests compensate somewhat for the shortcomings of a tourist infrastructure still in its infancy.
At the moment, El Salvador is a country most accommodating to the independent traveler. There is a good network of colorful buses and one of Central America’s few remaining passenger train services – a quixotically scheduled run between San Salvador and Metapán through coffee plantations.
Budget guesthouses are being opened throughout the country as it gains in confidence, boosted by the improvements being introduced into the economy by NGOs from the US, Australia and Europe. It is hoped that this peaceful trend will result in more visitors being able to enjoy the hiking, surfing and diving that the many rivers, mountain trails and beaches offer as well as to explore the Mayan ruins.
Globally there are eight species of sea turtles; six of them nest on the coasts of Central America generally and four on the Salvadoran coast. Recent conservation efforts provide hope for the future of the country’s biological diversity. In 1997 the government established the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources. A general environmental framework law was approved by the National Assembly in 1999. In addition, a number of non-governmental organizations are doing important work to safeguard some of the country’s most important forested areas. Foremost among these is SalvaNatura which manages El Impossible, the country’s largest national park, under an agreement with El Salvador’s environmental authorities.
Despite these efforts much remains to be done. It is estimated that there are 500 species of birds, 1,000 species of butterflies, 400 species of orchids, 800 species of trees, and 800 species of marine fish in El Salvador.