El Salvador

Nicknamed "the country with a smile", El Salvador is sure to raise a smile from all who visit. Salvadorians are renowned for their hospitality and therefore holidaymakers will quickly be able to regard this country as a home away from home. Located in Central America, El Salvador was officially named after the Spanish phrase for "The Saviour", in praise of Jesus Christ. The landscape within this location is heavenly; a fascinating blend of volcanic surroundings and beautiful beaches. Throughout the 1980s El Salvador was best known internationally for the long stream of civil wars which rocked the nation. Today, these disputes have come to a close and El Salvador is rapidly forging an identity for itself which focuses upon its beautiful landscape, welcoming citizens and dense heritage.

Language

The official national language is Spanish, although many individuals who inhabit more densely populated areas also speak English. Those towns which are inhabited by Indians often speak Nahut, a Pipil language. Holidaymakers should research the specific area they are visiting in order to identify the language they will need to be familiar with.

Currency

The official currency is the US dollar. One pound is equal to approximately half a dollar and one Euro is worth 1.2 dollars.

Weather

Conditions in El Salvador vary from location to location. The coast boasts tropical temperatures whereas the more hilly areas are cooler. The country experiences a largely dry spell from November to April, but then all areas can fall victim to rain from May to October.

Attractions

The Montecristo Cloud Forest is a magnificent location situated by El Salvador's border with Honduras and Guatemala. The exact conditions of this spot make it possible for such a forest to exist, as the trees' leaves act as a shield from all sunlight. Many unique forms of plant life exist on the forest floor and the area is inhabited by many beautiful forms of wildlife, for instance anteaters, pumas and spider monkeys. Alegria can be discovered in the mountains; visitors will instantly recognise this unique spot as it is full of flowers. Every home and building in this town is extremely colourful and there are over 200 nurseries breeding all manner of plants. The Mayan Ruins of Tazumal can be explored in Chalchuapa. The phrase Tazumal refers to a pyramid where victims were burned. Believed to date back to 5000 BC, the artefacts and ruins in this area are fascinating and remarkably intact. One of the most precious items is a statue of Xipe-totec, the Nahua god of war and fertility. This location is unlike any other Mayan ruin in the world, thus providing visitors with the special opportunity to explore some authentic local heritage. The capital, San Salvador, lies at the bottom of the San Salvador volcano. The area boasts numerous attractions, which are certain to entertain all who visit. Many stunning monuments fill the city; particular favourites include the National Palace, the Monument to the Sea and Monumento a El Salvador del Mundo. Those hoping to explore the natural beauty within the capital should look no further than the Parque de los Pericos and the Parque Cuscatlan, both of which are sophisticated, stunning testaments to the tranquil and stunning local habitat. The Zoologico Nacional pays tribute to the wildlife found within the country and the Parque Saburo Hirao contains many examples of national plant life. The David J. Guzman National Museum of Anthropology is home to a vast collection of national artefacts. Also worth visiting is the Museo de Arte, which pays testament to local and international artistic talent. Those hoping to be entertained will enjoy a visit to one of the two principal theatres; Teatro Presidente and Teatro Nacional are both stunning buildings which host many different types of performances.

Shopping

El Salvador has a number of impressive and modern malls, most of which are located within San Salvador. The Multiplaza is home to an awe inspiring array of shops, which specialise in current trends. The Galerias is a sophisticated, beautiful collection of stores and El Paseo is perfect for those shoppers with a larger budget. These malls specialise in both national and international fashions, providing visitors with the perfect opportunity to invest in an image change or simply enjoy a splurge. Those searching for bargains will find no better place than the Ilopango markets on the edge of San Salvador. Here visitors can bargain for local produce and national crafts.

Nightlife

San Salvador is particularly famed for its nightlife. Many of the capital's impressive malls house numerous nightclubs and bars. The Multiplaza is home to Stanza, MaiThai and Envy, whereas La Gran Via boasts Republik, El Alebrije and Llenya. The best location to aim for on a fun night out is Zona Rosa, where numerous upmarket establishments can be found. Whatever type of evening entertainment each visitor desires they are certain to locate it somewhere within El Salvador.

Driving

The relatively small size of El Salvador makes it easy to negotiate by car. Cars drive on the right hand side of the road and all drivers should bear in mind that hardly any of the roads are paved. Driving is predominantly safe, although all should be wary of road conditions, animals and driving at night.

Food and Drink

El Salvador is home to a mixed array of cuisines from many different cultures. Options are endless; visitors can enjoy Peruvian, Middle Eastern, Spanish and German dishes, as well as many others. Salvadoran cuisine includes a lot of rice and beans, with items such as tortillas being particularly delicious. Seafood is readily available and a favourite dish is Pupusa, a tortilla made from corn which is then filled with cheese, as well as many other delicious items. Restaurants are located around the country. Visitors in San Salvador will have a vast array to choose from. Those searching for a particularly special meal should head towards the area called Zona Rosa, which is home to many exclusive and luxurious eateries and bars for those hoping to experience the best in local cuisine.

Tourist Information

For more information potential holidaymakers should visit: www.elsalvadorturismo.gob.sv

All car hire locations in El Salvador