El Salvador
Republic of El Salvador
April 30

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Area 21,041 sq.km on the Pacific Coast of South America. The smallest and most densely populated Spanish-speaking mainland state in the Americas. Sub-tropical; susceptible to earthquakes.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 6,276,023 +2.06% 298 per sq. km.
2010 7,440,647 +1.59% 354 per sq. km.
2025 9,062,331 +1.21% 431 per sq. km.

Capital San Salvador 1,950,000. Urbanites 55%.


Spanish-speaking 99.4%. Ladino (Mestizo) 5,590,000; Amerindian(3) 610,000; Euro-American 70,000.

Amerindian-speaking 0.2%. Kekchi 13,000; the Lenca, Pipil and Pocomam now speak Spanish.

Other 0.4%. North American 10,000; Chinese 2,000.

Literacy 74%. Official language Spanish. All languages 4.


Centuries of exploitation of the majority followed by 12 years of civil war held back development of this impoverished nation. There was some improvement during the 1990s, but 80% still live in deep poverty. The two large earthquakes of 2000 and 2001 were further setbacks. Coffee and light industry are the main economic activities. HDI 0.674; 107th/174. Public debt 23% of GNP. Income/person $1,700 (6% of USA).


Independent from Spain in 1821 as part of a united Central America, and as a separate nation in 1838. All power remained in the hands of wealthy plantation owners allied with the military. A long series of corrupt dictatorships and gross inequalities between the rich and poor provoked armed leftist insurrection in 1981. Over 75,000 were killed in fighting, cross-fire or by right-wing death squads. The ending of the Cold War, revulsion over human rights abuses and international pressure forced through a peace accord in 1992. Democratic government has slowly become more established with both main contestants in the civil war having similar representational strength in the Legislative Assembly.


The constitution recognizes the legal status of the Catholic Church, but there is freedom of religion for other denominations and faiths. The Catholic Church opposed oppression and human rights abuses during the war.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 97.31 6,107,198 +2.0%
non-Religious/other 2.00 125,520 +2.1%
Baha'i 0.60 37,656 +5.8%
Traditional ethnic 0.05 3,138 -7.1%
Buddhist 0.03 1,883 +2.1%
Jewish 0.01 628 +2.1%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 43 17.27 1,084 +5.0%
Independent 20 8.13 510 +4.3%
Anglican 1 0.01 0 +1.0%
Catholic 1 74.89 4,700 +0.7%
Marginal 2 2.60 163 +4.1%
Unaffiliated   2.39 150 n.a.
Doubly affiliated   -7.97 -500 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 300 2,582,400 4,700,000
Assemblies of God P 1,307 91,300 200,000
Prince of Peace I 1,000 90,000 200,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 261 80,000 170,000
Apos Ch of Apos & Proph I 533 80,000 130,000
Ch of God (Cleveland) P 659 38,046 85,000
Latter-day Saints (Morm) M 200 58,000 82,940
Jehovah's Witnesses M 474 27,990 80,000
Baptist Convention P 153 45,330 75,000
United Pentecostal P 930 32,000 74,000
Lutheran Salv Synod P 130 11,000 68,000
Elim P 111 18,800 47,000
Central American P 153 20,000 38,000
Baptist Association P 73 9,500 17,000
Ch of God (Anderson) P 120 4,400 11,000
Ch of the Nazarene P 44 6,000 9,000
Other denoms [53]   2,722 234,200 470,000
Doubly affiliated     -225,200 -500,000
Total Christians [69]   9,170 3,204,000 5,957,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 21.7 1,365 +5.2%
Charismatic 27.6 1,729 +3.5%
  Pentecostal 16.9 1,058 +4.2%

Missionaries from El Salvador
P,I,A 218 in 18 agencies to 15 countries: El Salvador 74, Ecuador 21, Honduras 16.

Missionaries to El Salvador
P,I,A 137 in 33 agencies from 12 countries: USA 80.

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Answers to Prayer

1 Peace and democratic change have developed against all expectations since 1992.

2 The astonishing five-fold increase of Evangelicals during the war continued in the 1990s but at a slower rate. Evangelicals were but 2.3% of the population in 1960; in 2000 they were over 22%.

Challenges for Prayer

1 Recovery from the social and psychological wounds of centuries of oppression and 12 years of civil war is a priority. The web of violence, hate, suspicion, atrocities and murder will take time to unravel. At the height of the war 20% of the population fled the country and the US poured in $6 billion to shore up the government. Overall, more than 75,000 were killed. Pray for repentance, reconciliation and a fair society based on respect for human rights.

2 The growth of Evangelicals in the midst of travail has been a modern-day miracle, but now the need is for consolidation of the work. There is a growing number of ex-Evangelicals that underscores this need. Pray for effective discipling and motivation of believers for service, witness and missions.

3 Goals for the first decade of the millennium. The Salvadorean Evangelical Confraternity representing over 50 denominations set the goal of multiplying congregations from 3,400 in 1987 to 12,000 in 2000. This goal was not quite achieved, but probably reached 9,000. Pray for increased unity, renewed vision and multiplied effective outreach that this nation might belong to Jesus – El Salvador is Spanish for 'the Saviour'.

4 Leadership for the churches must be multiplied. The war, lack of finance, and insufficient staff have crippled what training was available. Pray for the Bible schools, seminaries and TEE programmes. Pray for the provision of all material needs for staff and students in this time of economic stress. It is in this ministry that more missionary input is needed. Many mission agencies are heavily committed to health, social betterment and educational ministries.

5 Missions vision has grown. The ministry of COMISAL (the national expression of COMIBAM) and indigenous missions such as MIES, AMIGA, EDEHM are expressions of this. An estimated 140 missionaries are serving in other lands. Pray that this involvement might increase and be fruitful.

6 Sections of society which are of special challenge:

a) The Amerindian population still retains many of their cultural values and traits even though they have largely lost their languages. Their treatment in the 20th Century has been horrific. Pray for effective ministries to begin and for culturally-sensitive church planting among them.

b) Over 350,000 children were abandoned during the war. Orphanages, counselling, education and job opportunities for these scarred young people is important.

c) The 77,000 university students are the country's future leaders. IFES has a ministry among them.

7 The impact of Christian institutions and media is wide-ranging. There are 3 Christian universities, 73 Christian schools, one TV station and 25 radio stations. Pray that the overall impact may bring about spiritual uplift in every area of national life.

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