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El Salvador (officially the Republic of El Salvador) is the smallest country in Central America and lies south of Guatemala and Honduras and north of the Pacific Ocean.

For many centuries El Salvador was inhabited by Native Americans but from 1522 to 1537 the Spanish Empire conquered the region and then incorporated the area of El Salvador into the Viceroyalty of New Spain as part of Guatemala.

In 1821, the country gained independence from Spain and was one of the founders of the Federal Republic of Central America (after briefly being part of the First Mexican Empire). Upon dissolution of this grouping in 1841, El Salvador became self-governing although it had a short-lived union with Honduras and Nicaragua from 1895 to 1898.

For years it was beset by inequality and civil unrest which finally led to the Salvadoran Civil War which ran from 1979 to 1992 and was fought between the military government and left wing guerrillas. The present day multi-party constitutional republic was the result of a negotiated settlement between these groups.

The economy has been dominated by agriculture (indigo and coffee) but it has now diversified and opened up trade and financial links.

Two parallel mountain ranges cross El Salvador to the west with a central plateau between them and a narrow coastal plain close to the Pacific Ocean.

The mountain ranges and central plateau cover 85% of the land. The coastal plains, called the Pacific lowlands, make up the rest. The Middle American Trench, where the Cocos Plate is subducting beneath the Caribbean lies just offshore.

El Salvador thus has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and has has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore. Globalshift believes it is unlikely to achieve any production in the future due to its mountainous terrain with limited sedimentary cover and its steep continental shelf. No exploration wells have ever been drilled in the country.

With its high geothermal gradient due to the subduction process, El Salvador is Central America's largest producer of geothermal energy.


Map and National Flag


Cart and horse

Central America

El Salvador

E and P


Oil and gas summary



Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

Oil cons (000s b/d)

Gas cons (bcm/yr)


San Salvador

6.2 mm






Brief history of the country

El Salvador is a presidential representative democratic republic with a multi-party system.

The Executive Branch is headed by the President who is elected by direct vote for only one 5-year term.

The Legislative Branch is a unicameral assembly consisting of 84 deputies. The country also has an independent Judiciary and Supreme Court.

There is no government department specifically responsible for oil and gas resources.

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