Mountains separate the country into the southern coastal belt, the central valleys and plateaus, and the northern mountains.
These regions have created slight cultural variations because of the different crops grown in each one.
Coffee grown in the mountains and cane grown on the coast provide the rural population with paid labor; in the central valleys, corn and beans are grown for private consumption and for sale.
Most industry is in the center, where the capital, San Salvador, is located.
Other large cities include San Miguel in the east and Santa Ana in the west. In 1999 the population was estimated to be 5,839,079, making El Salvador one of the most densely populated countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Over a million persons have migrated, starting in the early 1980s during a civil war.
Very few Salvadorans now speak the indigenous language, which virtually disappeared after 1932, when General Maximilio Hernández Martínez suppressed rural resistance by massacring 30,000 mostly Indian rural peasants.
In the center is a coat of arms inscribed "1821," the year of independence.
Legal and illegal emigration has continued at a high rate since the end of the civil war in 1992. Almost all residents speak Spanish, which was brought in by the conquistadors.
Before the Spanish conquest, the area was inhabited by the Pipil Indians.
El Salvador "the Savior," was named by Spanish conquistadors.
Guanaco, a type of bird, is a slightly derogative nickname used by other Central Americans and some Salvadorans. El Salvador is a country of 8,260 square miles (21,040 square kilometers) in Central America, between Guatemala and Honduras.