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El Salvador Geography


El Salvador, the smallest Central American country, has an area of 21,041 sq km (8,124 sq mi), extending 270 km (168 mi) west-northwest to east-southeast, and 142 km (88 mi) north to south. Comparatively, the area occupied by El Salvador is about the size of Wales. Bounded on the north and east by Honduras, on the south and southwest by the Pacific Ocean, and on the northwest by Guatemala, El Salvador has a total boundary length of 852 km (529 mi), of which 307 km (191 mi) is coastline. It is the only Central American country without a Caribbean coastline.

El Salvador's capital city, San Salvador, is located in the west central part of the country.

El Salvador is a land of mountains and once-fertile upland plains. It is divided into three general topographic regions:

• the hot, narrow Pacific coastal belt, 260 km (160 mi) long and 16-24 km (10-15 mi) wide;
• the central plateau, at an altitude of about 610 m (2,000 ft), crossing from east to west, between two mountain ranges; and
• the northern lowlands, formed by the wide Lempa River Valley, bounded by a high mountain range ascending to the Honduran border.

The central plateau, north of the Pacific coastal belt, is an area of valleys endowed with rich volcanic soil. This is the agricultural, industrial, and population centre of the country; the capital, San Salvador (682 m/2,237 ft above sea level), is in this region. Almost surrounded by active volcanoes – Santa Ana (2,381 m/7,812 ft), San Vicente (2,173 m/7,129 ft), San Miguel (2,132 m/6,995 ft), San Salvador (1,967 m/6,453 ft), and Izalco (1,965 m/6,447 ft) – the region is a zone of recurrent earthquakes and volcanic activity; Izalco is known as the Lighthouse of the Pacific. El Salvador has several lakes, the largest being Ilopango, Güija and Coatepeque. The Lempa, the most important of some 150 rivers, rises in Guatemala and runs south into El Salvador, eventually reaching the Pacific.

Located in the tropical zone, El Salvador has two distinct seasons: the dry season, from November to April, when light rains occur, and the wet season, from May to October, when the temporales, or heavy rains, fall. The coastal plain receives the heaviest rainfall. Some interior areas are relatively dry most of the year, necessitating irrigation and a selection of crops suited for arid land cultivation. The average annual rainfall is 182 cm (72 in). Temperatures vary with altitude, from the hot coastal lowlands to the semitropical central plateau; in general, the climate is warm, with an annual average maximum of 32°C (90°F) and an average minimum of 18°C (64°F). The average temperature at San Salvador is 22°C (72°F) in January and 23°C (73° F) in July.


Location :
Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras

Geographic coordinates :
13 50 N, 88 55 W

Map references :
Central America and the Caribbean

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