Demographics of El Salvador

Last updated
Demographics of El Salvador
Male population3,128,267
Female population3,351,248
Population growth 1.68%
Birth rate 25.72/1,000
Death rate 5.53/1,000
Infant mortality rate22.19/1,000
Life expectancy 73.44 years [1]
Salvadoran boy FMSC - El Salvador (35158013945).jpg
Salvadoran boy

This article is about the demographic features of the population of El Salvador, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.


El Salvador's population numbers 6.1 million. Ethnically, 86.3% of Salvadorans are mixed (mixed Indigenous Native American and European Spanish origin). Another 12.7% is of pure European descent, 1% are of pure indigenous descent, 0.16% are Black and others are 0.64%. [2]


El Salvador's population, 1961-2015 El Salvador population.svg
El Salvador's population, 1961-2015

El Salvador's population was 6,420,746 in 2018, [3] [4] compared to 2,200,000 in 1950. In 2010 the percentage of the population below the age of 15 was 32.1%, 61% were between 15 and 65 years of age, while 6.9% were 65 years or older. [5]

YearTotal populationProportion per age group
Ages 0–14 (%)Ages 15–64 (%)Ages 65+ (%)
19502 200 00042.753.34.0
19552 433 00043.652.63.8
19602 773 00045.151.13.7
19653 244 00046.350.13.7
19703 736 00046.449.93.6
19754 232 00045.850.53.7
19804 661 00045.250.93.9
19855 004 00044.151.84.2
19905 344 00041.753.74.6
19955 748 00039.655.54.9
20005 959 00038.356.25.5
20056 073 00035.758.16.2
20106 218 00032.161.06.9


The migration rate accelerated during the period of 1979 to 1981, this marked the beginning of the civil unrest and the spread of political killings. [6] The total impact of civil wars, dictatorships and socioeconomics drove over a million Salvadorans (both as immigrants and refugees) into the United States; Guatemala is the second country that hosts more Salvadorans behind the United States, approximately 110,000 Salvadorans according to the national census of 2010. [7] in addition small Salvadoran communities sprung up in Canada, Australia, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Italy, Taiwan and Sweden since the migration trend began in the early 1970s. [8] The 2010 U.S. Census counted 1,648,968 Salvadorans in the United States, up from 655,165 in 2000. [9]

Ethnic groups

Out of the 6,408,111 people in El Salvador, 86.3% are Mestizo, 12.7% are of full European descent, 1% Indigenous, 0.8% Black, and 0.64% other.

Map of El Salvador's Native American civilizations and their former kingdoms:
Kingdom of the Lenca people
Kingdom of the Cacaopera people
Kingdom of the Xinca people
Kingdom Maya Poqomam people
Kingdom of Maya Ch'orti' people
Kingdom of the Alaguilac people
Kingdom of the Mixe people
Kingdom of the Mangue language
Map of El Salvador's Native American civilizations and their former kingdoms:
  Kingdom of the Lenca people
  Kingdom of the Cacaopera people
  Kingdom of the Xinca people
  Kingdom Maya Poqomam people
  Kingdom of Maya Ch'orti' people
  Kingdom of the Alaguilac people
  Kingdom of the Mixe people
  Kingdom of the Mangue language
  Kingdom of the Pipil people

Mestizo Salvadorans

86.3% of the population are mestizo, having mixed indigenous and European ancestry. [1] In the mestizo population, Salvadorans who are racially European, especially Mediterranean, as well as Afro-Salvadoran, and the indigenous people in El Salvador who do not speak indigenous languages or have an indigenous culture, all identify themselves as being culturally mestizo. [10]

Native American Indigenous Salvadorans

Indigenous Salvadoran woman from Panchimalco Las Palmas estampa.JPG
Indigenous Salvadoran woman from Panchimalco
Spaniard conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and his army became the first to settle and establish European colonies in El Salvador in 1524. Pedro de Alvarado.JPG
Spaniard conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and his army became the first to settle and establish European colonies in El Salvador in 1524.

According to the Salvadoran Government, about 1% of the population are of full or partial indigenous origin. The largest most dominant Native American groups in El Salvador are the Lenca people and Pipil people followed by small enclaves of Maya peoples: (Poqomam people/Chorti people), Cacaopera people, Xinca people, Alaguilac people, Mixe people, Mangue language people, as well as an Olmec past. (Pipil, located in the west and central part of the country, and Lenca, found east of the Lempa River). There are small populations of Cacaopera people in the Morazán Department and a few Ch'orti' people live in the department of Ahuachapán, near the border of Guatemala.

The number of indigenous people in El Salvador have been criticized by indigenous organizations and academics as too small and accuse the government of denying the existence of indigenous Salvadorans in the country. [11] According to the National Salvadoran Indigenous Coordination Council (CCNIS) and CONCULTURA (National Council for Art and Culture at the Ministry of Education ), approximately 70,000 or 1 per cent of Salvadorian peoples are indigenous. [12] Nonetheless, very few Amerindians have retained their customs and traditions, having over time assimilated into the dominant Mestizo/Spanish culture. The low numbers of indigenous people may be partly explained by historically high rates of old-world diseases, absorption into the mestizo population, as well as mass murder during the 1932 Salvadoran peasant uprising (or La Matanza) which saw (estimates of) up to 30,000 peasants killed in a short period of time. Many authors note that since La Matanza the indigenous in El Salvador have been very reluctant to describe themselves as such (in census declarations for example) or to wear indigenous dress or be seen to be taking part in any cultural activities or customs that might be understood as indigenous. [13] Departments and cities in the country with notable indigenous populations include Sonsonate (especially Izalco, Nahuizalco, and Santo Domingo), Cacaopera, and Panchimalco, in the department of San Salvador. [12]

White Salvadorans

Some 12.7% of Salvadorans are white. This population is mostly made up of ethnically Spanish people, while there are also Salvadorans of French, German, Swiss, English, Irish, and Italian descent. A majority of Central European settlers in El Salvador arrived during World War II as refugees from the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Switzerland. In northern departments like the Chalatenango Department, it is well known that residents in the area are of pure Spanish descent;[ citation needed ] settling in the region that is now Chalatenango in the late 18th century. [14] The governor of San Salvador, Francisco Luis Héctor de Carondelet, ordered families from northern Spain (Galicia and Asturias) to settle the area to compensate for the lack of indigenous people to work the land; it is not uncommon to see people with blond hair, fair skin, and blue or green eyes in municipalities like Dulce Nombre de María, La Palma, and El Pital. The majority of Salvadorans of Spanish descent possess Mediterranean racial features: olive skin and dark hair and eyes (black or dark brown), and they identify themselves as mestizo, like mentioned above.

Arab Salvadorans

Arab Salvadorans include Palestinian Salvadoran, Lebanese Salvadoran, Syrian Salvadoran and Egyptian Salvadoran. Arabelsalvador.png
Arab Salvadorans include Palestinian Salvadoran, Lebanese Salvadoran, Syrian Salvadoran and Egyptian Salvadoran.
The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele is a Palestinian Salvadoran Bukele Conferencia.png
The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele is a Palestinian Salvadoran

There is a significant Arab population (of about 100,000); [15] mostly from Palestine (especially from the area of Bethlehem), but also from Lebanon. Salvadorans of Palestinian descent numbered around 70,000 individuals, while Salvadorans of Lebanese descent is around 25,000. [16] There is also a small community of Jews who came to El Salvador from France, Germany, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey.

The history of the Arabs in El Salvador dates back to the end of the 20th century, because of religious clashes, which induced many Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians and Syrians to leave the land where they were born, in search of countries where they at least lived in An atmosphere of relative peace. There were also other reasons of a subjective nature, based on the hope of success, of achieving success and fortune and obtaining recognition from others.

Arab immigration in El Salvador began at the end of the 20th century in the wake of the repressive policies applied by the Ottoman Empire against Maronite Catholics. Several of the destinations that the Lebanese chose at that time were in countries of the Americas, including El Salvador. This resulted in the Arab diaspora residents being characterized by forging in devoutly Christian families and very attached to their beliefs, because in these countries they can exercise their faith without fear of persecution, which resulted in the rise of Lebanese-Salvadoran, Syrian-Salvadoran and Palestinian-Salvadoran communities in El Salvador. [17]

Currently the strongest community is the Palestinian (70,000 descendants), followed by the Lebanese settled in San Salvador with more than 27,000 direct descendants, mostly (95%) Catholic and Orthodox Christians. The slaughter of Lebanese and Palestinian Arab Christians at the hands of Muslims, initiated the first Lebanese migration to El Salvador. [18]

Inter-ethnic marriage in the Lebanese community with Salvadorans, regardless of religious affiliation, is very high; most have only one father with Lebanese nationality and mother of Salvadoran nationality. As a result, some of them speak Arabic fluently. But most, especially among younger generations, speak Spanish as a first language and Arabic as a second. [19]

During the war between Israel and Lebanon in 1948 and during the Six Day War, thousands of Lebanese left their country and went to El Salvador. First they arrived at La Libertad, were they comprised half of the economic activity of immigrants.

Lebanon had been an iqta of the Ottoman Empire. Although the imperial administration, whose official religion was Islam, guaranteed freedom of worship for non-Muslim communities, and Lebanon in particular had a semi-autonomous status, the situation for practitioners of the Maronite Catholic Church was complicated, since they had to cancel exaggerated taxes and suffered limitations for their culture. These tensions were expressed in a rebellion in 1821 and a war against the Druze in 1860. The hostile climate caused many Lebanese to sell their property and take ships in the ports of Sidon, Beirut and Tripoli heading for the Americas.

Statistically in El Salvador, there are about 120,000 Arabs, of Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian and Palestinian ancestry. In the case of these Arab-Salvadorans, although not all the families arrived together, they were the ones that lead the economy in the country.

In 1939, the Arab community based in San Salvador organized and founded the "Arab Youth Union Society" [20]

Pardo Salvadoran

Pardo is the term that was used in colonial El Salvador to describe a tri-racial Afro-Mestizo person of Indigenous, European, and African descent. Afro-Salvadorans are the descendants of the African population that were enslaved and shipped to El Salvador to work in mines in specific regions of El Salvador. They have mixed into and were naturally bred out by the general Mestizo population, which is a combination of a Mestizo majority and the minority of Pardo people, both of whom are racially mixed populations. Thus, there remains no significant extremes of African physiognomy among Salvadorans like there is in the other countries of Central America. A total of only 10,000 African slaves were brought to El Salvador over the span of 75 years, starting around 1548, about 25 years after El Salvador's colonization. El Salvador is the only country in Central America that does not have English Antillean (West Indian) or Garifuna populations of the Caribbean, but instead had older colonial African slaves that came straight from Africa. This is the reason why El Salvador is the only country in Central America not to have a caribbeanized culture, and instead preserved its classical Central America culture.[ citation needed ]

Vital statistics

UN estimates

The Population Department of the United Nations prepared the following estimates. [5]

PeriodLive births
per year
per year
Natural change
per year
CBR*CDR*NC*TFR*IMR*Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy
1950-1955108 00048 00061 00046.720.626.16.3014745.143.446.8
1955-1960125 00046 00078 00047.817.830.06.6013249.347.251.5
1960-1965144 00047 00097 00047.715.532.36.7611953.050.555.7
1965-1970156 00047 000109 00044.813.531.36.4310955.652.658.9
1970-1975168 00049 000119 00042.112.329.85.9510057.053.261.2
1975-1980177 00052 000124 00039.711.827.95.469157.051.962.7
1980-1985174 00055 000119 00036.111.424.74.807756.950.664.2
1985-1990171 00044 000126 00033.08.624.44.205663.157.469.1
1990-1995169 00037 000132 00030.56.823.83.733868.063.372.9
1995-2000161 00038 000123 00027.56.620.93.302769.264.473.9
2000-2005133 00075 00094 00022.06.415.62.602370.265.474.9
2005-2010127 00090 00087 00020.76.514.22.352171.366.575.9
* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)

Registered data

Average population [21] Live birthsDeathsNatural changeCrude birth rate (per 1000)Crude death rate (per 1000)Natural change (per 1000)TFR

Structure of the population

Structure of the population (May 2007 census):

Age groupMaleFemaleTotal%
Total [21] 2 719 3713 024 7425 744 113100
0-4283 272272 621555 8939.68
5-9349 150335 577684 72711.92
10-14359 523346 824706 34712.30
15-19298 384302 181600 56510.46
20-24228 001258 541486 5428.47
25-29206 963250 927457 8907.97
30-34178 400223 849402 2497.00
35-39156 514196 633353 1476.15
40-44132 218171 413303 6315.29
45-49109 957142 165252 1224.39
50-5495 275120 459215 7343.76
55-5981 718101 357183 0753.19
60-6468 20783 657151 8642.64
65-6955 78169 376125 1572.18
70-7443 44954 00897 4571.70
75-7933 65842 32675 9841.32
80-8420 40126 46946 8700.82
85+18 50026 35944 8590.78
Age groupMaleFemaleTotalPercent
0-14991 945955 0221 946 96733.89
15-641 555 6371 851 1823 406 81959.31
65+171 789218 538390 3276.80

Structure of the population (July 2011; 4stimates based on the 2007 census trends):

Age groupMaleFemaleTotal%
Total2 925 2843 290 8586 216 143100
0-4309 786296 430606 2169.75
5-9308 052294 483602 5359.69
10-14362 232348 111710 34311.43
15-19352 598350 791703 38911.32
20-24276 109305 559581 6689.36
25-29209 615261 340470 9557.58
30-34180 198235 412415 6096.69
35-39168 638219 197387 8356.24
40-44149 955194 952344 9075.55
45-49127 846167 719295 5654.75
50-54108 714140 978249 6924.02
55-5993 682119 911213 5933.44
60-6478 899100 625179 5252.89
65-6965 84682 450148 2952.39
70-7452 99366 934119 9281.93
75-7938 67849 60388 2811.42
80+41 44356 36397 8061.57
Age groupMaleFemaleTotalPercent
0-14980 070939 0241 919 09430.87
15-641 746 2542 096 4843 842 73861.82
65+198 960255 350454 3107.31

Other demographic statistics

Demographic statistics according to the World Population Review in 2019. [22]

Demographic statistics according to the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated. [23]


6,187,271 (July 2018 est.)

Ethnic groups

mestizo 86.3%, white 12.7%, Amerindian 0.2% (includes Lenca, Kakawira, Nahua-Pipil), black 0.1%, other 0.6% (2007 est.)

Age structure

Population pyramid of El Salvador in 2017 El Salvadorpop.svg
Population pyramid of El Salvador in 2017
0-14 years: 25.3% (male 802,813 /female 762,852)
15-24 years: 19.88% (male 619,550 /female 610,725)
25-54 years: 39.8% (male 1,143,226 /female 1,319,138)
55-64 years: 7.32% (male 198,513 /female 254,640)
65 years and over: 7.69% (male 208,817 /female 266,997) (2018 est.)

Demographic profile

El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. It is well into its demographic transition, experiencing slower population growth, a decline in its number of youths, and the gradual aging of its population. The increased use of family planning has substantially lowered El Salvador's fertility rate, from approximately 6 children per woman in the 1970s to replacement level today. A 2008 national family planning survey showed that female sterilization remained the most common contraception method in El Salvador - its sterilization rate is among the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean - but that the use of injectable contraceptives is growing. Fertility differences between rich and poor and urban and rural women are narrowing. [2]

Median age

total: 27.6 years. Country comparison to the world: 143rd
male: 26.1 years
female: 29.1 years (2018 est.)

Birth rate

16.1 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 111st

Death rate

5.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 173rd

Total fertility rate

1.84 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 146th

Net migration rate

-7.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 210th

Population growth rate

0.25% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 177th

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.8 years (2008 est.)
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Contraceptive prevalence rate

72% (2014)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 56.8 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 44.4 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 12.4 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 8 (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.1 years. Country comparison to the world: 114th
male: 71.8 years
female: 78.6 years (2018 est.)


urban population: 72% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 1.57% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)



Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 36%, other 2%, none 12% (2014 est.)


Spanish (official), English among Salvadoran Americans, Arabic among Palestinian Salvadoran and Nawat language (among Native American indigenous peoples)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2016 est.)

total population: 88.1%
male: 90.3%
female: 86.3% (2016 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2016)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 9.8%. Country comparison to the world: 128th
male: 9.6%
female: 10.1% (2016)


Notable Salvadoran people

See also

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