Natural resources and energy
El Salvador has no major mineral resources. The
most important minerals produced are limestone, gypsum
and salt. The small extraction of silver and gold that
existed before the Civil War stopped during the 1980s.
During the first decade of the 2000s, a few mining
companies from Canada and the United States found gold
and silver in the country's northern parts. But popular
protests and opposition from the Catholic Church meant
that the Salvadoran governments did not allow the
companies to break the metals for environmental reasons.
Canadian mining company Pacific Rim sued the Salvadoran
state in 2009 for denying them mining permits and
believes it violates the rules of the DR-Cafta Free
Trade Agreement (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
Major exports by El Salvador with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
For its energy supply, the country relies on imported
oil. In 2010, over half of the energy came from fossil
fuels, a quarter from hydropower and just under a
quarter from geothermal energy, mainly from volcanoes.
There are several domestic hydropower plants but
electricity is also imported from Honduras and
In Metapán in the north-west, investments are made in
wind power that in 2015 is estimated to start generating
energy for around 100,000 homes. Solar energy is used to
a limited extent and the Fune government worked to
Forests cover about one-sixth of El Salvador's
surface area, but only three percent of the country's
surface area has forest remains. Large forest areas have
been destroyed and about three percent of the tree
population is harvested each year. Some new trees have
been planted, including on coffee plantations where they
are used to shade the coffee plants. Only half a percent
of the land area consists of the protected area, the
smallest proportion in Central America.
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FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
666 kilos of oil equivalents (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
966 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
6 285 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
1.0 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
24.4 percent (2015)
Ex-minister charged with arms smuggling
Parliament deprives Germany's ambassador, Atilio
Benítez, of his diplomatic immunity when prosecutors
want to prosecute him for arms smuggling, illegal
possession of weapons and fraud. Benítez, who was
Minister of Defense in 2009–2011, is suspected of
selling weapons that would have been destroyed. The
decision is made with the support of 43 members; The
members of the FMLN cast their votes.
Training effort against the gang
El Salvador as well as Guatemala and Honduras launch
a joint effort to fight gang crime in the countries,
called the "Northern Triangle". Police and military in
each country should share intelligence and operate
primarily along borders. The force will show the United
States that the countries are actively combating
violence and smuggling, which is behind a large part of
the illegal migration to the United States (see also
Foreign Policy and Defense). In 2015, 17,422 murders
were reported in the three countries, which are the most
violent in the world where there is no war.
Ex-President Saca grabs
Antonio Saca is arrested on suspicion of
embezzlement, money laundering and links with illegal
organizations. Six other people are arrested at the same
time, three of whom are active civil servants.
Abortion relief is proposed
The government wants to allow abortions after rape,
in danger of the mother's life or if the fetus is not
viable. The opposition opposes a proposal for stricter
penalties for those who perform abortion with
imprisonment for up to 50 years.
Delvin Salgado, mayor of the small town of El Negrito,
is suspected of murder and of conspiring with a group of
assassins. He is one of at least 35 mayors or vice
mayors who have been investigated for links to organized
crime since 2015, authorities say.
Ex-president gets asylum in Nicaragua
Ex-President Mauricio Funes, who has been living in
Nicaragua for three months, pleaded not guilty to
allegations of improperly seizing assets (see
February 2016) and that he recently sought
asylum when he feared the "extreme right" plans to
attack him. Nicaragua announces the decision and says
the motive is that Fune's life is in danger.
Amnestilag is scrapped
The Supreme Court decides that the amnesty law
applicable to crimes during the civil war 1980-1992
violates the constitution's guarantees on human rights,
not least the right to damages for war crimes and crimes
against humanity (see Political system).
New unit will fight criminal gangs
The government decides to create a new, heavily armed
special forces whose task is to fight the criminal gangs
who moved out into the countryside when the police hit
the street gangs in the cities. The force will consist
of 1,000 men and have access to helicopters and armored
vehicles, among other things.
Ex-President Saca is ordered to report on assets
The Supreme Court also requires that Antonio Saca,
like Mauricio Funes a few weeks earlier, report on how
his assets increased during the 2004–2009 presidential
term. In Saca's case, it is reportedly about $ 5
Ex-President Funes is ordered to report on assets
The Supreme Court orders a civil case review of the
circumstances that caused Fune's assets to increase by $
700,000 during his term of office in 2009–2014.
Ex-military arrested for Jesuit murder
6th of February
Four out of 17 former militants requested by Spain
have been arrested. They are suspected of involvement in
the 1989 Jesuit clergy murder (see Political system and
Former President Flores dies before trial
30th of January
Former President Francisco Flores dies at 56, after a
brain haemorrhage. A judge recently announced that the
trial would begin against Flores, who has been in house
arrest or detention for a long time but was taken to
hospital in December for health reasons (see
September 2014). The lawsuit against Flores was
stated before the trial to be $ 15 million, of which $ 5
million should have been credited to his personal
accounts and $ 10 million to Arena's accounts (see also
January 2014). Flores was president
Zika causes the government to discourage pregnancy
The Ministry of Health urges couples to avoid
pregnancies for the next two years. The startling
message is a result of the rapid spread of the zika
virus. In El Salvador, 7,000 cases of zika infection
have now been identified since the virus was first
discovered in November 2015.
Zika virus triggers warning
Authorities issue a warning for a mosquito Aedes
aegypti, which can carry three different viral
infections. The background is the zika virus that
spreads rapidly in Latin America and can cause severe
birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected. Mosquito
bites can also lead to a person being infected with
dengue, which has been around for a long time in the
region, and with chikungunya that was first encountered
in El Salvador in 2014.
Help to the expelled
A program is launched to help Salvadorans expelled
from the US and forced to return home. Authorities
should offer returnees assistance with starting small
businesses and with therapy, to deal with the trauma
that an expulsion can entail. In 2015, almost 22,000
Salvadorans were forced to leave the United States, and
the figure is expected to increase sharply in 2016.
However, this is a small proportion of Salvadorans
living in the United States (see also Population and
Languages). The money they send back corresponds to
about 17 percent of the country's GDP (see Finance).
Ex-Defense Minister expelled from the United States
Former Secretary of Defense and Retired General José
Guillermo García is deported along with 131 other
Salvadorans from the United States, after he refused a
request to have his residence permit renewed. A court
has ordered the deportation for human rights violations
committed during the civil war. García was Minister of
Defense from 1979 to 1983. His successor to the post has
also been expelled from the United States, for the same
reason (see April 2015).