Crossing the Valley       

El Salvador

By Gabriela Gomez

Flag of El Salvador


Map of El Salvador

Infoplease Atlas: El Salvador

Republic of El Salvador

National name: República de El Salvador

President: Antonio Saca (2004)

Area: 8,124 sq mi (21,040 sq km)

Population (2005 est.): 6,704,932 (growth rate: 1.8%); birth rate: 27.0/1000; infant mortality rate: 25.1/1000; life expectancy: 71.2; density per sq mi: 825

Capital and largest city (2003 est.):

In the Crossing the Valley assignment I was very fortunate to have Miguel Aguirre to the person I interviewed. Thanks you very much Miguel! Miguel is a guy that I have know for several years but, in all those years I did not know why, how or when he migrated to the U.S. like many other people. Being an immigrant myself I found that I could relate to some of his feelings. This is his journey.

My dad came to the U.S. first, he left El Salvador due to the increasing violence that the country was going thru. There was a lot of war going on with the guerilla against the government. My dad settled here in Arizona and after two years the rest of the family migrated in 1983. The bridge to Arizona was of course my dad and other relatives such as aunts and uncles. Since all of my family is here there is little to no contact with any back in my homeland.

When I first moved here I found it boring there was nothing much for me to do. All I did was got to school and back home. I took me about five years to adjust to this new country. After a while I got a job at the company that I have been with for the last eight years. While in the U.S. I can’t really say that I have experienced misunderstandings due to my culture or beliefs. I don’t think I have experience any discrimination. The one thing that I did find difficult was school; there was no E.S.L. classes back then. If I need any information I would have to go to the library and do research. I also had friend that would help and translate the homework assignments.

When I first came to the U.S; I really did not have any expectations. I was very young at the time. Around my high school days I began to think about the future. I had set a few goals for myself. I wanted to finish high school, go to college and get married and have a family.  I graduated high school from Carl Hayden in Phoenix. Then I began to work and got lazy and did not enroll in college. I did get married. Getting married was one of the best things that happened to me. One of the worst things is missing out on some of my culture along with getting used to the lifestyle here. Being in the U.S. has not changed who I am, I’m still the same. I was very happy in El Salvador.

I think El Salvador does not have bad feeling towards people who chose to migrate. They do not care Because, it is better for the country. People send money back to El Salvador and these remittances help out the economy.

One of my goals is to go back to visit, I want to see how everything has changed. I have heard stories about how different it is now; the towns are getting bigger. I miss the stuff I used to do back home; I remember taking the animal out on the farm we had. We would also go fishing. Some days all of the family would go into town and just hang out it was good quality time with the family. During this time we would not need a whole lot of money because we grew a lot of out food and we owned our homes. Money was just needed for clothing. I also miss the cooking. We cook the same food as we did back home. We still listen to the same music, well on my part. I try to do everything the same as I did. The only thing I really do not do is hang out with any people from back home.

I do not plan to return to El Salvador. Some things are better back home. In the U.S. everything is money. You need money for everything. Back home you are pretty much self sufficient. Also here my wife and I must work in order to survive. We have to help each other we can not do it alone.

I believe everything I have gone thru is very worthwhile. I have good kids and a good wife. I think if I would have stayed I would probably be dead, just because of all the violence that goes on.

My aspirations for my children are for them to go to college. They want to play basketball.


Republic of El Salvador

National name: República de El Salvador

President: Antonio Saca (2004)

Area: 8,124 sq mi (21,040 sq km)

Population (2005 est.): 6,704,932 (growth rate: 1.8%); birth rate: 27.0/1000; infant mortality rate: 25.1/1000; life expectancy: 71.2; density per sq mi: 825

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): San Salvador, 1,791,700 (metro. area), 504,700 (city proper)

Other large cities: Santa Ana, 167,200; San Miguel, 145,100; Zacatecoluca, 36,700

Monetary unit: Colón; U.S. dollar

Language: Spanish, Nahua (among some Amerindians)

Ethnicity/race: mestizo 90%, white 9%, Amerindian 1%

Religion: Catholics 83%; growing population of evangelical Protestants (1992)

Literacy rate: 80% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2003 est.): $30.99 billion; per capita $4,800. Real growth rate: 1.4%. Inflation: 2.1%. Unemployment: 6.5%—but the economy has much underemployment. Arable land: 27%. Agriculture: coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans, oilseed, cotton, sorghum; shrimp; beef, dairy products. Labor force: 2.35 million (1999); agriculture 30%, industry 15%, services 55% (1999 est.). Industries: food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals. Natural resources: hydropower, geothermal power, petroleum, arable land. Exports: $3.162 billion (2003 est.): offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity. Imports: $5.466 billion (2003 est.): raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity. Major trading partners: U.S., Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, France.

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 380,000 (1998); mobile cellular: 40,163 (1997). Radio broadcast stations: AM 61 (plus 24 repeaters), FM 30, shortwave 0 (1998). Radios: 2.75 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 5 (1997). Televisions: 600,000 (1990). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 4 (2000). Internet users: 40,000 (2000).

Transportation: Railways: total: 562 km; note: length of route which is operational is reduced to 283 km by disuse and lack of maintainance (2002). Highways: total: 10,029 km; paved: 1,986 km (including 327 km of expressways); unpaved: 8,043 km (1999 est.). Waterways: Rio Lempa partially navigable. Ports and harbors: Acajutla, Puerto Cutuco, La Libertad, La Union, Puerto El Triunfo. Airports: 82 (2002).

International disputes: in 1992, the ICJ ruled on the delimitation of "bolsones" (disputed areas) along the El Salvador-Honduras boundary, but they remain largely undemarcated; in 2002, El Salvador filed an application to the ICJ to revise the decision on a section of bolsones; the ICJ also advised a tripartite resolution to a maritime boundary in the Golfo de Fonseca with consideration of Honduran access to the Pacific; El Salvador claims tiny Conejo Island, not mentioned by the ICJ, off Honduras in the Golfo de Fonseca.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of El Salvador




Return to Migration & Culture Home Page Send me an e-mail