El Salvador, or the Republic of El Salvador, is both the smallest and the most densely populated country located in Central America, according to the World Factbook. It is situated between Guatemala and the Honduras to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Known as the “Land of Volcanoes,” El Salvador has over 20 active volcanoes, including “Izalco,” the most active volcano in Central America. The climate in El Salvador is very tropical, with warm temperatures as well as heavy rains in the fall and winter.
The population of El Salvador is approximately 6.35 million as of 2016, according to the World Bank. Indigenous peoples constitute 10 percent of the country’s total population. Fifty percent of the population is Roman Catholic, while 36 percent is Protestant. The official language of El Salvador is Spanish, and Nawat is spoken among some Amerindians.
Traditionally, El Salvador was an agricultural exporting country, heavily dependent on coffee exports. However, by the late 20th Century, the service industry became the primary economic driver. Common agricultural products today include corn, sugar, rice, and coffee. Major industries include chemicals, petroleum, textiles, and furniture.
El Salvador has experienced outward migration or emigration based on minimal opportunities for economic advancement. The majority of migrants are from rural communities. Despite the many challenges posed by the Civil War (1980-1992), resilient artisans have been able to preserve traditional techniques. During this Civil War, more than 25 percent of the population either migrated or fled from the country, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Many indigenous communities were displaced, and economic growth slowed. By supporting artisans in El Salvador, they are able to preserve their cultural identities, and oftentimes the sustainable incomes make a difference between them staying in their home countries or migrating.
unemployment rate (2016 est.)
From El Salvador: Meet the Artisan
Based out of El Salvador, Lula Mena is a microenterprise working with approximately 75 artisans between the ages of 23 and 65. The artisans live in at-risk communities, and, by working with Lula Mena, they receive a fair income and maintain job security to help themselves and their households. Lula Mena is the designer behind the beautiful fair trade goods, and she practices conscious design while developing sustainable and ethical products. The design is based on five principles: eco-friendly practices, handmade, fair trade, innovation, and women empowerment.