More information about El Salvador is available on the El Salvador Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
U.S.-EL SALVADOR RELATIONS
The United States established diplomatic relations with El Salvador in 1863, following El Salvador’s independence from Spain and the later dissolution of a federation of Central American states. After the signing of peace accords in 1992, the Salvadorans consolidated their fragile democracy through a series of democratically elected governments. The United States desires to partner with El Salvador to promote democratic institutions, rule of law, and inclusive economic development. The United States is also home to more than three million people of Salvadoran ancestry, the third largest Hispanic population in the United States after Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.
El Salvador is an important partner in the region. The United States’ top goals in El Salvador are to strengthen democracy, reduce irregular migration, address economic insecurity and inequality by growing the economy, and combat crime and violence. Endemic corruption and violent gangs have undermined the legitimacy of state institutions and impeded economic growth for decades. In 2022, the Salvadoran government instituted a “state of exception” to fight gangs, which it has since extended numerous times. Under the state of exception, security forces have arrested more than 70,000 alleged gang members. Violent crime and murder rates have plummeted. The tactics used to enforce the state of exception raise concerns about human rights and the rule of law.
U.S. Assistance to El Salvador
The United States works with the people of El Salvador to ensure their country is more prosperous, safe, and well governed so Salvadorans believe they can thrive at home. Our assistance programs promote citizen security to create safe communities, promote gender-based violence prevention, advance human rights, and increase protection and services for victims. We work together with multiple justice sector actors to make El Salvador safer, increase access to justice, and to combat transnational organized crime throughout the region. We also are helping grow the Salvadoran economy. Through investment promotion, job training, and partnerships with business, we are increasing employment opportunities for Salvadorans, particularly youth. Education programs support teacher training, infrastructure upgrades, the use of technology, and scholarships to help youth complete high school and to continue professional development. We also are working to promote greater transparency, accountability, and more responsive governance to improve citizens’ confidence in both national and municipal level government. Our humanitarian assistance programs provide food assistance and support subsistence farmers and agriculture-dependent households.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States and El Salvador are parties to the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which aims to facilitate trade and investment and enhance regional integration by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. CAFTA-DR contains a chapter on investment with commitments similar to those found in investment treaties the United States typically negotiates on a bilateral basis. More than 190 U.S. companies have established a permanent commercial presence in El Salvador or work through representative offices in the country. Total trade between the United States and El Salvador was $6.7 billion in 2021. U.S. exports to El Salvador consist primarily of fuel products, computers and electronics, and chemicals. U.S. imports from El Salvador include apparel and agricultural products. Remittances from Salvadorans working in the United States totaled $7.1 billion in 2021, representing 24.7 percent of El Salvador’s GDP ($28.7 billion). The United States has a trade surplus with El Salvador, with exports to El Salvador in 2021 exceeding imports by $1.5 billion. The Central Bank estimates that the Salvadoran economy grew by 2.6 percent in 2022.
U.S. Migration Policy Towards El Salvador and the Region
The United States continues to work with El Salvador to create a country that is safe and prosperous. The United States is expanding lawful pathways for Salvadorans to work temporarily in the United States and then return to El Salvador. In recent years, migration from El Salvador has declined significantly. El Salvador went from fourth largest source of migration to the United States in 2020 to 11th largest source in 2023.
The U.S. Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration (RCS) and the U.S. Collaborative Migration Management Strategy (CMMS) guide U.S. diplomatic efforts and foreign assistance in El Salvador and across Central America. These strategies support El Salvador in addressing the challenges the country faces with internal displacement and those that result in northward migration. The United States and El Salvador are member states to the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), which El Salvador chaired in 2022. RCM member countries commit to addressing issues of international migration in a multilateral context that respects orderly movements and human rights.
El Salvador’s Membership in International Organizations
El Salvador is an active member of international organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. El Salvador has the presidency pro-tempore of the Central American Integration System (SICA) for the second half of 2023.
Principal U.S. embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
El Salvador maintains an embassy in the United States at 1400 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036 (tel: 202-595-7500).
More information about El Salvador is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
CIA World Factbook El Salvador Page
USAID El Salvador Page
History of U.S. Relations With El Salvador
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
2023 Investment Climate Statement
Millennium Challenge Corporation: El Salvador
Library of Congress Country Studies