Terrain shapes and bedrock
The topographic structures in the mountainous country have a clear extent to the east-west. Along the Pacific coast to the south is a narrow coastal plain, forming the smallest of the topographic regions, a tenth of El Salvador’s surface. It includes several lagoon lakes and is bounded to the east by the large Fonseca Bay, which has important deep-water ports.
Two parallel mountain ranges form highland areas in the interior of the country, separated by a central plateau. The southern mountain range, which rises 1,200 m above sea level, has about 20 volcanoes. At the far west is Izalco (1,910 m above sea level), which is also called the “Pacific Ocean Lighthouse” because at the beginning of its activity it had regular eruptions at five minute intervals. Among the other volcanoes are Santa Ana, which is also the country’s highest peak (2 365 m above sea level), San Salvador and San Miguel.
The inner plain is between 400 and 800 m above sea level. and covers a quarter of the country’s area. It is intersected by the valley line to the most significant of El Salvador’s approximately 300 rivers, Lempa. It flows up into Guatemala, passes through Lake Guaya and continues through most of El Salvador until it falls into the Pacific. The San Miguel River dewateres the eastern parts of the country.
The northern mountain region, which consists of two separate chains, Metapán and Chalatenango, has altitudes of 1,500-2,000 m above sea level.
The bedrock of El Salvador consists mainly of tertiary volcanic rocks, while young alluvial formations are found along the coast. The most nutritious soils are of volcanic origin and are found in the southern mountainous area, while the soil cover of the inner plain and valley area is thin and rocky.
According to COUNTRYAAH, El Salvador has a humid tropical climate. In the lower areas along the coast and in the valley of the Lempa valley, the average temperature is between 25 and 29 °C, while the mountain regions have monthly averages between 17 and 22 °C. The capital city of San Salvador, located 650 meters above sea level, has a monthly maximum of 35 °C in March and a minimum monthly average, in January, of 14 °C.
According to BRIDGAT, heavy rain falls during the period May-October, providing 95% of the annual rainfall, while the dry season (“summer”) lasts from November to April. The lowland along the Pacific coast receives a rainfall of 1,700 mm per year, while levels between 600 and 1,000 m above sea level. on average, they receive 1,800-2,500 mm per year, the deeper valleys, on the other hand 1,100-1,500 mm per year.
Plant-and animal life
Deciduous dry forests and savannas with smoother tree vegetation constituted the original vegetation types. The forests were cleared and burned early by the Indians, and even before the colonial period, many of the forests had disappeared. Today, only about 5% of the country’s area carries some form of forest, most of which is heavily influenced by culture and constantly exploited by firewood. Mangrove forest has disappeared, among other things. to give way to planting coconut trees. The higher lying areas of the mountains are mostly covered by grassland.
Because of the biotope destruction and the high population density, wildlife is also significantly poorer than in most other Central American countries. Larger mammals are very few. Birds that are still seen are hummingbirds, parrots, pigeons, tyrants and finches. Among the reptiles, rattlesnakes, iguanas and teju lizards are relatively richly represented.
El Salvador has a national park with international status, El Imposible Y El Balsamero.