Central America: Tropical blend in El Salvador

Joya de Ceren: Located 15 miles from San Salvador, Joya de Ceren is the best-preserved domestic archaeological site in the Americas, and both the ruins and the museum next door are good places to learn what everyday life was like here 1,500 years ago.

Cerro Verde National Park: Located west of San Salvador and above the mountain lake of Lago de Coatepeque, the woodland highlands of the park are home to more than 120 species of birds. The park lodge looks out on the 6,200-foot Izalco volcano, and visitors can climb to its rim.

Ilobasco and more: El Salvador's crafts are arts to discover, and Friday is market day; east of San Salvador, Ilobasco, famous for miniature clay and hand-painted ceramics and San Sebastian, specializing in textile crafts such as hammocks and bedspreads; north of the capital, La Palma, a center for brightly-painted wood carvings and hand-embroidered tapestries.

Costa del Sol: An hour south of San Salvador on the Pacific coast lie El Salvador's best beaches. Expert surfers, for whom the country is a sporting mecca, flock here in search of the perfect wave. They find it most often at El Zunzal beach.

El Salvador Fast Facts
  • Capital City: San Salvador
  • Area: 8,124 square miles (approximate size of state of Massachusetts)
  • Country population: 6 million
  • Language: Spanish
  • Entry requirements: Valid passport, tourist card issued on arrival $10)
  • Currency: Colon
  • Local Time: Central Standard (Greenwich Mean Time -6)
  • International Phone Code: 503
  • Recommended guidebook: Mexico and Central America Handbook, Footprint Handbooks
  • Information: Embassy of El Salvador (202) 265-9671, ext. 231
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