El Salvador information sheets

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El Salvador information sheet
Faith and culture
El Salvador is on the western coast of Central America. Guatemala is to
the north and west of El Salvador, with Honduras to the north and east and
the Pacific Ocean to the south. El Salvador is located in the tropical zones,
north of the equator.
The majority of people in El Salvador are Roman Catholic. Religious
songs are quite popular and can be heard during the celebrations of
Christmas and other festivals. The music of El Salvador has a mixture of
Mayan, African, Pipil (pronounced “Pee-peel”) and Spanish influences.
Dance is also important in El Salvador, with many traditional folk dances
about different aspects of the country’s history and traditions. Football
is very popular. One of the main foods in El Salvador is called pupusas
(pronounced “poo-poo-sas”). These are tortillas filled with cheese, beans,
and/or pork.
El Salvador has a spectacular landscape, including lush, green forests,
active volcanoes and sparkling lakes. There are two mountain ranges in
El Salvador, which run parallel to each other from the east to the west
of the country. The northern mountain range borders Honduras and is
called the Sierra Madre (pronounced “Madray”), which means Mother
Mountain Range. The southern or coastal mountain range includes more
than 20 volcanoes. The soil around the volcanoes is very fertile and lots
of coffee is grown here. There is a central plateau in between the two
mountain ranges, and a narrow coastal belt with beautiful beaches along
the Pacific Ocean.
Population:.................... 6.2 million (UN, 2011)
Land size: . ..................... 21,041 sq km (slightly bigger than Wales)
Capital:........................... San Salvador
Currency:........................ US dollar
El Salvador has a tropical climate, with two seasons. The dry season
is from November to April and the wet season is from May to October.
Heavy rains and hurricanes can cause landslides,
damage to buildings, injuries and even death.
Languages: . .................. Spanish, Nahua (pronounced “Nawa”)
Natural Hazards
The earth’s surface (known as the crust), is made up
of large pieces, called plates. El Salvador is crossed by
several plate boundaries. When the plates move, this
causes earthquake and volcanic activity. That is why there
are so many earthquakes and volcanoes in El Salvador,
and in the rest of Central America.
Main foods eaten: . ...... Rice, beans, tortillas, eggs, chicken and
tropical fruit
Main exports:................ Coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles,
chemicals, electricity
Life expectancy: . ......... Female 77 years, male 68 years (UN, 2011)
Did you know?
Many civilizations have lived in El Salvador. The Olmecs came to the region
in 2000 BC, followed by the Mayans in 1500 BC. In the 11th century, the
Pipil people, descendants of Toltecs and Aztecs, became the dominant
group in El Salvador.
El Salvador…
In 1524 the Spanish arrived, taking control and forcing the native people
to become servants. El Salvador became independent from Spain in 1821
and gained full independence in 1841.
l is the only country in Central America not to have a
Caribbean coastline
By the 20th century, there was much inequality in El Salvador – a few
families were very rich and owned lots of land, but most people were poor
and earned very little. People became very angry at this unfairness. In
the 1970s, many people spoke out about what was happening, including
Oscar Romero, who was Archbishop of San Salvador. But the rich were very
powerful. If people complained they were put in prison or even killed.
Even so, Romero continued to tell the truth about what was happening
to poor people in his country. Every week in his sermons on the
radio, he spoke out against the violence. On 24 March 1980,
Romero was killed while saying Mass. From 1980–1992 there
was a long and violent civil war in the country. Many
Salvadorans fled to the United States. An estimated
75,000 people were killed.
The war ended in 1992. Salvadorans continue to work
hard to rebuild communities and make a better future
for themselves. El Salvador still has its challenges, including
poverty and gang violence as well as the risk of natural disasters.
Today about 2 million Salvadorans live in the United States, and
send money back to family still living in El Salvador.
l means ‘The Saviour’
l is the smallest country in Central America
l is known as the Land of Volcanoes – it has over 20
volcanoes, which is more than any other country in the
Pacific ‘ring of fire’.
CAFOD is the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development. We are the
official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part
of Caritas International. We work with partners across the world, wherever
the need is the greatest, to bring hope, compassion and solidarity to
poor communities, standing side by side with them to end poverty and
injustice. We work with people of all faiths and none.
CAFOD has been working in El Salvador since the 1970s. At that
time, there was much inequality between the rich and poor and
people began to demand change. CAFOD supported the Legal Aid
Office of Archbishop Romero. This office helped the families of people who
were imprisoned or even killed for speaking out against injustice. Today,
CAFOD focuses on projects which reduce the risk of disasters, help farmers
to improve their crops, and help to build peace in the country.
GEOGRAPHY activities sheet
Locational knowledge
l U
sing a world map, globe and/or atlases, ask the children to
locate Latin America and El Salvador. Name the countries
around El Salvador and the ocean beside it. Ask the children
to plan a journey to El Salvador. Discuss which ocean and
countries they would pass over to reach El Salvador. This
could be extended into a maths activity, for example by
calculating distances travelled.
l U
sing a world map, globe and/or atlases, ask children to
identify the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, the equator
and the Tropics. Locate El Salvador and the UK in relation to
these. Discuss what is meant by latitude and longitude, and
identify the position of El Salvador.
l U
sing the map of El Salvador included in this pack, as well
as atlases, locate San Salvador and other major cities in El
Salvador. Identify other key features in the country such as
mountain ranges, volcanoes, lakes, and coastal regions.
l W
ith the children, find out what the time is in El Salvador
now. How many hours different is it to the UK? Look at time
zones around the world.
See each photo card for a series of classroom
activities to develop children’s place knowledge
and understanding of key aspects of human and
physical geography.
Place knowledge
l Ask the children to research El Salvador and produce a
factfile about the country.
l E
xplain to the children that San Salvador is known as the
Valley of the Hammocks. Ask them to think about why this is
and challenge them to find out. Ask the children to find out
key facts about San Salvador and compare them to a city in
the UK.
l M
ake a classroom display about El Salvador. Use the
illustrated map in the display, including children’s written
work and drawings from their study of the country.
l A
fter the children have found out about the lives of the
children in the pack, ask them to think about which area
of El Salvador they would prefer to live in. Encourage your
class to give reasons why, thinking about the similarities and
differences between the different areas of El Salvador.
Human and physical geography
l In small groups, give children a set of photo cards and ask
them to sort them into those that look similar, explaining
their choices. Discuss similarities and differences.
l G
ive one photograph to each pair of children. Place it on a
large sheet of paper and ask the children to draw what they
think lies around the picture. Encourage them to talk and
discuss their ideas and reasons for them.
Cross curricular activities sheet
Religious education
l G
ive a photo card to each pair of children to write a caption for it or a speech
bubble about what people are saying or feeling.
l Research the life of Oscar Romero and produce a fact file or biography.
l P
roduce a travel brochure or advert about El Salvador. Research key attractions
and activities to be included.
l W
here do you see the principles of Catholic Social Teaching in each of the case
studies, for example, the promotion of peace or stewardship of creation? For
reflections and actions to carry out with your class go to cafod.org.uk/geography
l W
rite a letter to a child in El Salvador about your local area, comparing it to their
local area.
l W
rite a diary entry from the viewpoint of a Salvadoran farmer in the last few days
of the dry season. How would they feel?
l Imagine you have visited El Salvador and write postcards about your trip.
l Recreate a day in the life of one of the children as role play.
l Find out more about how CAFOD works and our values at cafod.org.uk
for Children
l U
se one of the photographs or film
clips as a stimulus for a session.
l F ind out more about the history
of El Salvador.
l R
esearch facts about El Salvador,
such as climate, population,
health and so on. Present the
data in different ways, such as
in graphs.
l Research plants and animals
found in El Salvador. How are
plants and animals suited to
the environment?
l R
esearch the Rights of the Child and for each case study consider which rights
are being fulfilled and which are not, for example, the right to clean water or
to education.
l L ook at the illustrations in the pack. What do they show about El Salvador? The
illustrations are by the Salvadoran artist, Fernando Llort. Research the artist and
find other examples of his work. Discuss his style and produce pieces of work in a
similar style.
l Design and draw or paint your own Romero cross.
l Think about the similarities and differences between your life and the life of one of
the children in the case studies. If prompts are required, use key themes such as
school, family, friends, food or the environment.
l Imagine you have just been to El Salvador. Write a persuasive letter to
international leaders highlighting what is fair and unfair for people living there and
what should be done.
Design and technology
l R
esearch different foods in El Salvador such as pupusas (pronounced “poo-poosas”). Find a simple recipe and hold an international food tasting day. Remember
to check for allergies.