U.S. Relations With El Salvador

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
December 30, 2016

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.


The United States established diplomatic relations with El Salvador in 1863 following its independence from Spain and the later dissolution of a federation of Central American states. Post-independence, the country saw a mix of revolutions, democracy, and a 1980-1992 civil war. After the signing of peace accords in 1992, the Salvadorans have consolidated their democracy through an uninterrupted chain of elected governments. The United States and El Salvador share a strong commitment to democracy, rule of law, and inclusive economic development. Ties are further enriched by more than 2 million Salvadorans who call the United States home.

El Salvador is a key partner in efforts to reduce irregular migration and the threats posed by transnational criminal organizations and gangs. The country has been a strong, durable partner on security and defense issues. However, endemic crime and impunity threaten El Salvador's progress by undermining the legitimacy of state institutions and impeding economic growth.

U.S. Assistance to El Salvador

U.S. diplomatic engagement and assistance are guided by the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America (Strategy). Announced in 2015, the Strategy is a multi-year effort focused on all the countries of Central America to promote an economically integrated region that is fully democratic; provides economic opportunities to its people; enjoys more accountable, transparent, and effective public institutions, and ensures a safe environment for its citizens. The surge in irregular migration to the United States from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in 2014 was just one result of the region’s challenges related to security, development, and governance that will only continue to deteriorate if unaddressed. The Strategy focuses on three overarching lines of action: 1) enhancing citizen security; 2) promoting good governance; and 3) promoting prosperity and regional economic integration. The Strategy supports and complements the Alliance for Prosperity (A4P), a joint initiative adopted by the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in 2014 to improve economic opportunities for their citizens; enhance human capital development; improve public safety and improve access to the legal system; and strengthen government institutions.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States and El Salvador are parties to the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic 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 300 U.S. companies have established either a permanent commercial presence in El Salvador or work through representative offices in the country. U.S. exports to El Salvador include fuel products, aircraft, machinery, and knit crocheted fabrics. U.S. imports from El Salvador include apparel and agricultural products (spices, coffee, tea and sugars). Remittances from Salvadorans working in the United States are an important source of income for many families in El Salvador and make up 17% of El Salvador’s GDP. The United States has a trade surplus with El Salvador, with exports to El Salvador in 2015 exceeding imports by $1.5 billion.

El Salvador's Membership in International Organizations

El Salvador and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, World Trade Organization, and Community of Democracies.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador is Jean Elizabeth Manes; other principal 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:

Department of State El Salvador Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook El Salvador Page
U.S. Embassy: El Salvador
USAID El Salvador Page
History of U.S. Relations With El Salvador
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information