El Salvador Religion

El Salvador Religion

The Catholic Church has traditionally been dominant in El Salvador. But just as elsewhere in Latin America, Protestant communities have gained ground and more and more identify themselves as non-believers.

Almost half of Salvadoran people today refer to themselves as Catholics, while up to 40 percent refer to themselves as Protestants (the figures vary slightly between different surveys). At least one in ten do not identify with any religious group, while 2-3 percent belong to another religion, such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.

Missionaries especially from evangelical communities came to El Salvador during the second half of the 20th century and received a major impact not least during the civil war of 1980-1992. Many residents came during that period to associate the Catholic Church with the oppressive state power, or thought that the Church did not do enough to protect the residents from being overwhelmed. They sought out communities that emphasized the individual’s private faith. The defection from the Catholic Church has continued ever since.

However, even within the Catholic Church there was opposition to the political and military repression that increased from the 1970s. The so-called liberation theology then grew strong within the church. The liberation theologians demanded social and political change for the benefit of the poor, which worried conservative forces. Several priests were killed by right-wing death squads, including Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980. He was declared saint by the Vatican in 2018 and is today hailed as a hero by many Salvadorans (see Calendar and Political System). Both the Catholic Church and Protestant churches are still engaged in human rights issues. At the same time, not least the evangelical groups have contributed to making abortion legislation in El Salvador one of the most stringent in the world (see Social Conditions). Test: Evangelical.

El Salvador Population Pyramid 2020

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in El Salvador, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.



Giant seizure of cocaine

December 12

The fleet states that close to a ton of cocaine, worth about $ 25 million, has been seized and eight people arrested on boats off the coast. The seizure is the second largest made in the country – the largest was 1.8 tonnes and was made aboard a submarine in October.


Ex-President Funes is sentenced to pay

A court ruled that ex-president Mauricio Funes and his son Diego Funes have been guilty of improperly seizing assets, and they are ordered to repay the equivalent of just over $ 200,000 each to the state. However, they are both on the run in Nicaragua (see September 2016).


Over 400 are arrested in the fight against criminal gangs in El Salvador

September 14

Police forces in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala carry out joint action against criminal gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18. Around 1,000 suspected gang members are arrested, including 428 in El Salvador, and a number of properties and vehicles are seized. According to analysts, the operation may be a result of pressure from US President Donald Trump who has promised to crush MS-13, which also operates in the United States.


Terrorism charges are being considered against gang members

February 13

A process is underway to determine if 308 gang members are to be indicted for terrorism, because they stopped public transport and murdered seven bus drivers (see July 2015). Most of them have been detained since August 2015. They belong to Revolucionarios, a group within Barrio 18.

The United States wants to stop migration

February 7

El Salvador receives close to $ 98 million from the United States, to combat the causes that large crowds of Salvadoran people are trying to enter the United States illegally. One third of the money will go towards stimulating economic growth and the rest to support democracy and political institutions. The money comes from a $ 750 million fund set aside by the United States for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).

El Salvador Religion