El Salvador Issues - 2023


Disputes - international

El Salvador-Honduras: International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the delimitation of "bolsones" (disputed areas) along the El Salvador-Honduras border in 1992 with final settlement by the parties in 2006 after an Organization of American States survey and a further ICJ ruling in 2003; the 1992 ICJ ruling advised a tripartite resolution to a maritime boundary in the Gulf of Fonseca with consideration of Honduran access to the Pacific; El Salvador continues to claim tiny Conejo Island, not mentioned in the ICJ ruling, off Honduras in the Gulf of Fonseca.

Refugees and internally displaced persons

IDPs: 71,500 (2021)

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — El Salvador does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; officials convicted more traffickers and identified more victims; however, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared with the previous year to improve its anti-trafficking capacity; the government significantly reduced the number of specialized prosecutors; less than half of all victims received government services or referrals to care providers; officials did not implement procedures to identify potential victims among children apprehended for gang-related activity or persons forcibly displaced from their homes; the government did not initiate any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials allegedly complicit in trafficking crimes or report progress on investigations from previous years; the anti-trafficking council was inactive and did not draft a new national anti-trafficking action plan, report on the government's 2021 efforts, or compile data across agencies; therefore, El Salvador was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List (2022)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in El Salvador, and traffickers exploit victims from El Salvador abroad; adults and children are exploited in sex trafficking within the country; children without parents, adolescent girls, and LGBTQI+ persons—especially transgender persons—are at particular risk; sex trafficking reportedly occurs in the tourism industry; traffickers exploit victims within their own communities, sometimes their own children or other family members; Salvadoran adults and children are exploited in forced labor in agriculture, domestic service, and begging; adults and children from neighboring countries—particularly Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua—are exploited in sex trafficking and forced labor in construction, domestic service, or the informal sector; traffickers recruit victims in regions of El Salvador with high levels of violence; limited government presence in gang-controlled territory exacerbates trafficking risks; gangs use the pretense of domestic employment to lure women into forced labor; transnational criminal organizations and gangs including MS-13 and Barrio 18 recruit, abduct, train, arm, and subject children to forced labor—including assassinations, extortion, and drug trafficking; these groups subject women and children, including LGBTQI+ children, to sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic service and child care; Salvadoran men, women, and children are exploited in sex trafficking and forced labor in Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States; traffickers exploit some Central and South American, African, and Asian migrants who transit El Salvador to Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, and Canada in sex and labor trafficking; endemic corruption and complicity, including within law enforcement, the judiciary, the prison system, and local government, hinder anti-trafficking efforts (2022)

Illicit drugs

a transit country for illicit drugs destined for the United States;  a major source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics


NOTE: The information regarding El Salvador on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of El Salvador 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about El Salvador 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 22 Aug 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.