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El Salvador – History Meets Natural Beauty

El Salvador, a Central American republic is fast gaining reputation as a tourist destination because of its beaches, water sports, national parks and mountains.

History
The Pipil warriors are the original inhabitants of El Salvador. The Spanish annexed it in 1525 and ruled it as part of the Guatemalan Captaincy General till 1821. In 1821, it declared independence from Spain but was but was forced to join Central American United Provinces in 1823. This federation finally dissolved in 1838 leading to El Salvador attaining the status of an independent republic. The nation also faced a deadly civil war between 1979 and 1997.

Popular Places and Attractions
El Salvador has many great beaches but the one that stand out is Barre de Santiago. It is also a nature reserve for bird species and butterflies. Zapote Estuary’s mangroves can be explored by boat and kayaking, fishing or canoeing can be taken up amidst the company of rare species like the red macaw and marine turtle.

San Salvador, the capital offers an opportunity to explore its colonial past through various monuments like the National Palace, National Theatre, National Library, La Ceiba de Guadalupe church and the Metropolitan Cathedral. The route of flowers near the city is a great place to understand the nation’s culture through its beautiful countryside, traditions and handicrafts.

Some other popular attractions in El Salvador are its coffee plantations, eco-tourism, museums, 14 lakes, 25 volcanoes and Mayan heritage. San Andres, Joya de Ceren (a town destroyed by volcanic eruption 1,400 years ago) and Tazumal are centres of the nation’s Mayan heritage. The Bosque El Impossible National Park, Isla de Olomega, Montecresto Cloud forest and La Isla de Mendez’s coconut islands are just few of the many eco-tourism sites in the country.

Getting Around
Planes, buses, taxis, microbuses, rented cars, motorcycles and cycling are the various modes of transportation available in El Salvador, the best guide to easy travel is to have some small change handy to pay the fares.

Places for Entertainment
Restaurants, nightclubs, discotheques, theatres, concerts, bars and shopping malls are the usual places for entertainment in El Salvador. La Zona Rosa is the nation’s most regarded night spot. Most of the cinema halls and shopping malls also have nightclubs. The nation’s best souvenirs to buy would be hand-painted wood from La Palma, wicker furniture from Nahuizalco and ceramics from llobasco. San Salvador’s craft market is also very popular. The La Ventana art exhibition is one of the nation’s most revered elite gatherings. For adventure lovers, good facilities are available for surfing, diving, and white-water rafting, hiking and mountain-biking.

Accommodation
Budget hotels, inns, guesthouse, bed & Breakfast, Motels, youth hostels, beach resorts, mountain retreats and villas are available for looking after the accommodation requirements of El Salvador’s visitors.

Currency
El Salvador has adopted the U.S Dollar as its official currency since 2001. Leading credit cards and traveller’s cheques are also accepted in major cities and towns. Bureaux de change provides the official currency exchange services, before you change your money check the internet and news for the latest exchange rates.

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