El Salvador is located in Central America. It has an area of 20,742 km2. The country is typically characterized by a dry season (November to April) and a rainy season (May to October), although in recent years this behavior has been very variable.
The land area mostly consists of volcanoes, mountains and valleys. The Sierra Madre (Spanish for "mother mountain range") in the north and a coastal mountain chain in the south, determine the geographical characteristics of the country, including valleys and a central plateau.
El Salvador is considered the most deforested country in Central America. Between 1978 and 2000, the amount of forest cover in the country has fluctuated between just 5.8% and 8.7%. The key causes of the declining forest area have been agriculture and high population growth. In addition, a range of natural phenomena compounds the problem.
In El Salvador, around 1,970 km² of land is exposed to severe and moderate floods; 4,040 km² is exposed to various types of landslides and more than 10,000 km² is likely to be affected by severe, moderate or weak droughts. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, the country has been one of the fifteen nations most affected by extreme weather events over the past twenty years.
The agricultural sector accounts for 12% of gross domestic product (GDP). Of the sector, agriculture (green coffee, basic grains, sugar cane and other crops) comprises 61%, livestock activities comprise 31%, fishing and hunting comprise 3% and forestry comprises 5%. Of the total area under crop cultivation, 55% is occupied by grains, 42% is devoted to agro-industrial products and 2 and 1% is covered by fruit and vegetables respectively. Basic grains produced are maize, beans, sorghum, and rice, while major contributors to GDP are coffee and sugar cane. The main livestock activities are cattle, pigs, poultry and beekeeping. Livestock in El Salvador is largely small-scale and, in the case of cattle, is mostly dual purpose.
Regarding the use of natural resources, it is noteworthy that 70% of the available water in the country is used for irrigation, while domestic and industrial use requires 10 and 20% respectively.
A recurring problem in the country are forest fires, which have been increasing in recent years. However, preventive actions for fire control is being achieved by raising awareness and environmental education at the community and household levels.