El Salvador Just Had a Presidential Election; 9 Things You Should Know about the Country

* UPDATE: Diana Negroponte wrote about her concerns for democratic institutions in El Salvador after FMLN’s first round win.

On Sunday, El Salvador held a presidential election. Since the top vote-getter, Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)—the rebel army during El Salvador’s long civil war—came up just shy of 50 percent of the vote, he faces a runoff election next month. Diana Villiers Negroponte, a nonresident senior fellow, explained what’s at stake for Salvadorans and the U.S., arguing that the “U.S. role is to remain firmly neutral.” From this and other research on, here are 9 salient facts about El Salvador:

  1. One out of every 4 Salvadorans lives in the United States (more)
  2. Salvadorans in the U.S. send over $4 billion home annually (more)
  3. This remittance amounts to about 17 percent of the country’s GDP (more)
  4. El Salvador was the only Latin America country to send troops to Iraq (more)
  5. Salvadorans comprised the second largest group of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applicants in a Brookings analysis of DACA applications (more)
  6. Salvadorans are the U.S.’s sixth largest immigrant community (as of March 2011) (more)
  7. Over 75,000 people died in El Salvador’s Civil War (1980-92) (more)
  8. Half a million were displaced in the civil war (more)
  9. El Salvador suffered $2 billion in destruction during its civil war (more)

Daniel Zovatto, another nonresident senior fellow, comments on all of the election activity throughout Latin America this year, including the 7 presidential elections.

Get more Brookings research and commentary on El Salvador and Central America.

Also, learn more about the Latin America Initiative at Brookings.