El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. Honduras lies to the north and east, while to the southeast is the small Gulf of Fonseca, dividing the country from Nicaragua. South is the Pacific Ocean. Guatemala lies to the west and northwest.

El Salvador is a mountainous country. Two major ranges, the Coastal Range and the Sierra Madre, cross the country from east to west. In the northwest, the dormant Santa Ana volcano is the highest peak, at 2,365 metres. The volcanoes benefit Salvadorans by providing rich, fertile soil for farming. Many towns and cities, such as the capital of San Salvador, are located near volcano bases. Some volcano craters are filled with deep lakes, while rivers such as the Rio Lempa, the countryís largest, gush down from the mountains. Tectonic activity from volcanoes means that El Salvador is prone to earthquakes.

Between the mountain ranges lies a central plateau at an average elevation of 610 metres. This area is the largest and most populated part of the country, home to San Salvador and other cities. Plantations and subtropical grasses cover much of the plateauís valleys and plains.

The narrow Pacific coastal belt is a lowland area of heavy farming. Estuaries and swampy lagoons attract numerous species of birds, including ducks, herons and jays, as well as turtles and alligators. Further inland, Cerro Verde National Park is home to 120 bird species, including many types of hummingbirds.

Most rural land in El Salvador has been converted to farms. Some mountain areas have patches of pine and oak forests, while the central plains and valleys have balsam, cedar and mahogany trees. Fruit trees such as coconut, tamarind, orange, mango and melon are common, especially in the south. Sugarcane and bananas are also abundant. Dense population and deforestation have destroyed the habitat of many animals, although monkeys, jaguars, coyotes, pumas, boa constrictors and iguanas can still be found.

Climate varies in El Salvador according to elevation. The lowlands have a tropical climate, the plateau has a semitropical climate, and mountain areas experience more temperate weather. The country has only two seasons: the dry summer season, lasting from October to April, and a wet winter season from May to September, when rain occurs almost daily. Temperatures in San Salvador average around 30°C every day, and hover around 22°C at night.

  Did you know?
The Montecristo Nature Reserve in northern El Salvador is a breeding ground for the quetzal, a bird with brilliant plumage and a long tail.

  Did you know?
El Salvadorís tropical vegetation includes more than 200 species of orchids, which bloom between February and April.