Subscribe to SmallPlanet

We Need Your Help

Five stars on Amazon! Don't miss Talesmag's first book of essays, on cross-cultural food experiences from Mexico to Mongolia (plus recipes!)
Submit a Real Post Report

San Salvador

Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Being in the wrong area at the wrong time can be extremely dangerous. The area where we spend out days is very safe. - Nov 22, 2017
Yes. It's mostly gang-related and USG personnel are not targeted, but a lot of "random" crime does affect us. Plus, it affects our Embassy colleagues, our domestic staff, and more. This is not a post where you can walk around or just spontaneously explore -- much has to be planned. - Jul 14, 2016
Short answer: yes. Long answer: it is very complicated. El Salvador will have the highest murder rate in the world (excluding active war zones) in 2015. Criminal violence, especially gang-related, is a serious problem in the entire country, and is by far the hardest/most difficult part of living here. There are multiple areas of the city that are entirely off-limits at all times. Within the diplomatic bubble, we aren't really directly affected by it as much (the gangs aren't looking to pick a fight with the USG). Yes, we can't just go for a walk at night, but then again, the roads (and drivers) here are completely pedestrian unfriendly anyway so it's kind of a moot point. We follow our security advice and feel safe here. The hardest part is that the violence affects everyone else in the country so much more. So while we feel safe, our gardener and nanny do have to worry about it as it directly affects their communities. - Dec 8, 2015
Yes. El Salvador is rated critical for crime. Gangs and violence are a terrible problem here and the country recently became the most murderous in the world. However, living where we do we do not see the violence. It is a concern but not one I see evidence of in my day-to-day life. This is good but sad- it is definitely the normal life for many locals but we do not see it. - Jun 9, 2015
Yes. This is a critical crime post though honestly it rarely impacts us. Overall, just be smart and stay out of the gang areas. Several folks walk to work and feel fine. - Mar 23, 2015
Yes many. El Salvador is a very high crime post. The RSO warns us often about restricted areas, and gangs and crime are a very real thing. That being said, I just followed the RSO advice and never had problems. I stuck to places where it was safe to go and walk, would not wear expensive jewelry in public, and did not go to the restricted neighborhoods. During festivals and events with lots of people standing close together, many Americans got pick pocketed. You just have to be vigilant. - Oct 29, 2014
Yes, major. - Jul 8, 2014
ES is one of the most dangerous countries on earth due to ongoing gang activity and drug trafficking. There were 4308 murders in 2011. Though this is unlikely to affect you directly as an expat, unless you are running narcotics, it casts a pale over the country's psyche that, to be brief, sucks incredibly. - Apr 28, 2012
You will never forget that you are living in a high security threat country. It will affect every aspect of your life. - Jul 15, 2011
El Salvador is a critical crime post, and is often listed among the murder capitals of the world. There are frequent muggings, and most cars are missing their spare tires and brand emblems. The busses are a definite no-go zone, as are about 10 or 15 other towns and villages due to being gang strongholds. Homes have electrified razor wire atop 10-foot-high walls. The insane drivers could also get you killed. All that being said, I do not feel unsafe here. If you do get mugged and give people what they want, you will walk away from it. There have been a few attempts by inmates to call and extort some embassy staff members, but the security section handles them well. While you do have to be vigilant, keep an eye on your purse, avoid the ganglands, don't drive around with the windows down or leave anything visible in your car, I feel safer living here than I did for the 5 years I lived in New Orleans. There is incalculable violence going on between the gangs, but they're mostly too busy killing each other to bother with you. - May 21, 2010
This is a high-threat crime post. However, we've never had serious problems. There are parts of the city that most ex-pats won't travel into, although my family has walked the streets of just about every part of the city without problems. Most of the problems are gang related and the violence and murders occurs within gangs. As a trend, tourists are not generally targeted for violent attacks, but you have to watch for things like car break ins, pick pockets or muggings. We travel outside the city and feel very comfortable. Sometimes there have been problems on the road between San Salvador and Guatemala City, but we have made the trip four or five times and never had any trouble there either. If you are alert and careful about where you go and when, you can enjoy San Salvador without unnecessary stress. - Feb 28, 2009