Nearly one of third of the population lives in San Salvador. It is a crowded city, and actually is the third location to bear the name. It is a city that has many contrasts and is still recovering from the nation’s violent civil war that occurred in the 1980s. The city center features wide avenues and boulevards, including two of the widest streets anywhere in Central America. Along with the smaller streets, which can be tight, narrow and winding, the city has a unique charm.

The city’s middle class live in suburbs and neighborhoods near the wealthy suburbs, and many of these consist of mini-walled villages or guarded high-rise buildings. These neighborhoods make for a charming place for visitors to take in the plazas, shopping malls and other attractions. Most of the upscale hotels are located in this part of town. Due to past earthquakes and volcanic activity; San Salvador is located in a volcanic valley, many of the older historic buildings have been destroyed. This coupled with the civil war has left a mark on the neighborhoods to which the city is only now finally recovering.

The poorer neighborhoods are located in the northern and eastern parts of the city, and this is in addition to the sad state of shantytowns that exist along the city’s outskirts. As a result of these contrasts the city of San Salvador has a Bohemian quality that is unlike many other Latin American cities.