Land of Volcanoes

El Salvador is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the most geographically active land in the world! The Ring of Fire is home to a huge percentage of the world’s volcanoes, and almost all of the world’s earthquakes.

El Salvador itself is home to 22 active and extinct volcanoes, the largest of which are now lakes. This country may be small, but it certainly doesn’t lack beautiful scenery. The volcanoes are impressive and majestic to see from afar, or for the brave, up close!



From our front yard at Love & Hope, we are able to peak over the wall to see the top of the San Salvador volcano, also called Volcan Quezaltepec  (the volcanoes have a Spanish and indigenous name). The San Salvador volcano is quite impressive and it can be admired from almost every spot in the city. It last erupted in 1917, and tourists can now drive to the crater to visit one of El Salvador’s national parks. In many images of the San Salvador volcano, one can see that it has a higher peak and a second, flattened out peak. That flattened out hump is actually a giant crater! Some of us have climbed into it, all the way to the bottom.


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Recently several of our kids climbed to the top of the Santa Ana volcano, or Volcan Ilamatepec. Santa Ana last erupted quite recently, in 2005. In the middle the crater at the top of the volcano is a bubbling, sulfurous, aqua colored lake. It is quite the spectacle (but safe to climb!).

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Last year, around Christmas, the big news in El Salvador was the San Miguel Volcano, or Volcan Chaparrastique. It erupted in December, 2013 and was quite the sight! Many of the people living around the volcano had to evacuate the area.

Photo credit: La Prensa Grafica
Photo credit: La Prensa Grafica

When we say geographically active, we are not only referring to volcanoes, we are also talking about earthquakes. The last major earthquakes occurred in 2001, a pair of them in January and February caused major damage and over 1000 deaths. Thankfully, there have been no serious earthquakes since, but we frequently feel tremors, some that send us running out the door just in case. According to Earthquake Track, El Salvador has experienced 124 earthquakes this year, but that doesn’t mean we’ve felt all of them!

A few weeks ago, we experienced the largest earthquake this year, which measured in at a magnitude of 7.3! It happened at almost 10:00 pm, so many people said they didn’t feel it, but our house sure did. It wasn’t a very violent earthquake, but it was long, and sent the Love & Hope kids running to the driveway. It rattled (literally) everyone’s nerves a bit. Thankfully, the quake didn’t cause much damage in El Salvador, but there were tsunami warnings on the coast! We were surprised that the quake made international news; we woke up the next morning to text and Facebook messages from the States making sure all of us at Love & Hope were safe.

Recently, our staff formed evacuation, fire and first-aid brigades. It sounds unbelievable, but having a plan of action in case of a volcanic eruption or earthquake is necessary in El Salvador! The three brigades of staff members have been working to plan out our strategies for evacuation, practice drills and other precautions.

El Salvador certainly doesn’t lack an interesting landscape. We see and feel it every single day! Salvadorans are proud of their unique country, and much of their culture and folklore has been majorly influenced by the land. El Salvador is known as the “Land of Volcanoes,” and for a good reason!

5984587879_cd7e612bb2_zPhoto credits: Justin Klubnik, Mandy Sidorski and Esther Lee