El Salvador’s distribution of land is highly inequitable and was at the root of conflict and civil war during the late 20th century. By the 1980s, the country defined by its large poor work force was ruled by a powerful landowning class.

El Salvador initiated agrarian reforms in the 1980s and 1990s that had some limited successes at addressing inequality. Landlessness and inequitable distribution of land remain a problem. Land access problems are further exacerbated by the country’s extremely high population density; it’s among the highest in the world. In addition, one-third of land parcels in the country are not included in the land registry and the poor often fail to register land transactions in order to avoid significant transfer taxes. This makes them vulnerable to exploitation.

Land tenure remains an important and highly political issue in El Salvador. The election of a leftist president on March 15, 2009 might indicate substantial political changes for El Salvador.

Deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and water pollution are all also serious problems in El Salvador. Lack of institutional capacity and corruption are problems within the institutions charged with overseeing the forestry and minerals sectors.

Past Projects Include:

El Salvador land reform assistance.

Supported by Government of El Salvador and private foundations. Landesa provided legal and other technical assistance to El Salvador’s land reform agency. March 1989 to April 1989.

Land reform and land titling in El Salvador.

Supported by American Institute for Free Labor Development and private foundations. Landesa provided legal and policy consulting to democratic campesino organizations in El Salvador on land reform and land titling issues. January 1988 to November 1988.