Welcome to El Salvador, the first capital of Brazil and one of the murder capitals of the world. Salvador is an old colonial city where you will find baroque churches and charming buildings coloured in pinks, yellows and blues. Unfortunately, you will also find scam artists, pickpockets or heavily-armed street gangs such as The Maras which are responsible for the majority of murders here.
In 2015, the homicide rate peaked at a jaw-dropping 60.6 homicides per 100,000 residents. The rates have reduced since then but the latest statistics are still worrying at 47.5 per 100,000 residents. To put this number in context, London and New York are 1.2 and 3.4 respectively.
Surprisingly then, tourism still accounts for a large part of El Salvador’s economic income mainly due to its temperate climate, lush tropical surrounding landscapes and exciting city life with festivals and all-night salsa parties. However, tourists are advised to stay alert for common scams normally involving petty theft. One such scam is where a local (usually a child) distracts you while an accomplice steals your belongings. When visiting here, you’d be advised to travel with others, stick to main roads and hide valuable items as there is a high risk of pickpockets, muggings and assault on foreigners. Killings however are normally gang related.