La Palma is located west of the department of Chalatenango, 82 kilometers from San Salvador, and 8 kilometers from El Poy, the El Salvador-Honduras border.

La Palma is well-known for its wood crafts and designs in Naïf art, a creation of Salvadoran painter Fernando Llort, who also designed the mosaics of the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador. Llort is one of the most emblematic people that has influenced this municipality, and with his hard work he taught the villagers the “naïf” art, a technique that basically consists of representing moments of everyday rural life, as well as typical flora and fauna of the place, made in copinol seeds. In most of the houses of La Palma you can find workshops where crafts are made in wood, leather, ceramics, different kinds of seeds and designs on cotton clothes. Currently, this craft activity is what generates more income and jobs in this town.

In addition to being renowned for its handicrafts, La Palma became the center of attention in 1984, when President José Napoleón Duarte met with rebel guerrilla leaders in an attempt to end the civil war, this being the first peace talk since the beginning of the war in 1980.

La Palma was part of the so-called Caminos Reales (Royal Roads), this being the route to get to Honduras. Since the first years of independence, it has been the scene of national battles, since it was municipal and government forces that fought against the troops of the ex-president Francisco Malespín, in both battles Malespín was defeated.


Arising from the colonial period, the name derives from a place formerly called the Palmita, a small village in the area located near Nonuapa River. After a flood of that river in 1882, their settlers moved to the present place and founded La Palma. In 1959 by Legislative Decree, it became a town and municipality, consisting of the cantons of Los Horcones, Los Planes, Las Granadillas, El Gramal, San José Sacaré, El Túnel, El Aguacatal and San Josecalera.

The area has great relevance in the History of El Salvador since it played a prominent role in the solution of civil war. From 1980, the municipality was a platform of the ideological work of the guerrillas and later, it served as a battleground for combat between the insurgents and the army. On October 15, 1984, the president Jose Napoleón Duarte and the leaders of the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) had their first encounter, initiating the treaty that would culminate with Peace Accords of Chapultepec.


The municipality covers an area of approximately 131,89 km ². Its jurisdictional borders are: to the north with San Ignacio, to the south with Agua Caliente, the east with Honduras and the municipalities of San Fernando, San Francisco Morazán and La Reina, and to the west with Metapan and Citalá, borders by the Lempa River.

La Palma is part of the mountainous zone of El Salvador, enjoying a cool climate. Administratively, the municipality is divided in 8 cantons and 87 small villages (caserios) in the rural area and 6 districts in the urban area. On July 1 of 1956, it was estimated that the population of La Palma was 5,337, 2,780 male and 2,957 female. In 2006, however it was calculated that municipality of La Palma had a total population of 24,000 inhabitants in the urban and rural areas.


Climate data for La Palma, Chalatenango, El Salvador
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 18.5
Average low °C (°F) 7.0
Record low °C (°F) −1.2


The economy of La Palma is based principally on the arts and crafts. 75% of the population lives off this trade and the revenue from tourism. The other 25% is involved in agriculture, the primary crops being vegetables, corn, beans and coffee.


Coffee production is, according to the municipal economic report of 2006, the second most important industry in La Palma, although it has been decreasing due to the strong competition of foreign producers. In 1988, coffee production accounted for over half of El Salvador's revenue from exports, whereas for 2004 it has fallen dramatically to just 7%.

Tourist attractions

  • 13 kilometers outside La Palma town is Miramundo. It is located in the hill forest at an altitude of 2400 metres and is noted for its cool climate. The average temperature average of Miramundo is just 12 °C.
  • 3 kilometers away is San Ignacio, a small town at 1010 metres. There are hotels and several organized tourist activities in the area. Citalá and the Lempa River are just a few minutes north of San Ignacio.
  • Las Pilas is located in mountain forest of La Palma, with a very cold climate, even more so than Miramundo. The main agricultural products there are blackberries, strawberries, peaches, lettuce and cabbages.
  • The Cayahuanca Stone (Piedra Cayahuanca ) is to 4 kilometers to the north of San Ignacio between Honduras and El Salvador, approximately 1550 metres above sea level. The rock marks the territorial border, giving a panoramic view of both countries. During Easter, the local inhabitants and visitors meet at the point of Cayahuanca the Stone and camp overnight.
  • El Pital is 12 kilometers from the town of La Palma. At a height of 2730 metres it is the highest point of the Salvadoran territory. It is a mountain in the middle of a cloudy forest that has an average annual temperature of 10 °C. On April 13, 2004, the temperature hit record lows and much of the hill was covered by a frost and ice that caused commotion between the settlers, attributing the phenomenon to a supposed " nevada"