I've been traveling to El Salvador for over 9 years now. I find it to be a mixed bag of goodies. I am not a politically correct man and I'm not here to make friends or enemies; just give my personal outlook to help give a balanced viewpoint for any new visitors here. Here's my assessment:
1. The people of El Salvador (guanacos) are not your stereotypical "friendly, welcoming 3rd world nice folks"; perhaps they were before the war in the 1980s, but their innocence and cherry has been popped. I found the educated people in the capital to be polite, firm but distant; not much different than anyone else you'd meet in the United States. The folks in the canton and small pueblos like San Sebastian (district San Vicente) are somewhat shy but not very polite. I found the poor people in El Salvador to be not much different than poor people here in Los Angeles, CA. Generally speaking in my experience, I found most people in El Salvador were xenophobes, not polite, very retail oriented and almost totally dependent on "remesas" money sent from the USA. I found a surprising number of people I met in El Salvador to be candid, forward, vulgar, somewhat barbaric in terms of International cognizance. Their world almost revolves around "orgullo de centro america" (pride of central america; especially being a guanaco) and money from the United States.
2. The colonias in El Salvador's rural and sub-rural areas are reminiscent of parts of gang-infested Los Angeles. There's an aura of a small pueblo with its broken up streets, no street signs, cattle crossing the road, barefoot kids playing futbol, chalets selling juice and pupusas, and also the sureno gang graffiti from 18th Street gang, Alabama Street gang, and Marasalvatrucha (MS13) gang. On the way to San Miguel, I stopped off at Nueva Grande which is a small canton about 30 minutes west of San Miguel. Very quiet place, agricultral, but I saw tattooed gang members and a few strung out people (meth addicts) interspersed with the calm tranquility of a rural town. As I said, a mixed bag but IMHO, I paint a realistic picture of life here.
3. Expenses here are high. IMHO, this is not a bannana republic paradise for the American expat; nor a bargain hunters haven. The costs are almost identical to the USA. In fact, clothes, shoes, textiles, jewelry, entertainment and fuel are high if not higher than the USA. Unequivocally, the price of new vehicles and electronic goods are 10%-20% higher than the USA.
4. Homes, land (lote), beer and fresh food products are abundant and inexpensive.
5. The police officers here are not as corrupt as the ones in Mexico. The cops in Mexico (especially Baja California) are renowned mordelones and corruptos. Many of them work as muscle for the drug cartels. Salvadoreno police officers have been in my experience, very stern but fair.
6. Tourism is OK if you've never traveled in latin america before. If you've been to Panama, Honduras, Mexico or Colombia, you'll find the layout of the land very similar. The food, music, and some nuances are obviously different. I didn't find the tourism part to be stellar. It was acceptable but not something I'd do again.
....I haven't been to the African continent so I think that'd be an exciting tourist destination for me personally. In closing, El Salvador may not have been a memorable tourist destination spot for me since much of my travel has been in Latin America. It is worth driving through and maybe staying for a night or two but it really is not that much different from Los Angeles in terms of traffic, retail entertainment and expenses. I would say El Salvador is a hybrid of a bannana republic urbanized Los Angeles.