El Salvador is a former colony of Spain, from which it received its independence in 1821. It has a population of slightly over 6 million and a land area approximately the size of Massachusetts. Approximately 90% of the population is mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian), with 9% of European heritage and 1% Amerindian. The per capita income is about $4,700/year. This fact, coupled with the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, has created a tremendous emigration of Salvadorans to the United States. In Spanish, El Salvador is commonly written as El Salvador C.A.; the C.A. stands for Central America so that the name of the country is not confused with God (El Salvador means “the Savior” in Spanish).