San Salvador is the chief commercial and marketing center. However, following the end of the civil war, thousands of Salvadorans returned from the US and made San Miguel and Santa Ana one of the most industrialized cities in Central America.
Food is generally produced in small, scattered plots in the vicinity of urban areas and taken to market by traders (mostly women), either on their heads or by pack animals. Residents of remote rural areas usually consume most of what they produce exchanging the remainder for other commodities. In urban areas, the business units are mainly small shops, while in rural regions, individual traders conduct their business at town marketplaces, where agricultural produce, meats, fruit, handicrafts, ceramics, and flowers are sold.
A 10% value added tax was established in 1992 and raised to 13% in 1995. The central bank estimates that nearly $150 million per month, over $1.9 billion per year (2001 est.) is added to the economy through remittances of expatriates, primarily those living in the United States.
The usual business hours in the major cities are from 8 AM to noon and from 2 to 6 PM on weekdays and from 8 AM to noon on Saturday. Banking hours are from 9 to 11:30 AM and from 2:30 to 4 PM on weekdays, with a half day on Saturday.