Miss Universe 2023 to take place in El Salvador

The Central American country last hosted the beauty pageant in 1975

Alejandra Guajardo, Miss Universe El Salvador 2022, in an outfit inspired by the country's use of Bitcoin, and previously the cocoa beans as a currency, during the 71st Miss Universe competition on January 11, 2023. Reuters
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After a glitzy 2022 finale in Louisiana, it's been announced that Miss Universe 2023 is heading back to the Americas and will be held in El Salvador.

No date for the next competition has been officially announced, although it's expected to be held later this year, after last year's pageant was postponed in a bid to avoid clashing with the Fifa Qatar World Cup in November.

The announcement was made by the country's President Nayib Bukele during the 71st Miss Universe in New Orleans, where Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel took the crown, becoming the first Filipina-American to win the competition.

"El Salvador is a country that is full of beauty," said Bukele in a recorded video. "We have the best surfing beaches in the world, magnificent volcanoes, exquisite coffee and we have now become the safest country in Latin America.

"I would like to thank the Miss Universe Organisation for joining us in this historic process. El Salvador is changing and we want you to come and see it for yourselves."

Officially known as the Republic of El Salvador, the country is in Central America, sharing borders with Honduras and Guatemala.

It last held the pageant in 1975, in San Salvador, when Miss Finland took the crown.

The US has held the pageant more than any other nation, but other host countries have included Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, Vietnam, Greece, Cyprus, South Korea and Singapore, to name a few.

In 2021, when India's Harnaaz Sandhu came in first, it was held in Israel for the first time.

Major changes at Miss Universe afoot

While more information on the competition and venue are yet to be announced, fans can expect major changes in the pageant this year.

In October, Thai media and content company JKN Global Group acquired the Miss Universe Organisation from IMG, making chief executive Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip the first woman to own the global beauty competition in its 70-year history.

JKN, which owns a portfolio of broadcast and media titles, said the deal will build on the pageant's legacy and further its commitment to inclusivity. There are also plans to expand the Miss Universe brand, including the launch of MU Lifestyle, a new licensing and merchandising arm.

Last year, the Miss Universe Organisation made a historic decision to change qualification rules for contestants for the first time in seven decades. According to an internal memo seen by The National, the organisation said it will allow married women and mothers to participate.

Previously, only single women, aged between 18 and 28, who have never been married or had children, could apply.

"We all believe that women should have agency over their lives and that a human's personal decisions should not be a barrier to their success," the memo said.

The rules will be in effect for the 72nd Miss Universe contest.

Israel bows out

In November, for the first time in seven decades, Israel announced it would not send a beauty queen to the 2022 Miss Universe pageant.

The Miss Israel organisation released a statement, saying it would not participate in the pageant, which was founded in 1952.

The Times of Israel reported that opinions in the country were divided on whether or not beauty pageants remain relevant in 2022.

The announcement was made a year after the Israeli southern resort city of Eilat hosted the global pageant.

It remains to be seen if any other nations will follow suit this year.

Scroll through the gallery below to see Miss Universe 2022 national costume round

Updated: January 15, 2023, 5:56 AM