This land of volcanic eruptions and devastating earthquakes was occupied by indigenous Indian factions as early as 1500 BC, and the remains of their civilizations are strewn across the land.
The Spanish arrived in 1524 and the native tribes aggressively fought back; those invaders retreated, but they returned the next year and the locals were simply overpowered by Spanish military weapons.
By mid-century the city of San Salvador was up and running and the district of El Salvador were under the control of the Spanish Kingdom of Guatemala.
Over time the Spanish colonial system flourished here, and quite typically of all regional colonies, the indigenous Indian population was stripped of their land, and through abuse and repression were relegated to a rural, lower-class status.
After the overthrow of the Spanish King by Napoleon, El Salvador and others declared their independence from Spain in 1821. Then, El Salvador, as well as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua formed the United Provinces of Central America, but that federation quickly dissolved, and El Salvador became an independent republic in 1838.
Across the Americas, all of the new independent states experienced power grabs (revolutions), mostly fed by land-greed and for control of natural resources; El Salvador was no exception.
Serious problems began in 1932 with a coup, and for most of the remaining 20th century, El Salvador totally unraveled; its people suffered through decades of military rule, out-of-control death squads and the bloodshed of a 12-year civil war that all but destroyed the country.
That civil war finally ended, but then Hurricane Mitch paid a surprise visit in 1998; widespread flooding and landslides were the result, infrastructure was washed away, hundreds died, and over 50,000 Salvadorans were rendered homeless.
To make matters worse, on Saturday, January 13, 2001, a 7.69 earthquake struck; more than 1,000 died, and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. Today, the cost of rebuilding has now surpassed 3.5 billion dollars.
The small country of El Salvador is certainly a work in progress. On the positive side, and over the last ten years, the country has instigated a strong move toward democracy, countrywide modernization, and a greatly improved tourism industry.
El Salvador PhotographsVolcan de Izalco, El Salvador Detail of a license plate on the back of a colorful bus...
by Paul Kennedy
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This page was last modified on November 17, 2015.