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San Salvador History, El Salvador

San Salvador’s history does not go back a long time. It was settled only in the pre-Spanish Conquest days when Pipil groups settled in the region and chose a site close to the present city of San Salvador as their capital, Cuscatlán. There is not enough information available about this capital city (or about the settlement) because the people having sensed the imminent invasion had deserted the place fearing the consequences of the Spanish invasion.

San Salvador History after the Spanish Conquest

After the Spanish Conquest, a community of the same name (i.e. San Salvador) was founded by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado in 1525. This township was close to Suchitoto and about 30km to the northeast of the present city-site. It was shifted to the present location in the Valle de Las Hamacas three years later in 1528. In 1546, the township of San Salvador was re-built and named a city.

San Salvador History and Central America’s Independence Movement

The city of San Salvador played a significant role in Central America’s independence movement. In fact, this particular city is credited with being the birth-place of the movement, when in 1811 Father José Matías Delgado formally demanded Central America’s independence from Spanish rule for the first time.

After the independence was achieved in 1821 and the Mexican Empire was dissolved (two years later), Central American countries were united to form a Federal Republic; El Salvador became a State of this federation and in 1824, San Salvador was made the capital of the El Salvador State. Ten years later, San Salvador went on to become the capital of the Federal Republic replacing Guatemala City.

When the Federal Republic was dissolved and El Salvador became an independent nation in 1839, San Salvador became its capital.

San Salvador History after El Salvador’s Independence

San Salvador’s history has not really seen many good days after it became the capital city of a free nation. It has been a history marked by natural disasters (as the city has been hit by a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in 1854, 1873, 1917, 1986 and 2001 and by heavy floods in 1934), in-fighting and gang problems.

The internal conflicts of the 1980s took the shape of a civil war and San Salvador became its central-stage (especially after the final offensive of 1989). This together with the climbing crime-rate made San Salvador the most unsafe city in the world in 1992. (In contrast, the capital city of its neighboring country, Nicaragua, Managua, is one of the safest places in the world). All these causes coupled with the rapid population growth of the city (San Salvador is now the second most-populated city of Central America, preceded only by Guatemala City) has weakened the city’s economy considerably. The end of the civil war is a good sign indeed; however, an uphill task lies ahead before things begin to get better.

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San Salvador City Ratings

  • Rating73%
    City Rank199
  • History & Culture: rated for 58%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 80%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 88%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 70%
  • Food: rated for 100%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 78%
  • Shopping: rated for 60%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 48%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 90%
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