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El Salvador

Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook


The Republic of El Salvador (Spanish for "The Savior") is a country in Central America with a population of approximately 6.7 million people. It is the most densely populated state on the American mainland and the most industrialized in Central America.

El Salvador gained its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821 and the Central American Federation in 1839.

In 1930 General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, the country's Minister of Defense, took power in a coup d'etat. Soon after, Martínez, now President, suppressed a 1932 revolt consisting of farmers and Indians in the western part of the country. The revolt was conducted by the newly formed Communist Party and its leader Agustín Farabundo Martí. The military left more than 20,000 people dead in retaliatory massacres, which came to be known as "La Matanza;" this consolidated Martínez's power and marked the beginning of a series of de facto military dictatorships that would rule El Salvador until 1979, when General Humberto Romero of the Party of National Conciliation (PCN) would be overthrown in a reformist coup.

In 1969 a brief war, known as the Football War, took place with Honduras over the eviction of Salvadoran illegal immigrants living in the Honduran countryside, and to a lesser degree over the heated World Cup qualifying series taking place between the two countries.


Following increasing clashes between the FMLN, El Salvadoran Armed Forces (ESAF,) and rightist vigilantes known as death squads, a civil war broke out that would last 12 years (1980-1992) and claim the lives of approximately 75,000 people, most of them at the hands of the ESAF. A ceasefire was established in 1992 when the rebels of the FMLN and the government of President Alfredo Cristiani of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), signed "Peace accords" on January 16, 1992 that assured political and military reforms; death squad activity was virtually eliminated. However, the accords did not expound on social reforms.

El Salvador is known for the many earthquakes that occur within its borders. Its is known popularly as the “Valley of the Hammocks” since colonial times. On January 13, 2001 an earthquake that measured 7.6 on the Richter scale caused a landslide that killed more than 800 people. On February 13, 2001 a second earthquake killed 255 people.

The population density is high. The highest concentration of people is found in the capital, San Salvador.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "El Salvador".