El Salvador Old History

By | January 2, 2023

El Salvador is an independent nation in North America. With the capital city of San Salvador, El Salvador 2020 population is estimated at 6,486,216 according to countryaah. Before the Spaniards in the 16th century came to the area that today constitutes El Salvador, it had been populated for thousands of years, including the Mayan people and the Pipils. For nearly 300 years, the area was then part of the Spanish colony of Guatemala. El Salvador became an independent republic in 1840.

Between 500 BC and 900 AD, the Mayan culture dominated the area that today is southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and western El Salvador. With the fall of the Mayan culture, western and central El Salvador was populated by the pipils, who originated from central Mexico. Their culture was not as high as that of the Mayan people. They were primarily a farming people, but they also built a number of cities. In eastern El Salvador lived two other peoples, lenca and cocoa opera.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of El Salvador, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

El Salvador was one of the last parts of Central America conquered by the Spaniards. The colonizers faced fierce resistance from the indigenous peoples and it was only after several attacks that the area was incorporated with the Spanish colony of Guatemala. The Spaniards soon discovered that El Salvador did not have the large silver or gold resources they had hoped for. The main asset of the colony was its land which the Spanish crown seized. The indigenous peoples were forced to work on plantations built for the cultivation of cocoa and the dye indigo. Forced labor, struggles with the Spaniards, and infectious diseases from Europe led to a drastic reduction in the number of indigenous people, but they were still more than the colonizers. For El Salvador political system, please check diseaseslearning.

In connection with Mexico’s declaration of independence from the Spanish crown in 1821, the Central American provinces of the colony of Guatemala followed suit. In 1823, the provinces formed a loose federation according to the North American model, but it dissolved in 1838. Two years later, the Republic of El Salvador was founded.

In the mid-1800s, demand for indigo declined and instead the Salvadoran state invested in growing coffee for export. The demand for coffee increased sharply in the following years and in 1882 private ownership of the land was introduced. Three-quarters of the land was owned by two percent of the population. Both the state and business were dominated by 14 families. Most Salvadorans were referred to seasonal work on the large estates, which caused tension in the countryside. The indigenous peoples’ traditional societies where the land had been used collectively were torn apart and the people lost their cultural identity.



Court requests investigation of massacres

El Salvador is ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) to investigate the massacre in El Mozote, committed during the civil war (see also Decmeber 2011). According to the court, the massacre was not covered by the amnesty adopted after the war.


FMLN appoints presidential candidate

The FMLN formally appoints Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén as its candidate for the February 2014 presidential election.


The US stamps youth gangs as a criminal organization

The US government for the first time stamped a youth gang, Mara Salvatrucha, as an international criminal organization, which means that the authorities can seize the gang’s assets in the United States. According to the US authorities, Mara Salvatrucha, who is governed from El Salvador, is involved in transnational criminal activities such as drug trafficking, kidnappings, human trafficking, sex trafficking and murder.


Arena appoints presidential candidate

Arena nominates Norman Quijano as its candidate in the presidential election in February 2014. Quijano has been a dentist for the profession and mayor of San Salvador since 2009.


Political battle in HD

A political battle around the Supreme Court is escalating when five newly elected judges take their seats despite their choice being annulled by a committee in the court.


Armistice results in fewer murders

The ceasefire between Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 turns out to have effect after 100 days: the number of murders has fallen from 14 to 5 per day. However, data points to an increased number of “disappearances” and speculation exists that the murders are in fact only better hidden by burying the victims.


30 years in prison for gang member

A gang member is sentenced to 30 years in prison for murdering a TV photographer.

HD denies the request for extradition

The Supreme Court rejects a request from Spain to extradite 13 former military officers suspected of the murder of five Spanish Jesuit priests in 1989. The five Spaniards as well as a Salvadoran Jesuit priest were murdered by the military along with a maid and her teenage daughter in the priests’ home at San Francisco University. The massacre also caused great consternation in the outside world. The court denies the extradition request on the ground that extradition was not allowed at the time of the crime.


El Salvador receives prisoners from Guantánamo

El Salvador is the first country in Latin America to receive prisoners held at the US military base Guantánamo in Cuba. These are two Chinese who are ethnic Uyghurs and Muslims, who were arrested by the US military in Afghanistan. They are no longer considered enemies of the United States but cannot be sent back to China.


Arms rest between undead gangs

A “cease-fire” is concluded between two so-called maras (see Social conditions and Political system), Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13) and Barrio 18 (or M18). The cease-fire that is a result of mediation of the Catholic Church.

Arena wins elections and new ceasefire is concluded

The arena becomes by far the largest party when elections are held to Parliament, despite the fact that over a third of its members left the party during the recently concluded term of office. The Conservative opposition party gets 33 out of the 84 seats, against 31 for the ruling party FMLN. Ghana (see January 2010) takes 11 seats and the rest goes to small parties. The election is seen as an important value gauge for President Funes, who has two years left on his term in office. The election also applies to the mayor’s posts in the country’s 262 municipalities.


Appointment of new police chief is criticized

Funes appoints a former general as new police chief. The nomination is criticized by the opposition, which says Funes violates the 1992 peace agreement when he lets a military lead the police.

El Salvador Old History