An Introduction to the Republic of El Salvador

El Salvador (Spanish: República de El Salvador, literally meaning Republic of The Savior) is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country’s capital city and largest city is San Salvador. Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America.

Map of El Salvador

Map of El Salvador

El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean to the west, toughed in between Guatemala to the north and Honduras to the east. Its eastern-most region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca, opposite Nicaragua.

As of 2009, El Salvador had a population of approximately 5,744,113 people, composed predominantly of Mestizos (mixed biracials of Native American/European ancestry) and Whites/Caucasians.

The colón was the official currency of El Salvador from 1892 to 2001, when it adopted the U.S. Dollar. In 2010 El Salvador ranked in the top 10 among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and in the top 3 in Central America, behind Costa Rica and Panama. Because of this, the country is currently undergoing rapid industrialization.

In the early sixteenth century, Spanish conquistadors named this region “Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, El Salvador Del Mundo” (“Province Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Savior Of The World”), which was subsequently abbreviated to “El Salvador”.

El Salvador remained a territory of Spain until 1821, when it joined Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in a union named the Federal Republic of Central America. When this union dissolved in 1841, El Salvador maintained its own government until it joined Honduras and Nicaragua in 1896 to form the Greater Republic of Central America, which later dissolved in 1898.

El Salvador’s origins of human civilization date back to the Pipil people of Cuzcatlán, which means The Place of Precious Diamonds and Jewels. The people of El Salvador are variably referred to as Salvadoran or Salvadorian, while the term Cuzcatleco is commonly used to identify someone of Salvadoran heritage.

Recent Entries

Joya de Cerén — Pompeii of the Americas

Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site

Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site

Joya de Cerén (Jewel of Cerén in the Spanish language) is an archaeological site in La Libertad Department, El Salvador featuring a pre-Columbian Maya farming village preserved remarkably intact under layers of volcanic ash. It is often referred to as the “Pompeii of the Americas” in comparison to the famous Ancient Roman ruins.

A small farming community inhabited as early as 900 BC, Cerén was on the southeast edge of the Maya cultural area. Cerén was evacuated in AD 250 due to the eruption of the Ilopango volcano but was repopulated no earlier than the year 400 and was, at the time of its final evacuation, a tributary to nearby San Andrés.

Around the year 590, Loma Caldera, another nearby volcano, erupted and buried the village under 14 layers of ash. The villagers were apparently able to flee in time — no bodies have been found — although they left behind utensils, ceramics, furniture, and even half-eaten food in their haste to escape.

The site was discovered in 1976 by Payson Sheets, a professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since then the excavation process has continued. About 70 buildings have been uncovered.

Even more important than the buildings, however, are the paleoethnobotanical remains. The low temperature of the wet ash from Loma Caldera, as well as its rapid fall, ensured the preservation of much of the plant material.

Of great importance is the discovery of manioc fields, the first time manioc cultivation had been found at a New World archaeological site. Although the manioc had long since decomposed, researchers created plaster casts by filling the resulting hollows in the ash. The farmers had planted the manioc “just hours” before the eruption.

Cerén was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

  1. Flag of El Salvador