El Salvador History Timeline

El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Central America with 6,377,195 ( 2015 ) residents living on an area of ​​approx. 21,000 km².

The country borders Honduras and Guatemala and has a 307 km coastline out to the Pacific Ocean. The capital is called San Salvador, and the highest point is Cerro El Pital at 2,730 m. The largest cities by population are: San Salvador, Soyapango, Santa Ana, San Miguel, Mejicanos, Nueva San Salvador, Apopa.

The name El Salvador is Spanish and means ‘Savior’.

According to cheeroutdoor, El Salvador is located in the tropical belt and is also plagued by the many hurricanes that ravage the Caribbean. Known as the land of volcanoes, with frequent and sometimes devastating earthquakes and volcanic activity.

The main port for both import and export is located at the town of Acajutla.

In 2015, El Salvador was named the world’s new capital for murder, with the highest murder rate in the country to date. Killings of 104 people per 100,000 are the highest for any country in nearly 20 years, according to data from the World Bank. All countries south of the U.S. border face the same problem: cartels and gangs fight to control drug and human trafficking to the United States and infiltrate government institutions to help them. Each has used different methods to curb the problem.

Despite its bad reputation, El Salvador offers stunning contrasts, highlighted by a wide range of cone-shaped volcanoes and tranquil mountain lakes. In addition, the country’s Mayan ruins are considered some of the most interesting in all of Central America: Cara Suica, Casa Blanca, Cihuatán, Joya de Cerén, San Andrés and Tazumal.


1500 BCE – El Salvador was inhabited by several Mesoamerican nations, especially the Cuzcatlecs, as well as Lenca and the Maya. The first traces of people in Cuscatlán, as the area was called before the arrival of the Spaniards, date from around 1500 BC, from which Mayan ruins were found.

1522 – The Spanish, led by Pedro de Alvarado (participated in the conquest of Mexico by the Aztecs in 1519, and was called “Tonatiuh” or “Sun God” by the Aztecs), arrived for the first time on a small island off present-day El Salvador. In 1524 they attacked Cuscatlán, but after a long battle they had to retreat to Guatemala. Later, they returned and founded San Salvador the following year.

1528 – The current capital, San Salvador, is founded by Gonzalo de Alvarado.

1540 – El Salvador becomes a Spanish colony. The following year, it became the capital of the country.

1811 – El Salvador fights Spain in the First War of Independence.

1823 – El Salvador, along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, declares independence from Spain under the name United States of America (dissolved 1840).

1854 – An earthquake destroys San Salvador.

1859-1863 – Coffee cultivation introduced by President Gerardo Barrios. In 1910, he was officially awarded the title of ‘national hero’ for his heroic efforts to protect the rights of the agricultural community, as well as his military triumphs, to protect Central America from foreign invasions.

1932 – A major uprising led by Agustin Farabundo Marti, with peasants and Indians and led by the new Communist Party, is brutally crushed and costs somewhere between 10,000 and 40,000 lives. The country’s military killed 4,000 farmers. After this uprising, El Salvador became in practice a military dictatorship until 1979.

1961 – Right-wing National Conciliation Party, comes to power after a military coup. It was the most powerful political party in the country during the 1960s and 1970s, and was closely linked to the Salvadoran military.

1979-1981 – Right-wing death squadrons supported by the military kill over 30,000 people. President Carlos Romero was deposed in a coup on October 15, 1979. Romero’s time in office was marked by increasing violence and instability.

1980 – A Roman Catholic priest and archbishop, Oscar Romero, is assassinated during a massacre in San Salvador Cathedral on March 24, killing at least 30-50 people. He used his position without regard to his own security, to explicitly speak out against the social injustice, poverty, murder and torture that took place in the country. He was beatified on March 23, 2015.

1980-1992 – Opposition to the military dictatorship supported by the country’s few wealthy families and right – wing groups with the infamous death squads. The conflict was armed. The United States pushed through an election and sent military advisers to the country to train the government forces, which were already strongly supported by the United States. The Civil War cost about 75,000 lives.

1981 – A massacre in El Mozote takes place on December 11, when the Salvadoran army kills more than 1,000 civilians during the Civil War.

1982 – The El Calabozo Massacre, in which more than 200 people, including children and the elderly, are killed by the Atlacatl Battalion.

1985 – Four U.S. Marines and nine others are killed on June 19 at the sidewalk restaurant Zona Rosa by guerrilla forces in San Salvador.

1986 – An earthquake strikes San Salvador. The United States provided $ 60 million for relief and reconstruction.

1986 – FILM: The film ” Salvador “, about an American photojournalist being caught in a political battle in El Salvador in 1980, was released in the United States on February 28. It was very difficult for Oliver Stone to find the money to make the film, which had a budget of $ 5 million. The film, which was shot in Mexico and the United States, was nominated for Best Actor ( James Woods ) and Best Screenplay, but did not win. The film’s concluding epilogue: “ To date the murderers of Archbishop Romero have not been found and the same military leaders continue in power. Salvador continues to be one of the largest recipients of US military aid in the world“.

1989 – The Atlacatl Battalion attacks a guerrilla field hospital, killing at least 10 people, including five patients, a doctor and a nurse. Two that the female victims showed signs that they had been raped before they were executed. Nearly two weeks earlier, US Vice President Dan Quale had during a visit told Army commanders that the human rights violations committed by the military had to stop.

1997 – 22 murders a day took place in El Salvador during the year.

1998 – Hurricane ” Mitch ” hits the country, killing more than 30,000 people, causing nearly $ 400 million in damage and killing 240 people.

Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador agreed to build a $ 2 billion rail network connecting Central America and Mexico.

2001 – Violent earthquakes occur on three different occasions, the first on January 13, killing 1,200 people, leaving millions homeless and destroying many more houses and damaging up to 80% of the country’s crops that year with famine. Over 100 small earthquakes hit the country in 24 hours! Today, the cost of reconstruction has now exceeded 3, 5 billion USD.

2002 – US-based Salvadoran Army generals are ordered to compensate victims of civil war atrocities.

2004 – Prisoners in a San Salvador prison fight each other with knives, 31 people dead, 24 wounded.

2005 – Hurricane ” Stan ” devastates Central America on October 1. The Ilamatepec volcano in Cerro Verde National Park erupted the same day, adding to the disaster, in which 72 people were killed and 54,000 fled.

Operation International ” captured 660 dangerous gang members during raids in El Salvador, USA, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

2007 – Three members of the ARENA party – Eduardo D’Aubuisson (son of the founder of ARENA), William Pichinte and José Ramón González, and their driver, Gerardo Ramírez – were found murdered near Guatemala City, Guatemala, on 19 February. Four police officers were arrested and charged with the murder; within three days of their arrest, the four were murdered in a top-security prison cell. Several prosecutors who have investigated the deaths have also been murdered.

2008 – El Salvador has the highest murder rate in the world.

2009 – The ARENA party wins the most seats in local elections.

Floods and landslides left 140 dead, thousands homeless.

2010 – 14 passengers were killed by gang members who set the bus on fire near the capital.

2013 – On December 29, San Miguel erupted, and people within a 3 km radius of the volcano had to evacuate from the site.

El Salvador History Timeline

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