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El Salvador - History

The Pipil Indians, descendants of the Aztecs, and the Pocomames and Lencas were the original inhabitants of El Salvador.

The first Salvadoran territory visited by Spaniards was Meanguera Island, located in the Gulf of Fonseca, where Spanish Admiral Andres Nino led an expedition to Central America and disembarked on May 31, 1522. In June 1524, the Spanish Captain Pedro de Alvarado started a war to conquer Cuscatlan. His cousin Diego de Alvarado established the village of San Salvador in April 1525. In 1546, Charles I of Spain granted San Salvador the title of city.

During the subsequent years, the country evolved under Spanish rule; however, toward the end of 1810 many people began to express discontent. On November 5, 1811, when Priest Jose Matias Delgado rang the bells of La Merced Church in San Salvador calling for insurrection, the people began to band together for freedom.

In 1821, El Salvador and the other Central American provinces declared their independence from Spain. When these provinces were joined with Mexico in early 1822, El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countries. In 1823, the United Provinces of Central America was formed of the five Central American states under Gen. Manuel Jose Arce. When this federation was dissolved in 1838, El Salvador became an independent republic. El Salvador's early history as an independent state--as with others in Central America--was marked by frequent revolutions; not until the period 1900-30 was relative stability achieved.

Following a deterioration in the country's democratic institutions in the 1970s a period of civil war followed from 1980-1992. More than 75,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict.

The end of the Cold War made it possible to overcome the ideological polarization and confrontation over geopolitical factors that the United States and the then Soviet Union had maintained in the Central American region, including El Salvador. The concrete expression of this detente was expressed in a common interest in resolving conflicts via dialogue and cooperation, which in the case of El Salvador was expressed in the initiatives taken by the Security Council of the United Nations, the creation of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL), and the ongoing support and follow-up that this organization provided for the process of peace negotiations. The armed conflict in El Salvador came to an end in a relatively short period of time when contrasted with the twelve years of war that preceded the signing of the Chapultepec accord in January 1992. For some time before then, the more focused observers of the civil war, both within the country and abroad, had become convinced that both the continuation of the fighting as well as a strictly military outcome were impossible or extremely costly in terms of loss of life and material destruction. Therefore, they pressed for a negotiated political solution, even though the warring groups insisted on continuing with the fighting until its final consequences. In January 1992, after prolonged negotiations, the opposing sides signed peace accords which ended the war, brought the military under civilian control, and allowed the former guerillas to form a legitimate political party and participate in elections.

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Page last modified: 06-09-2016 12:26:54 ZULU