San Salvador

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This article is about the Salvadoran capital city. For other places named "San Salvador", see San Salvador (disambiguation).

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San Salvador from space, January 1997
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The Great Arch of the Emigrant Alliance in San Salvador.

San Salvador (coordinates Template:Coor dm) is the capital of El Salvador.


The origins of the city can be traced to before the Spanish Conquest. It is near the present location of San Salvador that the Pipil tribes, descendants of the Aztecs in Mexico, established their capital, Cuzcatlán. Not very much is known about this city, since it was abandoned by its inhabitants in an effort to avoid Spanish rule.

Although the city was founded in the 16th century, it was rebuilt and changed location twice afterwards. Originally founded in what is now the colonial town of Suchitoto, north of the present-day city, it was moved to the Valle de Las Hamacas (literally Valley of the Hammocks due to the intense seismic activity that characterizes it), which boasted more space and more fertile land, thanks to the pristine Acelhuate River (sadly, it is now extremely polluted). As the population of the country remained relatively small up until the early 20th century, the city grew slowly. It became somewhat of a tourist attraction during the early 20th century as it was considered a beautiful city: with a population of approximately 30,000 it was small, spacious, and clean.

Today, San Salvador is a modern city. The city proper has a population of about half a million, and covers an area of approximately 75 square kilometers. The explosive growth during and after the war created a metropolitan area (the AMSS, Area Metropolitana de San Salvador) that is administered as a whole. The AMSS covers an area of approximately 610 square kilometers and has a population of about 2.1 million.

The Pan-American Highway runs through the city, connecting it with other urban areas in Central America and the United States. San Salvador is also the overall transportation and economic hub of the nation, since it is home to one third of the population and one half of the country's wealth.

The city's modern downtown area has many high-rise buildings, but very few of the historic landmarks remain, due to the earthquakes that have hit the city since its founding in 1525 by Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado. Today, the city produces beer, tobacco products, textiles, and soaps.


San Salvador is a large city whose population is starkly divided between the wealthy and impoverished. The wealthier neighborhoods of Escalón, Ciudad Merliot and San Benito boast luxury shops (some of the largest shopping malls in Central America), five-star hotels, tree lined avenues and beautiful, well-guarded mansions. However, most of the other neighborhoods in Apopa and Soyapango, among others, are hot, dusty and overcrowded, and are plagued by skyrocketing crime rates.

While the city is relatively wealthy compared to the rest of the country (per capita GDP is approximately USD $6000, compared to a national average of approximately $2300), poverty is one of its major problems. Pollution is also a major problem, with San Salvador considered the most polluted city in Central America.


The city has suffered from severe earthquakes over the years, the most disastrous of which occurred in 1854. Also worthy of mentioning is the 1917 eruption of the San Salvador volcano, which resulted in three major earthquakes and damaged the city so extensively that the government was forced to move the capital to the present-day city of Santa Tecla, then named Nueva San Salvador. The most recent Earthquake, in 2001, resulted in considerable damage, especially in Las Colinas suburb where a landslide destroyed most of Las Colinas. During the 1980s, conflicts in El Salvador erupted into a civil war, and many people fled to the city since most of the fighting occurred outside of it (San Salvador itself was not directly affected by the war until the final offensive of 1989).de:San Salvador es:San Salvador fr:San Salvador he:סן סלוודור io:San Salvador nl:San Salvador pl:San Salwador pt:San Salvador fi:San Salvador sv:San Salvador tr:San Salvador


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