I. The smallest but most populous of the five republics of Central America, comprised between lat. 13° and 14° 30' N., and lon. 87° 30' and 90° 20' W., bounded N. and E. by Honduras, S. E. by Fonseca bay, S. by the Pacific, and N. W. by Guatemala; area, according to Squier, 9,600 sq. m., though most recent authorities give it at not more than 7,500 sq. m.; pop. estimated at 600,000, of whom 9,000 are whites, 300,000 Indians, 290,000 mestizoes, and 1,000 negroes. Except the extensive and safe port of La Union, on the W. shore of the bay of Fonseca, the harbors (Acajutla, La Li-bertad, and Jiquilisco) are merely open roadsteads. A narrow tract of low, rich, alluvial land, 20 m. wide, extends along the shore as far as La Libertad; further N. the coast is rising and broken. Several short mountain ranges of moderate height traverse the interior. About 12 to 15 m. from the coast are the volcanoes of Apaneca, 5,826 ft. high; Isalco, which is unceasingly active, 4,060 ft.; San Salvador, 7,376 ft.; San Vicente, 7,500 ft.; San Miguel, 6,680 ft.; Santa Ana, 6,615 ft.; Cojutepeque, 5,700 ft.; Tecapa, 5,200ft.; Usulutan, 4,250 ft.; Chinameca, 4,750 ft.; and Conchagua, 4,800 ft.
The chief river is the Lempa, deep but rapid, about 150 m. long, principally fed by the lake of Guija, near the N. W. boundary of the state. Lake Ilopango, nearly in the centre of the state, is about 9 m. long and 3 m. wide. The soil is generally good, in some parts remarkably rich; but the frequent political dissensions have materially retarded agriculture. Considerable maize is planted; oranges, lemons, pineapples, and plantains are extensively grown; sugar, cacao, coffee, cotton, and tobacco yield bountiful crops. But indigo is by far the most important source of wealth, though the quantity raised has considerably diminished since the era of independence. The Balsam coast, where the balsam of Peru is collected, is W. of Point Libertad; the Indians collect annually about 20,000 lbs. Numerous fine cattle are raised. The hills are crossed by innumerable metallic veins, but the mineral wealth of the country is imperfectly developed, and the rich silver mines are almost entirely neglected; excellent iron ore is obtained near Metapa. The manufactures consist of coarse cotton goods, cutlery, and iron ware. Although warmer than Guatemala, the country is generally healthful, excepting the low tract along the coast.
The republic is divided into the departments of San Miguel, San Vicente, La Paz (capital, Sa-catecoluca), Chalatenango, Cuscatlan (capital, Suchitoto), San Salvador, Sonsonate, and Santa Ana, with capitals of the same names except in the two cases noted. San Salvador is the capital of the republic; and, besides it and the department capitals, there are 140 smaller towns and 62 villages. Fairs have been established by the government in different parts of the state; the principal one is held at San Miguel. The main article sold is indigo. In 1872 the imports amounted to $3,000,000, and the exports to $3,800,000. The public debt in 1869 was $705,800, at 6 per cent. The president, whose term was formerly six years, is now elected every four years. The legislature consists of a senate with 12 members, and a house of representatives with 24 members, all elected for two years, half of the members being replaced by new ones every year. Every male citizen over 21 years old is entitled to vote, except domestic servants and those who are without a legal occupation, contract debts fraudulently, owe money past due to the state, enter the service of a foreign power, or are notoriously of bad character; foreigners may become naturalized after five years' residence.
Ecclesiastics and soldiers in active service are debarred from civil government offices. The president as well as the representatives and senators must possess property of a specified value. Each department governor is elected for two years. The standing army consists of 1,000 men, and the militia of 5,000. Though the Roman Catholic church is recognized by the state, all other denominations are protected in their worship. In education this republic excels the other states of Central America, and has a very well endowed university in the capital. Duties on imports, stamped paper, and the monopolies of tobacco and rum furnish the revenues. - When Pedro de Alvarado, the lieutenant of Cortes, invaded this region in 1524, it had a dense population and large, well built cities. In 1528 the city of San Salvador rose on the site of the ancient Cuscatlan, and under the Spanish rule the province became a flourishing portion of the kingdom of Guatemala. The independence of this part of the Spanish dominion was accomplished in 1821 almost without bloodshed.
The present five republics constituted themselves as the confederated republic of Central America. When a violent effort was made to incorporate it with Mexico (under the emperor Iturbide), San Salvador decreed its annexation to the United States, but the fall of the Mexican empire reestablished the Central American republic (1823), of which the city of San Salvador was made the capital. It became an independent commonwealth in 1839, and in 1856 assumed the title of republic. In all the revolutions of Central America, San Salvador, owing to its geographical position, has been compelled to take an active part. In 1862 a war broke out with Guatemala, which aimed at a supremacy over all Central America; but the troops of the latter state were repulsed, and a peace was effected in February, 1863. A second attempt at invasion by Guatemala in April, 1863, proved unsuccessful in the beginning, but ended with the capture of San Salvador by Carrera, president of Guatemala, in October. Barrios, president of San Salvador, was recalled from Panama in May, 1865, by the revolutionary party; but he was defeated and shot, after a trial by court martial.
Dueńas, provisionally elected in 1863, was reelected for four years in 1865, and continued in office till 1869. Under him the government endeavored to open the country, to construct and improve roads, and to build bridges and wharves. Gonzalez succeeded him as provisional president, and was reelected for four years in 1872, when a treaty of friendship and alliance was made between this republic and Guatemala.
A. City, capital of the republic, on the Asel-huate, in lat. 13° 40' N, lon. 89° 5' W.; pop. about 16,000. It is situated in a delightful valley more than 2,000 ft. above the sea, about 3 m. S. E. of the volcano of San Salvador, famous for its numerous and disastrous eruptions. The streets are regularly laid out, and generally well kept. In the centre is a spacious plaza, on which before the late earthquake stood the cathedral, very large but of little architectural beauty, and three rows of handsome arcades. The other principal public buildings were eight churches, the university, a female seminary, a hospital, and two aqueducts. Fine sugar and indigo plantations abound in the vicinity, and there are numerous hot springs.
The chief industry is agriculture, the once extensive hardware and cotton manufactures having dwindled to comparative insignificance. - San Salvador was founded in 1528 by Jorge de Alvarado. It has frequently suffered from earthquakes, the most disastrous of which were that of April 16, 1854, when the city was almost completely destroyed, and a large number of the inhabitants (then numbering some 30,-000) perished; and that of March 19, 1872, by which most of the public edifices and dwelling houses were thrown down, 50 persons killed, and more than 500 seriously injured. It was, however, resolved to rebuild the city on the same site, for the eighth time since its foundation. A new university and several public schools have been organized of late.