History of El Salvador

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The history of El Salvador has been a history of struggle against conquistadors, empires, dictatorships and world powers to be free. El Salvador was one of the regions that resisted the Spanish invasion led by Pedro de Alvarado who had to fight Atlacatl and retreat several times back to Guatemala. After the independence several Spanish Creole took over the government and economy getting rid of all the land protections and benefits that the indigenous people had which caused some sectors to rise against the government in the 19th century. Anastacio Aquino, king of the Nonoualquenos, led the rebellion against abuse of power and corruption but it was repressed by the government. This repression would have repercusions in the future of El Salvador. La matanza, and all the liberation movements from the 1930s to 1980s would originate from the injustices committed by the Spanish rule, Creoles and other foreign power interventions.


Before the Spanish conquest

Before the Spanish conquest, the area that now is El Salvador was composed of three indigenous states and several principalities. The indigenous inhabitants were the Pipils, a tribe of the nomadic people of Nahua settled down for a long time in central Mexico. The region of the east was populated and governed by the Lencas. The North zone of the Lempa Hi River was populated and governed by the Chortis, a Mayan people.

Early in their culture, the Pipil became one of the few Mesoamerican indigenous groups to abolish human sacrifice. Otherwise, their culture was similar to that of their Aztec and Maya neighbors. Remains of the historical culture are still found at ruins such as Tazumal (near Chalchuapa), San Andrés, and Joya de Cerén (north of Colón).

Spanish conquest and rule

The first Spanish attempt to subjugate this area failed in 1524, when Pedro de Alvarado was forced to retreat by Pipil warriors. In 1525, he returned and succeeded in bringing the district under control of the Audiencia of Mexico. It was Alvarado who named the district for El Salvador ("The Savior") and was appointed its first governor, a position he held until his death in 1541. The area was under the authority of a short-lived Audiencia of Panama from 1538 to 1543, when most of Central America was placed under a new Audiencia of Guatemala. In 1609 the territory of the Audiencia of Guatemala was created into a captaincy general to deal with threats to the area from foreign incursions into the Caribbean. In 1786, the district of El Salvador, which previously had been broken up into many corregimientos, was transformed into an intendancy, as part of the Bourbon Reforms. This change brought economic and political unity to the area, and aided in the development of a sense of Salvadoran nationalism over the next century.

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