SALVADOR, or SAN SALVADOR (RepHblica del Salvador), the smallest but most densely peopled of the republics of Central America, bounded on the N. and E. by Honduras, S. by the Pacific Ocean, and W. by Guatemala. (For map, see CENTRAL AMERICA.) Pop. (1906) 1,116,253; area, about 7225 sq. m. Salvador has a coastline extending for about 160 m. from the mouth of the Rio de la Paz to that of the Goascoran in the Bay of Fonseca (q.v.). Its length from E. to W. is 140 m., and its average breadth about 60 m.
Physical Features. With the exception of a comparatively narrow seaboard of low alluvial plains, the .country consists mainly of a plateau about 2000 ft. above the sea, broken by a large number of volcanic cones. These are geologically of more recent origin than the main chain of the Cordillera which rises farther N. The principal river of the republic is the Rio Lempa, which, rising just beyond the frontier of Guatemala and crossing a corner of Honduras, enters Salvador N. of Citala. After receiving the surplus waters of the Laguna de Guija, it flows E. through a magnificent valley between the plateau and the Cordillera, and then turning S. skirts the base of the volcano of Siguatepeque and reaches the Pacific in 88 40' W. Among its numerous tributaries are the Rio Santa Ana, rising near the city of that name, the Asalguate, which passes the capital San Salvador, the Sumpul, and the Torola, draining the N.E. of Salvador and part of Honduras. The Lempa is for two-thirds of its course navigable by small steamers. The Rio San Miguel drains the country between the bay of Fonseca and the basin of the Lempa. The volcanic mountains do not form a chain but a series of clusters: the Izalco group in the W. including Izalco (formed in 1770), Marcelino, Santa Ana, Naranjos, Aguila, San Juan de Dios, Apaneca, Tamajaso and Lagunita; the San Salvador group, about 30 m. E.; Cojutepeque to the N.E. and the San Vicente group to the E. of the great volcanic lake of Ilopango; the Siguatepeque summits to the N.E. of San Vicente; and the great S.E. or San Miguel group San Miguel, Chinameca, Buenapa, Usulatan, Tecapa, Taburete. Cacaguateque and Sociedad volcanoes in the N.E. belong to the inland Cordillera. Santa Ana (8300 ft.) and San Miguel (7120 ft.) are the loftiest volcanoes in the country.
The neighbourhood of the capital is subject to earthquakes. San Miguel is described as one of the most treacherous burning mountains in America, sometimes several years in complete repose and then all at once bursting out with terrific fury. In 1870-1880 the Lake of Ilopango was the scene of a remarkable series of phenomena. With a length of 55 m. and a breadth of 45, it forms a rough parallelogram with deeply indented sides, and is surrounded in all directions by steep mountains except at the points where the villages of Asino and Apulo occupy little patches of level ground. Between the 31st of December 1879 and the nth of January 1880 the lake rose 4 ft. above its level. The Jiboa, which flows out at the S.E., became, instead of a very shallow stream 20 ft. broad, a raging torrent which soon scooped out for itself in the volcanic rocks a channel 30 to 35 ft. deep. A rapid subsidence of the lake was thus produced, and by the 6th of March the level was 34! ft. below its maximum. Towards the centre of the lake a volcanic centre about 500 ft. in diameter rose 150 ft. above the water, surrounded by a number of small islands.
Climate. The lowlands are generally hot and, on the coast, malarial; but on the tablelands and mountain slopes of the interior the climate is temperate and healthy. There are only two seasons: the wet, which Salvadorians call winter, from May to October; and the dry, or summer, season, from November to April. In July and August there are high winds, followed by torrents of rain and thunderstorms; in September and October the rain, not heavy, is continuous. For an account of the geology, fauna and flora of Salvador, see CENTRAL AMERICA.
Inhabitants. The population in 1887 was stated to be 664,513, (1901) 1,006,848, (1906) 1,116,253. The number of Ladinos (whites and persons of mixed blood) is about 775,000 and of Indians about 230,000. The various elements were, before 1901, estimated as follows, and the proportion still holds good in the main: whites (creoles and foreigners) 10%, half-castes 50%, Indians 40%, and a very small proportion of negroes. The whites of pure blood are very few, a liberal estimate putting the proportion at 2-5%. There is no immigration into the country, and the rapid increase with which the population is credited can be due only to a large surplus of births over deaths. The chief towns, which are described in separate articles, comprise San Salvador the capital (pop. 1905, about 60,000), Santa Ana (48,000), San Miguel (25,000), San Vicente (18,000), Sonsonate (17,000), Nueva San Salvador or Santa Tecla (18,000) and the seaport of La Union (4000). For the ancient Indian civilization of Salvador, see CENTRAL AMERICA: Archaeology, and MEXICO: History.
Agriculture. The only industry extensively carried on is agriculture, but the methods employed are still primitive. The more important products are coffee, sugar, indigo and balsam. The country is rich in medicinal plants. Peruvian balsam (Myrospermum Salvatorense or Myroxylon Pereirae) is an indigenous balm, rare except on the Balsam Coast, as the region about Cape Remedies is named. It is not cultivated in Peru, but owes its name to the fact that, during the early period of Spanish rule, it was forwarded to the Peruvian port of Callao for transhipment to Europe. Rubber is collected; tobacco is grown in small quantities; cocoa, rice, cereals and fruits are cultivated. The government seeks to encourage cotton-growing, and has established in the suburbs of the capital an agricultural college and model farm.
Mining. In the Cordillera, which runs through Salvador, there are veins of various metals gold, silver, copper, mercury and lead being found mostly in the E., and iron in the W. Coal has been discovered at various points in the valley of the Lempa. In the republic there are about 180 mining establishments, about half of them [being in the department of Morazan; they are owned by British, United States and Salvadorian companies. Only gold and silver are worked. The output, chiefly gold, was valued at 250,000 in 1907.
Commerce. The trade of Salvador is almost entirely confined to the import of cotton goods, woollen goods, sacks and machinery, and to the export of coffee and a few other agricultural products. In 1900 the formation of a statistical office was decreed. The average yearly value of the imports for the five years 1904-1908 was 804,000, of the exports 1,250,000. The coffee exported in 1908 was valued at 830,000. The imports, comprising foodstuffs, hardware, drugs, cottons, silk and yarn, come (in order of value) chiefly from Great Britain, the United States, France and Germany; the exports are mostly to the United States and France.
Shipping and Communications. Until 1855 the roads of Salvador were little better than bridle-paths, and fords or ferries were the sole means of crossing the larger rivers. During the next half-century about 2000 m. of highways were built, and the rivers were bridged. The first railway, a narrow-gauge line, between the port of Acajutla and Sonsonate, was opened in 1882, and afterwards extended to Ateos on the E. and Santa Ana on the N.W. A railway from the capital to Niieva San Salvador was also constructed, and in 1900 was linked to the older system by a line from Ateos to San Salvador. In 1903, a concession was granted for an extension from Nueva San Salvador to the port of La Libertad. From 350 to 450 vessels annually entered and cleared at Salvadorian ports (chiefly Acajutla, La Libertad and La Union), during the years 1895 to 1905. The old port of Acajutla has been closed, and a new port opened in a more sheltered position about i m. N., where an iron pier, warehouses and custom-house have been erected. Salvador joined the postal union in 1879.
Currency and Credit. In 1910 there were three commercial banks and an agricultural bank within the republic. In 1897 a law was passed adopting a gold standard. The currency of the country in 1910 consisted entirely of silver pesos, the fractional money under -900 fine having, by arrangement with the government, been all exported by the banks. The peso or dollar at par is valued at four shillings; its actual value was about is. 8d. in 1910. The metric system of weights and measures was adopted by decree of January 1886, but the old Spanish weights and measures still continue in general use.
Finance. The revenue is mainly derived from import and export duties, but considerable sums are also obtained from excise, and smaller amounts from stamps and other sources. The principal branches of expenditure are the public debt, defence and internal administration. The official figures showing the revenue and expenditure for the five years 1904-1908 are as follows (pesos being converted into sterling at the rate of 12 to !):- Years.
1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 675,000 711,000 707,000 728,000 1,064,000 734,000 837,000 i ,024,000 886,000 1,019,000 The foreign debt, amounting to 726,420 (240,000 of a 6% loan of 1889, and 485,720 of another of 1892) was in 1899 converted into 5 % mortgage debentures of the Salvador Railway Company Limited, to which the government has guaranteed, for eighteen years from the 1st of January 1899, a fixed annual subsidy of 24,000. In March 1908 a new foreign loan was raised, amounting to 1,000,000. The bonds were issued at 86, and bore 6% xxrv. t.
interest, secured partly upon the special import duty of $3.60 (American gold) on every kilogramme of imported merchandise, partly upon the export duty of 40 c. (American gold) on every quintal (100 Ib) of coffee up to 500,000 Ib. The 4% internal debt amounted in 1905 to 840,170.
Government. The constitution proclaimed in 1824, and modified in 1859, 1864, 1871, 1872, 1880, 1883 and 1886, vests the legislative power in a chamber of 70 deputies, including 42 landowners (3 for each department), all chosen by the direct vote of the people. The president and vice-president are likewise chosen by direct popular vote, and they hold office for 4 years. The president is not eligible for the presidency or vice-presidency during the following presidential term. He is assisted by 4 ministers. Local government is carried on in each of the 14 departments by governors appointed by the central executive. The municipalities are administered by officers (alcaldes, regidores, etc.) elected by the inhabitants.
Religion and Education. The Roman Catholic religion prevails throughout the republic, but there is complete religious freedom, so far as is compatible with public order. Civil marriage is legal, monastic institutions are prohibited, and education is in the hands of laymen. Primary education is gratuitous and obligatory. For secondary instruction there are about 20 higher schools, including 3 technical institutes, and 2 schools for teachers, one for men and the other for women these five institutions being supported by the government. At San Salvador there is a national college for the higher education of women. Superior and professional instruction is provided at the national university in the capital.
Justice is administered by a supreme court, and in district, circuit and local courts. The active ' army consists of about 3000 men, and the militia, of about 18,000. In time of war all males between the ages of eighteen and sixty are liable for service. The navy consists of one customs cruiser.
History. Salvador received its name from Pedro de Alvarado, who conquered it for Spain in 1525-26. Its independence of the Spanish Crown dates from 1822; (see CENTRAL AMERICA: History). Revolutions have been frequent. In July 1906 war broke out between Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, but was terminated within the month by the arbitration of the United States president (see as above). In 1907 Salvador supported Honduras (q.v.) against Nicaragua; its prosperity was not, however, seriously impaired by the defeat of its ally.
See E. G. Squier, The States of Central America (London, 1868); D. Guzman, Apuntamientos sobre la topografia fisica de la republica del Salvador (San Salvador, 1883) ; D. Gonzalez, Datos sobre la republica de El Salvador (San Salvador, 1961 ) ; No. 58 of the Bulletins of the Bureau of American Republics (Washington, 1892); annual reports of the Council of the Corporation of Foreign Bondholders (London) and of the British Foreign Office.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)