Useful Notes / El Salvador

El Salvador, which is Spanish for The Savior, is a little country squeezed right between Honduras, Guatemala and the Pacific Ocean.

Once upon a time, the land was inhabited by Mayas and other Mesoamerican cultures you don’t hear too much about (like the Pipil and Lenca civilizations). When the Spanish came along, the tribes resisted the conquest a long time, but were eventually dominated by the 1530s.

The land was part of the General Captaincy of Guatemala until the Mexican Independence, when all the countries of Central America lost their status as Spanish dependencies and joined the new Mexican Empire. However, unlike his neighbors, El Salvador didn’t want to join The Empire, so they had to convince them… with military power… just in time for the other countries to decide not to join Mexico but to form their own federation. Oh well.

Since then, El Salvador has been a struggling country plagued with economical problems and military coups; their lands were fertile enough to attract the attention of the United Fruit Company (you know, the one who instigated most of the Banana Republics of the region.)

In 1969, as a result of the political tensions originated by the United Fruit Company’s administration of the zone, El Salvador went to war with Honduras in The Football War, proving that Association Football is indeed a Serious Business (in any case, the football issue was just the trigger, the resentment had been piling up since way before that). The military victory was to El Salvador, who almost reached Tegucigalpa (Hondura's capital), but it was Honduras who won politically annexing the disputed land. The bad management of the war from the government’s part, coupled with all the problems in the country and the lack of support to the expatriates from Honduras led in 1980 to a civil war that only ended in 1992, but the turmoil still lingers today (to the point it’s considered the murder capital), so it was not very recommended to visit the country, though in the recent years, it has become more modernized and safer in the middle-class neighborhoods and shopping centers.

One curious (so to speak) detail about El Salvador is that it’s the only country in the region without an African population. This is because it has no coast on the Atlantic and the fact that a dictator in the 1930s issued race laws prohibiting the entry of Africans, Gypsies, Arabs, Asians and others to the country.

El Salvador is also known for sending troops to Iraq during the War on Terror from 2004 to 2008, being the only Central American country to do so and one of the last forces to leave Iraq after the occupation ended.

DJ Keoki was born in El Salvador. Other people with Salvadoran ancestry include the actress Anita Page and the model Christy Turlington.

In American Media, El Salvador is almost non-existent (have you seen any tropes about its people or culture?) due to many factors not limited to its small size and history of just being another Banana Republic of the region until its eleven-year long civil war (1980 - 1991) led to hundreds of thousands refugees to leave for the United States. Even today, El Salvador is only used to talk about gangs, gang culture and illegal immigration in TV shows and movies with its government being blamed for "allowing" the creation of the MS13 and 18th Street Gangs (In reality those gangs were formed in California but many of their members were deported back by the thousands to a wartorn El Salvador during the nineties and made it their de facto headquarters by the late-2000s).

The Salvadoran flag
The flag's blue and white stripes allude to its past affiliation with the Federal Republic of Central America. At the center is the coat-of-arms, which also recalls the Federal Republic's triangular seal containing five mountains on a sea (symbolizing its five member states), above which is the Phrygian cap of liberty and the rainbow of peace. Behind the seal are five flags (also recalling the Federal Republic), and is surrounded by a garland of fourteen laurel branches, representing the country's Departments: Ahuachapán, Cabañas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlán, La Libertad, La Paz, La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel, San Salvador, San Vicente, Santa Ana, Sonsonate and Usulután.