San Salvador is the capital and largest city of the nation of El Salvador. The second most populous city in Central America, after Guatemala City, and the metro covers an area of 568 km² (220 sq mi) and is home to nearly 1.6 million people. Home to one-half of El Salvador's wealth, the city's per capita GDP - PPP is approximately USD11,200, compared to a national average of USD5,260 (2002).
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
groups, established their capital, Cuscatlán
. Not very much is known about this city, since it was abandoned by its inhabitants in an effort to avoid Spanish rule.
Under the orders of Pedro de Alvarado, Gonzalo de Alvarado and Diego de Holgiun were ordered to take the settlement they found and to develop it. Diego de Holgiun became the first mayor of San Salvador as the town was founded on April 1, 1525. However, in the sixteenth century, it was rebuilt and changed locations twice afterwards 1528 and 1545. Originally founded in what is now the archaeological site Ciudad Vieja, north of the present-day city, it was moved to the Valle de Las Hamacas or the Acelhuate Valley, named so due to the intense seismic activity that characterizes it, which boasted more space and more fertile land, thanks to the pristine and now extremely polluted Acelhuate River. As the population of the country remained relatively small up until the early twentieth century, the city grew slowly.
The city's altitude averages above sea level located, on a valley on the skirts of the Quezaltepec
volcano or San Salvador. In fact, the valley got its nickname from the Spaniards who called the area"El Valle de las Hamacas"
(The Valley of the Hammocks
) due to its constant seismic activity.
San Salvador is mainly hot, the coldest months being November, December, January, and February. The temperature is very different at midday than midnight, the factors being the humidity levels, which vary as the day passes. The highest reading ever recorded in San Salvador is , the lowest being . The highest dew point is and the lowest . San Salvador has two seasons: rainy and dry. October, November, December, January, February and March being the dry seasons, and April, May, June, July, August and September the rainy.
Approximately 89% of the population is mestizo (mix of Indigenous and European ancestry), 9% is European, and the rest is Indigenous and other small ethnic groups, including Chinese, Jewish and Arabs.
San Salvador was first served by Ilopango International Airport
, but in January 31, 1980, Ilopango was substituted by the bigger Comalapa International Airport
which took all the International flights.
The city offers the widest boulevards in Central America and is served by a railroad that connects to other cities such as Soyapango and Apopa.
The security situation has taken a downturn in San Salvador within the last five years. In 2002 there were 162 intentional homicides in the city of San Salvador. This increased sharply over the next three years to 465, with a slight decrease during 2006 to 456.
remains one of the city's biggest problems. Located in a valley, San Salvador is a perfect pollution trap. Fueling this, the city struggles with an increasing traffic problem. New highways and arterial roads offer some relief. According to a study by the United Nations
, El Salvador was the second worst polluter
of carbon dioxide emissions
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 homes and killed many people. 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).
Gallery of San Salvador