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San Salvador

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Diocese. The Republic of Salvador, often incorrectly called San Salvador from the name of its capital, is the smallest and most thickly populated state of Central America. It is bounded on the W. by Guatemala, on the N. and E. by Honduras, on the S. by the Pacific Ocean. It lies between 92° 26' 55" and 89° 57' W. long., and 14° 27' 20" and 13° 2' 22" N. lat., being 50 miles long and 186 miles broad. It is 7225 square miles in area and is divided politically into 14 departments. The population in 1906 was 1,116,253, of whom 772,200 were Ladinos (mixed Spanish and Indian blood), and 224,648 Indians, the latter being principally Pipils, but partly Chontalli. The chief towns are San Salvador (59,540), Santa Anna (48,120), San Miguel (24,768), and Nueva San Salvador (18,770); the chief port is La Union (4000). With the exception of a narrow alluvial seaboard Salvador is a high plateau, intersected by mountains containing many volcanoes, five of which are active. The most remarkable of the latter, Izalco, popularly called the "Lighthouse of Salvador" from its almost continual eruptions (three to each hour), broke out in a small plain on 23 February, 1770, and has now a cone over 6000 feet high. Earthquakes are frequent and San Salvador has often suffered, especially on 16 April, 1854, when the entire city was levelled in ten seconds. Salvador is rich in minerals, gold, silver, copper, mercury, and coal being mined. The chief imports, which in 1909 had a value of $4,176,931 (gold), are machinery, woollens, cottons, drugs, hardware; the chief exports besides minerals are indigo, sugar, coffee, and Peruvian balsam, valued at $16,963,000 (silver).

Railroads connect the capital with Santa Tecla and the port of Acajutla. Education is free and compulsory but very backward. There are about 600 primary schools, with 30,000 enrolled pupils, 20 high schools (3 normal, and 3 technical), and a university at San Salvador with faculties of engineering, law, medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry. The National Library (founded 1867) has 20,000 volumes; a National Museum was established in 1903. Salvador was invaded by Pedro Alvarado in 1524, emancipated from Spain in 1821, and made part of the Federation of Central America in 1824. In 1839 it became free. Its Constitution finally adopted in 1886 provides for a president elected for four years, with a right to nominate four secretaries of State, and a National Assembly of 70 members, 42 of whom are landholders, all elected by universal male suffrage. Catholicism is the state religion, but the civil authorities are hostile and have confiscated the sources of church revenue. San Salvador on the Rio Acelhuate in the valley of Las Hamacas was founded in 1528, but rebuilt in 1539, about twenty miles south of its first site; the diocese, erected on 28 September, 1842, is suffragan of Santiago of Guatemala, and contains 589 churches and chapels, 190 secular and 45 regular clergy, 70 nuns, 89 parishes, 3 colleges for boys and 3 for girls, and a Catholic population of over 1,000,000; the present bishop, who succeeded Mgr. Carcamo, is Mgr. Antonio Adolfo Pérez y Aguilar, born at San Salvador, 20 March, 1839, and appointed on 13 January, 1888.


Salvador: Bulletin of the Bureau of American Republics (Washington, 1892); REYES, Nociones de historia del Salvador (San Salvador, 1886); PECTOR, Notice sur le Salvador (Paris, 1889); GONSÁLEZ, Datos sobre la república de El Salvador (San Salvador, 1901); KEANE, Central America, II (London, 1901), 183-94.

About this page

APA citation. MacErlean, A. (1912). San Salvador. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. MacErlean, Andrew. "San Salvador." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Vivek Gilbert John Fernandez. Dedicated to the Diocese of San Salvador.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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