El Salvador (i/ɛl ˈsælvədɔr/; Spanish: [el salβaˈðor], Pipil: Kūskatan), officially the Republic of El Salvador (Spanish: República de El Salvador, literally "Republic of The Savior"), is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. El Salvador's capital and largest city is San Salvador. As of 2013, El Salvador had a population of approximately 6.29 million, making it the most densely populated country in the region. Its population consists largely of Mestizos of European and Indigenous American descent.
Present-day El Salvador was inhabited by numerous sophisticated Mesoamerican nations, predominantly the Cuzcatlecs but also the Lenca and Maya prior to the European exploration and subsequent colonization of the Americas. By 1525, the Spanish Empire had conquered the territory, incorporating it into the Viceroyalty of New Spain ruled by the Viceroy from Mexico City until 1821, when it achieved independence from Spain as part of theFirst Mexican Empire, only to further secede as part of the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823. Upon the republic's dissolution in 1841, El Salvador became sovereign until forming a short-lived union with Hondurasand Nicaragua called the Greater Republic of Central America, which lasted from 1895 to 1898.
From the late 19th to mid 20th century, El Salvador endured chronic political and economic instability characterized by coups, revolts, and a succession of authoritarian rulers. Persistent socioeconomic inequality and civil unrest culminated in the devastating Salvadoran Civil War (1979–1992), which was fought between the military-led government and a coalition of left-wing guerrilla groups. The conflict ended with a negotiated settlement that established a multiparty constitutional republic, which remains in place to this day.
El Salvador's economy was historically dominated by agriculture, beginning with the indigo plant (añil in Spanish), the most important crop during the colonial period, and followed thereafter by coffee, which by the early 20th century accounted for 90 percent of export earnings. El Salvador has since reduced its dependence on coffee and embarked on diversifying the economy by opening up trade and financial links and expanding the manufacturing sector. The colón, the official currency of El Salvador since 1892, was replaced by the U.S. dollar in 2001.
As of 2010, El Salvador ranks 12th among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and fourth in Central America (behind Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize) due in part to ongoing rapid industrialisation, however the country continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, inequality, and crime.
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