November 5 – The Cry for Independence in El Salvador

Posted on November 5, 2014

This sounds a lot like Mexican history:

On this date in 1811, Salvadoran priest Jose Matias Delgado rang the bells of a church to signal the beginning of a revolution – the movement towards independence from Spain.

And El Salvador finally won its independence on September 15, 1821.

(In Mexico, the war of independence against Spain was marked by a priest ringing church bells on September 16, 1810, and ended in September, 1821.)

Where is El Salvador?

El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated nation in Central America. It hugs the Pacific coast. I always think of the Pacific Ocean as being to the west of the Americas (because it is), but because of the curve of Central America, the Pacific actually makes El Salvador's southern border.

When El Salvador was a Spanish colony, its most important crop was the indigo plant (or anil), which was used to make a beautiful blue dye. During the late 1800s and the early 1900s, it became known as the Coffee Republic because coffee was almost all it exported.

San Salvador is the capital and the largest city.

What is special about El Salvador?

Earthquakes. Volcanoes. Destruction.

This is not the happiest thing that could be said about a country, but El Salvador has some pretty gnarly volcanoes. Even though the nation is only about the size of Massachusetts, it has twenty volcanoes, two of which are active. San Salvador was destroyed by earthquakes in 1756 and in 1854, and it was heavily damaged by three quakes in the 1900s! One of the Salvadoran volcanoes, Izalco, erupted so regularly for 150 years that it became known as the “Lighthouse of the Pacific,” because its flares and lava flows were visible from far out at sea.

This Googie-style car wash was
located in San Bernardino,
California. I live between
San Bernardino and Los Angeles.
Because of all that destruction, San Salvador today has few Spanish colonial buildings. Many of the city's most famous buildings are, instead, in the Modernist or Googie style. I read that San Salvador's architecture has been influenced by Los Angeles, California (for some strange reason)!

(I had to look up Googie—what the heck is Googie architecture? It turns out that this Southern California architecture from the 1940s to the 1960s was a sort of futurist architecture that was influenced by car culture, jets, the atomic model, and the Space Age. Think Disneyland's Tomorrowland!)

Okay, here are some other things that make El Salvador special:

  • Surfing is big-time in El Salvador.
    It has one of the highest cell phone densities in the world, with 124 cell phones for every 100 people!
  • Four species of sea turtles call Salvadoran coasts their home.
  • The Salvadoran national soccer team has gone to the World Cup two times, and one of the best soccer players in the history of the world, Magico Gonzales, is Salvadoran.

Also on this date:

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