The indigenous peoples were exploited and mistreated.Independence from Spain (1821) was sought by criollos who were inspired by the American and French revolutions.Other large cities include San Miguel in the east and Santa Ana in the west. In 1999 the population was estimated to be 5,839,079, making El Salvador one of the most densely populated countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Some remnants of the Pipil language remain in everyday Salvadoran Spanish. The flag consists of two blue horizontal stripes with a white stripe in the middle.In the center is a coat of arms inscribed "1821," the year of independence.The economy is still controlled by a wealthy landowning caste (1 percent of the population still owns 40 percent of the arable land).The civil war in the 1980s led to a huge population upheaval, with up to 40 percent of the population relocating and close to 20 percent leaving the country.Salvadorans in the United States often have plaques that contain the flag, as a symbol of national pride.
Since independence, the blue in the flag has symbolized support for the ruling oligarchy, while the red has symbolized support for communism or resistance.
Legal and illegal emigration has continued at a high rate since the end of the civil war in 1992. Almost all residents speak Spanish, which was brought in by the conquistadors.
Before the Spanish conquest, the area was inhabited by the Pipil Indians.
Conservative political parties use blue in their banners; a liberal party, the Farabunda Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), uses red and centralist parties use blue or green.
During the civil war, both sides sang the national hymn. Before the Spanish conquest, the area that is now El Salvador was made up of two large Indian states and several principalities. Spain's first attempt to conquer the area failed as the Pipil forced Spanish troops to retreat.
Very few Salvadorans now speak the indigenous language, which virtually disappeared after 1932, when General Maximilio Hernández Martínez suppressed rural resistance by massacring 30,000 mostly Indian rural peasants.