Spanish Colonial Period and Latin American Independence




The indigo trade led to a system of commercial agriculture and the creation of large estates operated by a few families who also played a leading role in the government.



The Salvadoran families who controlled the indigo trade began to agitate for Central American independence because of economic downturn, a long-held animosity toward Guatemalan merchants who controlled much of the economy, and the desire for El Salvador to have its own archbishop, independent of that of Guatemala.

There were uprisings in El Salvador 1811 and 1814, the endorsement of Guatemala’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1821, a refusal to join Guatemala in being incorporated into the Mexican empire in 1822, confrontations with Guatemalan and Mexican armies, and a failed bid to be annexed to the United States in 1823.

A Central American constitutional convention in Guatemala City was held in 1823, and a Federal Republic of Central America was created in 1824.

From 1827-29, a civil war pitted Central American liberals vs conservatives, ending with the seizure of the federal government by the commander of the liberal army.


The federal capital was transferred to the city of San Salvador.


4 member states left the federation, leaving only the state of San Salvador.



The name “El Salvador” was used for the first time.


Guatemala: Rafael Carrera, conservative dictator serves until his death.


El Salvador: Civil strife, conflicts with neighboring countries, establishment of coffee industry.

Note:  At this point students can begin to construct separate timelines for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.