Originally inhabited by Pipil Indians, in the 16th century El Salvador was conquered by the Spanish. It joined the Central American federation upon independence and became a fully independent republic in 1840. Although formally El Salvador has been a democracy for most of its independence, in reality the country's government is highly oligarchic, the 'fourteen families' having dominated the country's political and economic life since independence. In the 1930s general Hernandez Martinez established a dictatorship. A nonviolent revolution overthrew Hernandez in 1944 but the country remained unstable and from 1979-1992 the country lived through another bloody civil war.

Initial government is Despotism.

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