San Salvador, the capital and largest city of the Central American republic of El Salvador. It lies on a plateau about 2,240 feet (683 m) above sea level, surrounded by low, volcanic mountains. San Salvador is the commercial, industrial, and cultural center of El Salvador. Coffee and other agricultural products are shipped here from the surrounding area for processing and distribution. Manufactured products include processed foods and beverages. The Inter-American Highway (part of the Pan American system), several railways, and an international airport serve the city.
San Salvador is a relatively modern city with several wide avenues and many parks. Most of the prominent public buildings, including the National Palace, the Archbishop's Palace, and the National Theater, are in the center of the city near the main plaza. The National Museum and the National University of El Salvador are in the city.
San Salvador was founded by the Spaniard Pedro de Alvarado in 1525. It soon became the administrative center of El Salvador province. The city grew in importance after the collapse of Spanish rule in 1821 and the formation of the United Provinces of Central America in 1823. From 1831 until 1838 it was the federation's capital. San Salvador has been El Salvador's capital since the republic was proclaimed in 1841. An earthquake virtually destroyed the city in 1854 and another serious one occurred in 1986.