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HISTORY The Olmec Boulder a stone sculpture of a giant head found near Chalchuapa in western El Salvador is evidence of Olmec presence in the region from at least 2000 BC The step-pyramid ruins at Tazumal and San Andres show that the Maya also lived in western El Salvador for over 1000 years Groups that inhabited the eastern part of the country included the Chorti Lenca and Pokomame When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century the country was dominated by the Pipil descendants of Nahuatl-speaking Toltecs and Aztecs both Mexican tribes The Pipil probably came to central El Salvador in the 11th century just after the Maya dynasty collapsed Their culture was similar to that of the Aztecs with heavy Maya influences and a maize-based agricultural economy that supported several cities and a complex culture including hieroglyphic writing astronomy and mathematics Spains claim was staked by the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado who arrived in the area in 1525 The Spanish developed plantations of cotton balsam and indigo Throughout the 1700s agriculture boomed but a group of 14 elite European families maintained control of most of the land which was farmed by enslaved indigenous people or slaves imported from Africa Father Jose Matias Delgado organized a revolt against Spain in 1811 but it was quickly suppressed Napoleons invasion of Spain the following year increased the impetus for reform and El Salvador eventually gained independence in 1821 This did not alter the dynamics of land ownership an issue at the core of an unsuccessful Indian rebellion in 1833 led by Anastasio Aquino In 1841 following the dissolution of the Central American Federation formed between El Salvador Costa Rica Guatemala Honduras and Nicaragua El Salvador became a sovereign independent nation In the second half of the 19th century synthetic dyes undermined the indigo market and coffee took main stage in the economy By the 20th century 95 of El Salvadors
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