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The Arms


Armed Forces


Back to Central America




The first Spanish attempt to subjugate this area failed in 1524, when Pedro de Alvarado was forced to retreat by Pipil warriors. In 1525, he returned and succeeded in bringing the district under control of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which retained its authority until 1821, despite an abortive revolution in 1811. It was Alvarado who named the district for El Salvador ("The Savior.")



The first "shout of independence" in El Salvador came in 1811, at the hands of criollo elite. Many intellectuals and merchants had grown tired of the overpowering control that Spain still had in the American colonies, and were interested in expanding their export markets to Britain and the United States. The Indigenous uprisings aimed at Spanish subjugation plagued the territory at this time, and they were re-interpreted by the Republicans to serve their purpose and show popular support for independence. Thus a movement grew amongst the middle class criollo and mestizo classes. Ultimately, the 1811 declaration of independence failed when the vice royalty of Guatemala sent troops to San Salvador in order to crush the movement. However, the momentum was not lost and many of the people involved in the 1811 movement became involved in the 1821 movement.

In 1821, El Salvador and the other Central American provinces declared their independence from Spain. When these provinces were joined with Mexico in early 1822, El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countries. Guatemalan troops sent to enforce the union were driven out of El Salvador in June 1822. El Salvador, fearing incorporation into Mexico, petitioned the United States Government for statehood. But in 1823, a revolution in Mexico ousted Emperor Agustín de Iturbide, and a new Mexican congress voted to allow the Central American provinces to decide their own fate. That year, the United Provinces of Central America was formed of the five Central American states under Gen. Manuel José Arce.

In 1832, Anastasio Aquino (†1833) led an indigenous revolt against creoles and mestizos in Santiago Nonualco, a small town in the province of San Vicente. The source of the discontent of the indigenous people was lack of land to cultivate. The problem of land distribution has been the source of many political conflicts in Salvadoran history.

The Central American federation was dissolved in 1838 and El Salvador became an independent republic in 1841.




The Arms


Early coins of El Salvador as a part of the United Provinces of Central America show one single volcano rising from the waves on the obverse and a pile crested with a cap of liberty on the reverse



After the revolt of Anastasio Aquino coins were struck with the volcano within a crown of palmleaves, crested with a star on the obverse and the pile on the reverse crested with another star.



These coins disappeared when El Salvador became an independent republic in 1838.


The Federación Centroamericana


On 2 April 1851 Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua reunited into one state with the name of Federación de Centro América, with the intention to reestablish regional unity.

The National Diet in Léon (Nicaragua) adopted a coat of arms for the three republics by decree of 22 April 1851.  It was:


Arms: An equilateral triangle with a mountain ridge of three volcanoes symbolizing the three nations united by the Treaty of León of 1848, rising from the sea, with a phrygian cap radiant below a rainbow, and three stars in chief.

Motto: FEDERACION DE CENTROAMERICA in a semicircle above the triangle.


No picture of this emblem is available and it is said that the federation lasted only a few moths.



As a province of the Federation El Salvador used the arms adopted by the Constitutive National Assemby of 21 August 1823. This consisted of a equilateral triangle charged with mountainridge of five volcanoesrising from the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans with a phrygian cap radiant below a rainbow in chief. Surrounding the triangle was the legend: PROVINCIAS UNIDAS DEL CENTRO DE AMERICA. [1]


After the reaffirmation of the independence of El Salvador by legislative decree of the parliamnet of El Salvador of 25 January 1859 El Salvador adopted a new emblem for itself. It appeared on coins struck during the office of president Gerardo Barrios (1860-’65).

The arms are:

Arms: Azure, a pale Argent, charged with and equilateral triangle of six volcanoes rising from the sea and a sun radiant in chief all proper.

Crest: A six-pointed star

Garland: A crown of olive branches and palm leaves.


The shield shows the colors of the flag adopted in 1838.


In the term of office of Francisco Dueñas (1865-’71) a new coat of arms was adopted by decree of 28 April 1865. This achievement was on a disc with a mahogany-coloured rim. It was:



Arms: A smoking volcano rising from the sea an before a rsing sun, all proper and nine five-pointed stars in semicircle Or in chief.

Crest: A phrygian cap n a stake between two cornucopia versing the fruits and flowers of the country.

Supporters: The national flag and the ensign in saltire, the national flag being of nine stripes blue and white and a red  canton charged with 14 white five-pointed stars; the ensign being of nine stripes  bue and white and a red canton charged with the national achievement on a white disc.

Garland: A crown of olive branches tied with a ribbon in the national colors charged on its junction with a quiver with its arrows and a bow in saltire proper.


Between 1895 and 1898 several attempts were made to unite the Central American republics. This resulted in the República Mayor de Centroamérica. (1895-’96), the República de América Central. (1896-’98) and the Estados Unidos de Centroamérica (1898).


The República de América Central (officially the República Mayor de América Central), was the last attempt to unite El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua into one single state. This state existed from 1896 as a result of the Treaty of Amapala of 1895 and lasted until 21 November 1898 when it was called Estados Unidos de Centroamérica.

The arms of the Republic consisted of an equilateral triangle charged with a mountainridge of five volcanoes washed by the sea and a phtygian cap radiant below a rainbow in chief. The arms were asurrounded by the legend REPUBLICA MAYOR DE CENTROAMERICA, for each country completed by its name.

One centavo stamp of 1897

Showing the arms of El Salvadorof


The present achievement of El Salvador was adopted. on 15 September 1912. It is:


Arms: An equilateral triangle charged with a maountainridge of five volcanoes washed by the oceans and a stake crested with a phrygian cap radiant below the motto 15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1821 in a semicircle and a rainbow in chief all proper.

Supporters: Five national flags being of three stripes blue, white and blue in saltire.

Motto: DIOS UNION LIBERTAD (God, Unity and Livberty).

Garland: A crown of branches of laurel tied with ribbon in the national colors, proper.



In the achievement:

  • The triangle symbolizes the equality for the law and its angles the three authorities of the government: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary authority.
  • The mountainridge symbolizes the five nations of Central America.
  • The seas are the Atlantic and Pacifific Oceans which wash the central american coasts.
  • The rainbow is the symbol of peace.
  • The phrygian cap proclaims liberty and the rays the ideals of the salvadorean people
  • The date is the date of the political emancipation of El Salvador and refers to the membership of one nation: Central America
  • The motto represent ou belief in a Supreme Lord, the harmony which has to reign in teh Salvadorean families and the priciple of independence of thought, speech and action.
  • The five flags represewnt the five nations of Central America.
  • The crown of laurel symbolizes the glory of the conquest of all aspects of human activity.
  • The 14 leaves of the branches of laurel symbolize the Salvadorean districts.


The decree adopting the achievement reads:





Que por Decreto Legislativo de 17 de mayo de 1912, se estableció el escudo de armas y el pabellón nacional, que el Ministerio de la Guerra por medio de su Oficialía Mayor sacó a concurso el diseño del escudo de armas y aprobó uno de los diseños presentados;

Que aún cuando en éste conservan los blasones esenciales del escudo de armas, se le adornó con otras insignias que no están determinadas por el Decreto Legislativo citado, siendo con dichas insignias que se ha venido usando;

Que de consiguiente es necesario dar fuerza de Ley al uso que del escudo se hace; que además es necesario reglamentar de una manera oficial el uso del escudo de armas y del pabellón nacional, por lo que debe tomarse en consideración el respeto a tales insignias y las diferentes formas y circunstancias en que se usa;




En uso de las facultades que le confiere el inciso 16ª del Art. 68 de la Constitución Política,




Art. 1º.- Al Artículo primero de la ley de 17 de mayo citada publicada en el “Diario Citado” del 30 del mismo mes, se le agrega…”Saliendo del triángulo habrán cinco pabellones de El Salvador, dos a cada uno de los lados del triángulo y uno sobre el vértice del mismo. Bajo la leyenda “DIOS, UNIÓN, LIBERTAD” llevará dos ramos de laurel entrelazadas, en forma circular hasta terminar en las dos banderas superiores.

Art. 2º.- Al artículo segundo se le agrega “Podrá usarse en los muebles o vehículos (carrozas, automóviles, embarcaciones, etc.) de propiedad nacional, y en el papel de correspondencia de los Supremos Poderes del Estado.

El escudo de armas también podrá ser usado en la República por cualquier persona o institución; pero únicamente con ocasión o duelo nacionales o cuando expresamente se hubiere concedido autorización por el Supremo Poder Ejecutivo.

En estos últimos casos el escudo de armas no tendrá las leyendas “REPÚBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMÉRICA CENTRAL” ni “DIOS, UNIÓN, LIBERTAD” y los pabellones que salgan del triángulo podrán ser separados o adheridos al mismo o se usará el escudo sin ellos. Tampoco llevará las ramas de laurel”.

Art. 3º.- Al artículo tercero se le agrega “con todos sus blasones”.

Art. 4º.- Al artículo cuarto donde dice “en la cual irá dibujado irá dibujado el escudo antes descrito”, se le agrega “con todos sus blasones”.

Art. 5º.- En el artículo quinto la parte que describe las banderas y estandartes, queda así: “sus fajas serán siempre horizontales; en la del centro llevará el triángulo del escudo de armas, con todos sus blasones interiores en la superior las palabras “DIOS, UNIÓN, LIBERTAD”, y en la inferior, la clase y número de cada cuerpo.” Sigue el artículo sin modificación.

Art. 6º.- Las oficinas de los Supremos Poderes y de cualesquiera institución oficial o municipal pueden usar del Pabellón Nacional, sin escudo, pero llevando las palabras “DIOS, UNIÓN, LIBERTAD” de este mismo pabellón podrán usar las instituciones particulares, previas autorización del Supremo Poder Ejecutivo, quien también podrá autorizar a éstas como a las instituciones oficiales o municipales para que las usen, un lema oficial en el pabellón.

Art. 7º.- Toda persona o institución queda facultada para usar en el territorio de la República, o los salvadoreños fuera de éste, los colores nacionales en gallardetes, pabellones u otras formas; pero en este caso los pabellones no podrán llevar ninguno de los blasones del escudo de armas o lemas de ninguna clase; sin perjuicios de lo expuesto en los artículos anteriores. Este uso queda limitado a los días de fiestas o duelos nacionales y a todos aquellos en que se celebre un acontecimiento de importancia general o local.

Art. 8º.- Todos aquellos que usaren u ordenaren el uso del escudo de armas o del pabellón nacional de otra manera o en otra forma de la que se prescribe por la ley, serán castigados gubernativamente con una multa de cincuenta pesos por cada infracción.

Art. 9º.- El Supremo Poder Ejecutivo reglamentará los casos y condiciones en que se pueda autorizar a los particulares o instituciones especiales para usar el escudo de armas o lemas especiales en el pabellón.

Art. 10º.- Se declara legal el sello usado anteriormente adornado con los aditamentos que hasta hoy prescribe esta reforma.

Art. 11º.- Esta ley entrará en vigor el día de su publicación.

Dado en el Salón de Sesiones del Poder Legislativo. Palacio Nacional: San Salvador, veinte de mayo de mil novecientos dieciseis.

J. M. Batres,


Lucilo Villalta

2º Pro Secretario

José P. Morales

Srio. Int.

Palacio Nacional: San Salvador, 24 de marzo de 1916.

Los Cónsules salvadoreños mandarán hacer y colocar sobre la puerta exterior de la oficina o en punto donde los transeúntes puedan verlo fácilmente.

Ejecútese. C. Meléndez.

l Ministro de la Guerra Enrique Córdoba.




The presidential flag of El Salvador is the ensign consisting of three stripes blue, white and blue with the national achievement in the middel of the white stripe.

The presidential sash is also blue, white and blue with the national achievement reaching over the three stripes.


The seal of the presidency shows the national achievement, its surrounding legend omitted,  surrounded by a blue bordure with the legend PRESIDENCIA DE LA REPUBLICA  /  EL SALVADOR in golden lettering.



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© Hubert de Vries 2013-11-01


[1] Espinoza, F.: Los Simbolos Patrios de El Salvador. San Salvador, 1955.

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