The Port of Acajutla is El Salvador’s main port. On the country’s northwestern Pacific coast, the deep-water Port of Acajutla handles huge volumes of El Salvador’s exports of coffee, sugar, and balsam.
The Port of Acajutla is home to El Salvador’s biggest oil refinery that refines petroleum from Venezuela, a fertilizer plant, and several seafood- and shell-processing plants. Tourists are coming to the Port of Acajutla in increasing numbers to enjoy its beautiful beaches. In 2005, over 26 thousand people called the Port of Acajutla home.
After conquistador Pedro de Alvarado conquered Mexico and Guatemala at the orders of Hernan Cortes, he went to the Port of Acajutla. Despite fierce resistance, de Alvarado conquered the Pipiles indigenous people and all of today’s El Salvador at the Battle of Acajutla. As part of the Kingdom of Guatemala, the Port of Acajutla was an important colonial port for the Spanish Empire.
When El Salvador won its independence in 1838, the nation’s economy relied more and more on the export of coffee. Foreign investors noted the rapid changes taking place with the growth of this cash crop, and they recognized that investing in infrastructure at the Port of Acajutla would make it easier and faster to move the coffee to international markets.
The Port of Acajutla saw an increase in traffic again when the Panama Railway crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1855, creating a convenient way to move goods between the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. New shipping lines appeared to carry goods the length of the Pacific coast, and the Port of Acajutla became a regular port of call for shipments of coffee and sugar to the United States’ East Coast and to Europe. El Salvador’s first railway started operating in 1882, linking inland Sonsonate to Acajutla.
During the 1950s, the government of El Salvador recognized that the country’s economic development called for a new and modern harbor to facilitate the exportation of the country’s products to the world market. In 1952, the Executive Commission of Port of Acajutla was created.
Work on the modernized Port of Acajutla began in 1961 when its new 338-meter wave-breaker was inaugurated and Wharf “A” was opened, meeting with tremendous success. The subsequent increase in business forced the Port of Acajutla to diversify its services and further expand the facilities. In 1965, the Independent Harbor Executive Commission (STOCK) was organized to manage the ports and the national railroad of El Salvador. STOCK was a public institution based in San Salvador, the nation’s capital.
In 1970, STOCK began an expansion of the Port of Acajutla by adding Wharf B, and Wharf C was opened in 1975. During the 12-year-long civil war of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Port of Acajutla oil refinery was a target for the rebels. It was at the time the only oil refinery in El Salvador.
Today’s Port of Acajutla has three modern wharves with eight berths that can accommodate all types of vessels. STOCK is responsible for Port of Acajutla operations, the rest of El Salvador’s ports, the National Railroads of El Salvador, and the International Airport of El Salvador.