Salem is the county seat of Dent County, Missouri, United States. The population was 4,950 at the 2010 census, which allows Salem to become a Class 3 city in Missouri; however, the city has chosen to remain a Class 4 city under Missouri Revised Statutes. Salem is located a few miles north of the Ozark Scenic Riverways and close to Montauk State Park, which contains the headwaters of the Current River.
The name Salem is derived from the Hebrew word Shalom, meaning "peace".
Dent County was first explored by Dustin Counts and settled between 1818 and 1829. In 1851, the Missouri Assembly created Dent County from portions of Crawford and Shannon counties. It was named for early settler Lewis Dent, who served as the first representative. A log courthouse, built circa 1851–1852, was Dent County's first and was located on the Wingfield farm northeast of Salem. W. P. Williams became the first mayor of Salem in 1860, just after the Missouri State Legislature passed laws regarding the administration of village government. During the American Civil War, Salem was sometimes manned by units of the 5th Missouri State Militia. Village governments were suspended during the Civil War.