Although El Salvador gained its independence from Spain in 1838, oppressive regimes controlled the nation from that time through the 20th century. In the late 1970s, leftist groups, most notably the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), violently lashed against the ruling government. Fraudulent elections dashed the prospects of a full democracy, and by 1980, the country became mired in a full-scale civil war. El Salvador became the focus of special international attention during this period due to the FMLN's surprising success, which the government was able to suppress. In 1992, after 12 years of fighting, the United Nations was able to broker the Peace Accords and end the war. Subsequently, the FMLN was allowed to participate in democratic elections. However, recent events that include Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and several earthquakes in 2001 have not only hampered economic recovery efforts, but repositioned landmines that remain in the country, furthering the menace's danger.



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