Since the first surf explorers in the '60s discovered the great pointbreak potential of El Salvador the country has gone through a tumultuous time. A brutal army-led civil war killed nearly 100,000 people between 1979 and 1991, followed by economic devastation and violent social unrest. Things have improved dramatically, although many Salvadorans are armed, shootouts are common, and the homicide rate (one of the highest in the world) increased 25% from 2004 to 2007. Surfers are returning, often using the services and experience of a local surf operator seems to best enjoy the unreal density of quality pointbreaks and avoid many problems. The western La Libertad area has always been the focus of attention, but the newly discovered Oriente Salvaje (Savage East) now attracts more and more travellers to some epic right points with very few local surfers.