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Republic of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Flag Coat of Arms
Motto: "Unity, Freedom, Justice"
Anthem: High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free
(and largest city)
8°31′N 13°15′W / 8.517°N 13.25°W / 8.517; -13.25
Official languages English
National language Krio (de facto) spoken by 95% of the population [2][3]
Demonym Sierra Leonean
Government Constitutional republic
- President Ernest Bai Koroma (APC)
- Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana (APC)
- Speaker of Parliament Abel Nathaniel Bankole Stronge (APC)
- Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh
- from the United Kingdom April 27, 1961
- Republic declared April 19, 1971
- Total 71,740 km2 (119th)
27,699 sq mi
- Water (%) 1.1
- estimate 6,440,053 [4] (2009 estimate)
- Density 79.4/km2 (114th1)
205.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
- Total $4.268 billion[1]
- Per capita $725[1]
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
- Total $1.953 billion[1]
- Per capita $331[1]
Gini (2003) 62.9 (high)
HDI (2007) 0.336 (low) (177th)
Currency Leone (SLL)
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .sl
Calling code 232
1 Rank based on 2007 figures.
Sierra Leone ([sieɪrə liˈoːn]), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea in the northeast, Liberia in the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) [2] and has a population estimated at 6.4 million. Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic nation comprising three provinces and the Western Area, the provinces and the Western Area are further divided into fourteen districts. The country has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests.[3]
Freetown is the capital, largest city and economic center.[2] Bo is the second largest city. Other major cities in the country with a population over 100,000 are Kenema, Koidu Town and Makeni. The country is home to Fourah Bay College, the oldest university in West Africa, established in 1827. The Njala University in the country's second largest city of Bo is the other major university in the country. Sierra Leone claims to be home to the third largest natural harbour in the world, the Queen Elizabeth II Quay (also known as the QE II Quay and locally as the Deep Water Quay or Government Warf)[4][5], though a quay is by definition neither a harbour nor natural.
Sierra Leone is very rich in minerals and has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. The country is among the top 10 diamond producing nations in the world. Mineral exports remain the main foreign currency earner. Sierra Leone is a major producer of gem-quality diamonds, although the country has historically had difficulty regulating the sector and the illegal diamond trade. Sierra Leone has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile.
English is the official language of Sierra Leone[6] spoken at schools, government administration and by the media. The Krio language (a language derived from English and several African languages and native to the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the national language of Sierra Leone and is the most widely spoken language in virtually all parts of the country. The Krio language is spoken by at least 95% of Sierra Leone's population and unites all the different ethnic groups, especially in their trade and interaction with each other.
Unlike most African nations, Sierra Leone has no serious ethnic or religious divisions. People often married across tribal and religious boundaries. Sierra Leone is officially home to fifteen ethnic groups, each with its own language and costume; the two largest and most dominant are the Mende and Temne, each comprises 30% of the population. The Mende are predominantly found in South-eastern Sierra Leone and the Temne likewise in Northern Sierra Leone. The two ethnic groups are major rivals, particularly in politics.

Early inhabitants of Sierra Leone included the Sherbro, Temne and Limba, and Tyra [disambiguation needed] peoples, and later the Mende,[7] who knew the country as Romarong, and the Kono who settled in the East of the country.[8] In 1462, it was visited by the Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra, who gave it its name Serra de Leão, meaning 'Lion Mountains'.[9][10]
Sierra Leone became an important centre of the transatlantic trade in slaves until 1792 when Freetown was founded by the Sierra Leone Company as a home for formerly enslaved African Americans.[11] In 1808, Freetown became a British Crown Colony, and in 1896, the interior of the country became a British Protectorate;[8] in 1961, the two combined and gained independence.
Over two decades of government neglect of the interior followed by the spilling over of the Liberian conflict into its borders eventually led to the Sierra Leone Civil War,[12] which began in 1991 and was resolved in 2000 after the United Nations led by Nigeria defeated the rebel forces and restored the civilian government elected in 1998 to Freetown.
Since then, almost 72,500 former combatants have been disarmed[13] and the country has reestablished a functioning democracy.[14] The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up in 2002 to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 1996.[15]
Sierra Leone is the second lowest ranked country on the Human Development Index and seventh lowest on the Human Poverty Index, suffering from endemic corruption[16] and suppression of the press.[17]



[edit] History

[edit] Early History

Fragments of prehistoric pottery from Kamabai Rock Shelter
Archaeological finds show that Sierra Leone has been inhabited continuously for at least 2,500 years,[18] populated by successive movements from other parts of Africa.[19] The use of iron was introduced to Sierra Leone by the 9th century, and by AD 1000 agriculture was being practiced by coastal tribes.[20] Sierra Leone's dense tropical rainforest largely protected it from the influence of any precolonial African empires[21] and from further Islamic colonization, which were unable to penetrate through it until the 18th century.[22]
European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. In 1462, Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra mapped the hills surrounding what is now Freetown Harbour, naming shaped formation Serra de Leão (Portuguese for Lion Mountains).[10] The Italian rendering of this geographic formation is Sierra Leone, which became the country's name.
Soon after Portuguese traders arrived at the harbour and by 1495 a fort that acted as a trading post had been built.[23] The Portuguese were joined by the Dutch and French; all of them using Sierra Leone as a trading point for slaves.[24] In 1562 the English joined the trade in human beings when Sir John Hawkins enslaved 300 people 'by the sword and partly by other means'.[25]

[edit] Enslavement and Freedom

An 1835 illustration of liberated Africans arriving in Sierra Leone.
In 1787, a plan was established to settle some of London's "Black Poor" in Sierra Leone in what was called the "Province of Freedom". A number of "Black Poor" arrived off the coast of Sierra Leone on May 15, 1787, accompanied by some English tradesmen. This was organized by the St. George's Bay Company, composed of British philanthropists who preferred it as a solution to continuing to financially support them in London. Many of the "Black poor" were African Americans, who had been promised their freedom for joining the British Army during the American Revolution, but also included other African and Asian inhabitants of London.
Disease and hostility from the indigenous people nearly eliminated the first group of colonists. Through intervention by Thomas Peters, the Sierra Leone Company was established to relocate another group of formerly enslaved Africans, this time nearly 1,200 Black Nova Scotians, most of whom had escaped enslavement in the United States. Given the most barren land in Nova Scotia, many had died from the harsh winters there. They established a settlement at Freetown in 1792 led by Peters. It was joined by other groups of freed Africans and became the first African-American haven for formerly enslaved Africans.

The colony of Freetown in 1856.
Though the English abolitionist Granville Sharp originally planned Sierra Leone as a utopian community, the directors of the Sierra Leone Company refused to allow the settlers to take freehold of the land. Knowing how Highland Clearances benefited Scottish landlords but not tenants, the settlers revolted in 1799. The revolt was only put down by the arrival of over 500 Jamaican Maroons, who also arrived via Nova Scotia.
Thousands of formerly enslaved Africans were returned to or liberated in Freetown. Most chose to remain in Sierra Leone. These returned Africans were from many areas of Africa, but principally the west coast. They joined the previous settlers and together became known as Creole or Krio people.
Cut off from their homes and traditions, they assimilated some aspects of British styles of inhabitants and built a flourishing trade of flowers and beads on the West African coast. The lingua franca of the colony was Krio, a creole language rooted in 18th century African American English, which quickly spread across the region as a common language of trade and Christian mission. In the 1790s, blacks voted for the first time in elections, as did women.[26]

[edit] Colonial era

Bai Bureh, leader of the 1898 rebellion against British rule
In the early 20th century, Freetown served as the residence of the British governor who also ruled the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and the Gambia settlements. Sierra Leone also served as the educational centre of British West Africa. Fourah Bay College, established in 1827, rapidly became a magnet for English-speaking Africans on the West Coast. For more than a century, it was the only European-style university in western Sub-Saharan Africa.
During Sierra Leone's colonial history, indigenous people mounted several unsuccessful revolts against British rule and Krio domination. The most notable was the Hut Tax war of 1898. Its first leader was Bai Bureh, a Temne chief who refused to recognize the British-imposed tax on "huts" (dwellings). The tax was generally regarded by the native chiefs as an attack on their sovereignty. After the British issued a warrant to arrest Bai Bureh alleging that he had refused to pay taxes, he brought fighters from several Temne villages under his command, and from Limba, Loko, Soso, Kissi, and Mandinka villages.
Bureh's fighters had the advantage over the vastly more powerful British for several months of the war. Hundreds of British troops and hundreds of Bureh's fighters were killed.[27] Bai Bureh was finally captured on November 11, 1898 and sent into exile in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), while 96 of his comrades were hanged by the British.
The defeat of the natives in the Hut Tax war ended large scale organised resistance to colonialism; however resistance continued throughout the colonial period in the form of intermittent rioting and chaotic labour disturbances. Riots in 1955 and 1956 involved "many tens of thousands" of natives in the protectorate.[28]
One notable event in 1935 was the granting of a monopoly on mineral mining to the Sierra Leone Selection Trust run by De Beers, which was scheduled to last 98 years.

[edit] An independent nation

APC political rally in Kabala, Koinadugu District outside the home of supporters of the rival SLPP.
The 1924 Sierra Leone constitution was replaced in November 1951 by a new one which united the formerly separate Colonial and Protectorate legislatures and — most importantly — provided a framework for decolonization. In 1951 Sir Milton Margai, an ethnic Mende and the leading politician from the Protectorate oversaw the drafting of a new constitution which triggered the process of decolonization.[29] In 1953 Sierra Leone was granted local ministerial powers and Margai was made Chief Minister.[29] The new constitution ensured Sierra Leone a parliamentary system within the Commonwealth of Nations and was formally adopted in 1958.[29]
Margai led the Sierra Leone delegation at the constitutional conferences that were held with British Colonial Secretary Iain Macleod in London in 1960.[30] On April 27, 1961, Milton Margai led Sierra Leone to independence from the United Kingdom.[29] Thousands of Sierra Leoneans throughout the nation took to the street to celebrate their Independence. The nation held its first general elections on May 27, 1962 and Margai was elected Sierra Leone's first Prime Minister by a landslide.[29] Milton Margai's political party, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), won by large margins in the nation's first general election under universal adult suffrage in May 1962.
Upon Margai's death on April 28, 1964, his brother, Sir Albert Margai who was Sierra Leone Minister of Finance under Milton's government was chosen by Parliament to be the country's next prime minister. Sir Albert was sworn in as Sierra Leone's second Prime Minister the same day his brother died at a ceremony held at the state house in Freetown.
Sir Albert was highly criticized during his three-year rule as prime minister. He was accused of corruption and of favouritism toward his own Mende ethnic group. He also tried to establish a one-party state but met fierce resistance from the opposition All People's Congress (APC) and ultimately abandoned the idea. During Albert Margai's administration, The Mende increased their influence both in the civil service and the army. Most of the top military and government positions were held by Mendes, and Mende country (the South-Eastern part of Sierra Leone) received preferential treatment.
In closely contested general elections in March 1967, Sierra Leone Governor General Henry Josiah Lightfoot Boston declared the new prime minister to be Siaka Stevens, candidate of the All People's Congress (APC) and Mayor of Freetown. Stevens was sworn in as Sierra Leone's third Prime Minister on May 17, 1967 in Freetown. Hours after taking office, Stevens was ousted in a bloodless coup led by the commander of the The Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Brigadier David Lansana, an ethnic Mende and a prominent supporter of Albert Margai who had appointed him in 1964 as the commander of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. Brigadier Lansana insisted that the determination of office should await the election of the tribal representatives to the House of Representative.
Stevens was placed under house arrest and martial law was declared. But a group of senior military officers overrode this action by seizing control of the government on March 23, 1968, arresting Lansana and suspending the constitution. The group constituted itself as the National Reformation Council (NRC) with Brigadier Andrew Juxon-Smith as its chairman. Brigadier Juxon-Smith was a member of the minority Krio ethnic group who reside mostly in Freetown. In April 1968, the NRC was overthrown by a group of military officers who called themselves the Anti-Corruption Revolutionary Movement (ACRM), led by Brigadier General John Amadu Bangura, an ethnic Limba. The ACRM imprisoned senior NRC members, restored the constitution and reinstated Stevens as Prime Minister. After the return to civilian rule, by-elections were held (beginning in autumn 1968) and an all-APC cabinet was appointed. Calm was not completely restored. In November 1968, Stevens declared a state of emergency after disturbance in the provinces.
Stevens had campaigned on a platform of socialist principles. However, when he became Prime Minister he abandoned his pre-election promises and employed an authoritarian model of governance.[31] Many senior officers in the Sierra Leone military were greatly disappointed but none could confront Stevens. Brigadier General Bangura who had reinstated Stevens as Prime Minister was widely considered the only person who could put the brakes on Stevens. Bangura was a magnetic and popular figure among Sierra Leoneans. The army was devoted to him and this made him potentially dangerous to Steven's new agenda in the shifting political climate of Sierra Leone. In January 1970, Bangura was arrested and charged with conspiracy and plotting to commit a coup against the Stevens government. He was convicted and sentenced to death by execution. On March 29, 1970, Stevens had Bangura hanged at the Kissy Road in central Freetown.
In March 1971 the government survived an unsuccessful military coup. The coup leaders were executed, including several senior officers in the army and some senior government officials.
On April 19, 1971, parliament declared Sierra Leone a Republic. Siaka Stevens' title was changed from Prime Minister to President. Guinean troops requested by Stevens to support his government were in the country from 1971 to 1973. The opposition SLPP boycotted the 1973 general election, alleging widespread intimidation and proceedural obstruction. .
In 1973 president Stevens and president William Tolbert of Liberia signed a treaty forming the Mano River Union to facilitate trade between Sierra Leone and Liberia – with Guinea joining in 1980 under president Sekou Toure. In 1975 Sierra Leone joint the Economic Community of West African States (commonly known as ECOWAS) and in 1980 the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was hosted in Freetown.
An alleged plot to overthrow president Stevens failed in 1974 and its leaders were executed. In March 1976, Stevens was elected without opposition for a second five-year term as president. On July 19, 1975, 14 senior army and government officials including Brigadier David Lansana, former cabinet minister Mohamed Sorie Forna, Brigadier Ibrahim Bash Taqi, Lieutenant and Habib Lansana Kamara were executed after being convicted for allegedly attempting a coup to topple president Stevens' government.
In early 1977 a major anti-government demonstration by students occurred in the country against the APC one-party rule and deteriorating economic conditions. But the demonstration was put down by the police and the army.
In the national parliamentary election of May 1977, the APC won 74 seats and the main opposition, the SLPP, won 15. The SLPP condemned the election, alleged widespread vote-rigging and voter intimidation. In 1978, parliament approved a new constitution making the country a one-party state. The 1978 referendum made the APC the only legal political party in Sierra Leone.
Under the APC regimes headed by Stevens, the Limba, Stevens' own ethnic group, enjoyed strong influence in the government and civil service. During the 1970s, another major ethnic group, the Temne joined the Mende in opposition to the APC government. But after Stevens appointed a Temne, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma as vice-president in 1978, the Temne appeared to have emerged as the second most influential group in the government, after the Limba.
Stevens is generally criticised for dictatorial methods and government corruption, but, on a positive note, he reduced the ethnic polarisation in government by incorporating members of various groups into his all-dominating APC.
Siaka Stevens retired in November, 1985 after being in power for 18 years, but continued to be chairman of the APC. The APC named a new presidential candidate to succeed Stevens. He was Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh, the commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, and Stevens' own choice to succeed him. Like Stevens, Momoh was also a member of the minority Limba ethnic group. Joseph Saidu Momoh was elected President in a one-party referendum as the only contesting candidate. Momoh was sworn in as Sierra Leone's second president on November 28, 1985 at an inauguration ceremony held at the State House in Freetown. A one party parliamentary elections between APC members were held in May, 1986.
President Momoh strong links with the army and his verbal attacks on corruption earned him much needed initial support among Sierra Leoneans. With the lack of new faces in the new APC cabinet under president Momoh and the return of many of the old faces from Stevens government, criticisms soon arose that Momoh was simply perpetuating the rule of Stevens. The next couple of years under the Momoh administration were characterised by corruption, which Momoh defused by sacking several senior army officials and cabinet ministers. To formalise his war against corruption, President Momoh announced a Code of Conduct for Political Leaders and Public Servants"
After an alleged attempt to overthrow President Momoh in March 1987, more than 60 senior government officials were arrested, including Vice-President Francis Minah, who was removed from office, convicted for plotting the coup, and executed by hanging in 1989 along with 5 others.

[edit] Multi-party constitution and Revolutionary United Front rebellion

In October 1990, president Momoh set up a constitutional review commission to review the 1978 one-party constitution. Based on the commission recommendations a constitution re-establishing a multi-party system was approved by Parliament by a 60% majority vote, becoming effective on October 1, 1991. By November 1991, political oppostion became active once again in Sierra Leone. But there was great suspicion that Momoh was not serious, and APC rule was increasingly marked by abuses of power.
Civil war broke out, mainly due to government corruption and mismanagement of diamond resources. Besides the internal ripeness, the brutal civil war going on in neighboring Liberia played an undeniable role in the outbreak of fighting in Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor—then leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia—reportedly helped form the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under the command of former Sierra Leonean army corporal Foday Saybana Sankoh, an ethnic Temne from Tonkolili District in Northern Sierra Leone. Sankoh was a British trained former army corporal who had also undergone guerrilla training in Libya. Taylor’s aim was for the RUF to attack the bases of Nigerian dominated peacekeeping troops in Freetown who were opposed to his rebel movement in Liberia.
The RUF, led by Sankoh and backed by Taylor, launched its first attack in villages in Kailahun District in eastern Sierra Leone from Liberia on March 23, 1991. The government of Sierra Leone, overwhelmed by a crumbling economy and corruption, was unable to put up significant resistance. Within a month of entering Sierra Leone from Liberia, the RUF controlled much of the Eastern Province, including the diamond areas of Kailahun and Kono District. Forced recruitment of child soldiers was also an early feature of the rebel strategy.
On April 29, 1992, a group of six young soldiers in the Sierra Leonean army, apparently frustrated by the government's failure to deal with the rebels and a revolt over salary pay launched a military coup which sent president Momoh into exile in Guinea [5]. The young solders were Colonel Tom Nyuma, Sergon Solomon A.J. Musa, Captain Samuel Komba Kambo,Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio, Colonel Yahya Kanu, Lieutenant Colonel Komba Mondeh and were led by 25-year-old captain Valentine Strasser, who belonged to the Krio ethnic group. The soldiers established the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) with Yahya Kanu as its chairman. But Kanu was assassinated by fellow NPRC members, who accused him of trying to negotiate with the toppled APC administration. On May 4, 1992, 25-year-old Valentine Strasser took over as chairman of the NPRC and Head of State of Sierra Leone. S.A.J. Musa, one of the leaders of the coup and a close friend of Strasser, took over as Vice-Chairman of the NPRC. Many Sierra Leoneans nationwide rushed into the streets to celebrate the NPRC's takeover from the 23-year dictatorial APC regime, which they perceived as corrupt. The NPRC junta immediately suspended the 1991 Constitution, declared a state of emergency, banned all political parties, limited freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and enacted a rule-by-decree policy. The NPRC Junters maintained relations with ECOWAS and support for ECOMOG troops in Sierra Leone which was fighting in Liberia. The army and police officers were granted unlimited powers of administrative detention without charge or trial, and challenges against such detentions in court were precluded.
In December 1992 a coup attempt led by Sgt. Lamin Bangura to toppled the NPRC administration lead by Strasser was foiled and it led to the execution of seventeen soldiers in the Sierra Leone Army, including Sgt. Bangura. By mid 1993 captain Strasser announced a plan to hand over the government to civilian rule by 1996. James Jonah was appointed by the NPRC Junta as the chairman of the new Interim Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission, in charge of the demarcation of electoral boundaries and voters registration. In 1994 the NPRC junters proposed a change in the age restriction in the Sierra Leonean constitution which stated only Sierra Leoneans over the age of 40 are eligible for the presidency, thus excluding Strasser and others in the NPRC.
The NPRC proved to be nearly as ineffectual as the Momoh-led APC government in repelling the RUF. More and more of the country fell to RUF fighters, and by 1995 they held much of the diamond-rich Eastern Province and were at the edge of Freetown. In response, the NPRC hired several hundred mercenaries from the private firm Executive Outcomes. Within a month they had driven RUF fighters back to enclaves along Sierra Leone’s borders. During this time corruption had erupted within senior NPRC members. On July 5, Strasser dismissed his childhood friend Musa as deputy chairman of the NPRC and appointed Julius Maada Bio to succeed him. Some senior NPRC members, including Bio, Nyuma and Mondeh, were unhappy with Strasser's handling of the peace process.
In January 1996, after nearly four years in power, Strasser was ousted in a coup by fellow NPRC members led by his deputy Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio, an ethnic Mende from Bonthe District. Bio claimed that Strasser was attempting to amend the age restriction aspect of the constitution in order to perpetrate his hold on power. Bio reinstated the Constitution and called for general elections. In the second round of presidential elections in early 1996, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, and ethnic Mandingo and the candidate of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), won 59% of the vote, over John Karefa-Smart, an ethnic Sherbro and the candidate of the United National People's Party (UNPP) who won 41%. Bio fulfilled promises of a return to civilian rule, and handed power to Kabbah. President Tejan Kabbah's SLPP party also won a majority of the seats in Parliament.
In 1996, Major General Johnny Paul Koroma who hail from the Limba ethnic group from Kono District was allegedly involved in an attempt to overthrow the government of president Kabbah. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned at Freetown's Pademba Road Prison. But some top-rank Army officers were unhappy with this decision, and on May 25, 1997, a group of soldiers who called themselves the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) overthrew Kabbah. The AFRC released Koroma from prison and installed him as their chairman of the NPRC and Head of State of the country, with Foday Sankoh as the Vice-Chairman. Koroma suspended the constitution, banned demonstrations, shut down all private radio stations in the country and invited the RUF to join his government. The Kamajors, a group of traditional fighters mostly from the Mende ethnic group under the command of deputy Defense Minister Samuel Hinga Norman remained loyal to President Kabbah. The Kamajors defended the Bo, the country's second largest city from the Junter and continue their attack against the AFRC and RUF in south-eastern Sierra Leone
After 10 months in office, the junta was ousted by the Nigeria-led ECOMOG forces, and the democratically elected government of president Kabbah was reinstated in March 1998. Hundreds of civilians who had been accused of helping the AFRC government were illegally detained. Courts-martial were held for soldiers accused of assisting the AFRC government. Twenty-four of these were found guilty and were executed without appeal in October 1998. On January 6, 1999, AFRC made another unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government, causing many deaths and much destruction of property in and around Freetown.
In October, the United Nations agreed to send peacekeepers to help restore order and disarm the rebels. The first of the 6,000-member force began arriving in December, and the UN Security Council voted in February 2000 to increase the force to 11,000, and later to 13,000. But in May, when nearly all Nigerian forces had left and UN forces were trying to disarm the RUF in eastern Sierra Leone, Sankoh's forces clashed with the UN troops, and some 500 peacekeepers were taken hostage as the peace accord effectively collapsed. The hostage crisis resulted in more fighting between the RUF and the government.
Between 1991 and 2001, about 50,000 people were killed in Sierra Leone's civil war. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes, and many became refugees in Guinea and Liberia. In 2001, UN forces moved into rebel-held areas and began to disarm rebel soldiers. By January 2002, the war was declared over. In May, Kabbah was reelected president. By 2004, the disarmament process was complete. Also in 2004, a UN-backed war crimes court began holding trials of senior leaders from both sides of the war. In December 2005, UN peacekeeping forces pulled out of Sierra Leone.
In August 2007, Sierra Leone held presidential and parliamentary elections. However, no presidential candidate won a majority of votes. A runoff election was held in September 2007, and Ernest Bai Koroma, the candidate of the APC and an ethnic Temne from the north was elected president.
There is an increase in the number of drug cartels, many from Colombia, who are starting to use Sierra Leone as a base to ship drugs on to Europe.[26] It is feared that this may lead to increased corruption and violence and may turn the country, like neighboring Guinea-Bissau, into a narco state.

[edit] Geography and climate

Satellite image of Sierra Leone, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library

The road from Kenema to Kailahun District.
Sierra Leone is located on the west coast of Africa, between the 7th and 10th parallels north of the equator. Sierra Leone is bordered by Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.[32]
The country has a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi), divided into a land area of 71,620 km2 (27,653 sq mi) and water of 120 km2 (46 sq mi).[14] The country has four distinct geographical regions. In eastern Sierra Leone the plateau is interspersed with high mountains, where Mount Bintumani reaches 1,948 m (6,391 ft), the highest point in the country. The upper part of the drainage basin of the Moa River is located in the south of this region.
The centre of the country is a region of lowland plains, containing forests, bush and farmland,[32] that occupies about 43% of Sierra Leone's land area. The northern section of this has been categorised by the World Wildlife Fund as part of the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic ecoregion, while the south is rain-forested plains and farmland. In the west Sierra Leone has some 400 km (249 mi) of Atlantic coastline, giving it both bountiful marine resources and attractive tourist potential. The coast has areas of low-lying Guinean mangroves swamp. The national capital Freetown sits on a coastal peninsula, situated next to the Sierra Leone Harbor, the world's third largest natural harbour.
The climate is tropical, with two seasons determining the agricultural cycle: the rainy season from May to November, and a dry season from December to May, which includes harmattan, when cool, dry winds blow in off the Sahara Desert and the night-time temperature can be as low as 16 °C (60.8 °F). The average temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F) and varies from around 26 °C (78.8 °F) to 36 °C (96.8 °F) during the year.[33][34]

[edit] Environment

Logging, mining, slash and burn, and deforestation for land conversion - such as cattle grazing - have dramatically diminished forested land in Sierra Leone since the 1980s. Correspondingly the habitat for the African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus, has been decreased, such that this canid is deemed to have been extirpated in Sierra Leone.[35]
Until 2002, Sierra Leone lacked a forest management system due to a brutal civil war that caused tens of thousands of deaths. Deforestation rates have increased 7.3% since the end of the civil war. On paper, 55 protected areas covered 4.5% of Sierra Leone as of 2003. The country has 2,090 known species of higher plants, 147 mammals, 626 birds, 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and 99 fish species.[citation needed]
The Environmental Justice Foundation has documented how the number of illegal fishing vessels in Sierra Leone's waters has multiplied in recent years. The amount of illegal fishing has significantly depleted fish stocks, depriving local fishing communities of an important resource for survival. The situation is particularly serious as fishing provides the only source of income for many communities in a country still recovering from over a decade of civil war.[36]
In June 2005, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Bird Life International agreed to support a conservation-sustainable development project in the Gola Forest in southeastern Sierra Leone,[37] an important surviving fragment of rainforest in Sierra Leone.

[edit] Government and politics

Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. The current system of government in Sierra Leone, established under the 1991 Constitution, is modeled on the following structure of government: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.[38]
Within the confines of the 1991 Constitution, supreme legislative powers are vested in Parliament, which is the law making body of the nation. Supreme executive authority rests in the president and members of his cabinet and judicial power with the judiciary of which the Chief Justice is head.

Ernest Bai Koroma, current president of Sierra Leone
The president is the head of state, the head of government and the commander-in-chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the Sierra Leone Police. The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers, which must be approved by the Parliament. The president is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two five-year terms. The president is the highest and most influential position within the government of Sierra Leone.
To be elected president of Sierra Leone, a candidate must gain at least 55% of the vote. If no candidate gets 55%, there is to be a second-round runoff between the top two candidates.
The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was sworn in on September 17, 2007, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off election over the incumbent Vice president, Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP).[39]
Next to the president is the Vice president, who is the second-highest ranking government official in the executive branch of the Sierra Leone Government. As designated by the Sierra Leone Constitution, the vice president is to become the new president of Sierra Leone upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president by parliament and to assume the Presidency temporarily while the president is abroad, or otherwise temporarily unable to fulfill his or her duties. The vice president is elected jointly with the president as his or her running mate. Sierra Leone's current vice president is Samuel Sam-Sumana, sworn in on September 17, 2007.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone is unicameral, with 124 seats. Each of the country's fourteen districts is represented in parliament. 112 members are elected concurrently with the presidential elections; the other 12 seats are filled by paramount chiefs from each of the country's 12 administrative districts.
The current parliament in the August 2007 Parliamentary elections is made up of three political parties with the following representations; the All People's Congress (APC) 59 seats, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) 43 seats, and the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) 10 seats. The most recent parliamentary elections were held on August 11, 2007. The All People's Congress (APC), won 59 of 112 parliamentary seats; the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) won 43; and the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) won 10. To be qualified as Member of Parliament, the person must be a citizen of Sierra Leone, must be at least 21 years old, must be able to speak, read and write the English language with a degree of proficiency to enable him to actively take part in proceedings in Parliament; and must not have any criminal conviction.[38]

The Sierra Leone Supreme Court in the capital Freetown, the highest and most powerful court in the country
Since independence in 1961, Sierra Leone's politics has been dominated by two major political parties, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), and the ruling All People's Congress (APC), although other minor political parties have also existed but with no significant supports.
The judicial power of Sierra Leone is vested in the judiciary, headed by the Chief Justice and comprising the Sierra Leone Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country and its ruling therefore cannot be appealed; High Court of Justice; the Court of Appeal; the magistrate courts; and traditional courts in rural villages. The president appoints and parliament approves Justices for the three courts. The Judiciary have jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters throughout the country. The current Sierra Leone's Chief Justice is Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh, who was appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma and took office on January 25, 2008 upon his confirmation by parliament. She is the first woman in the history of Sierra Leone to hold such position.[40]

[edit] Foreign relations

The Sierra Leone Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Zainab Hawa Bangura is responsible for foreign policy of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has diplomatic relations that include China, Libya, Iran, and Cuba. Sierra Leone has good relations with the West, including the United States and has maintained historical ties with the United Kingdom and other former British colonies through membership of the Commonwealth of Nations.[41]
Former President Siaka Stevens' government had sought closer relations with other West African countries under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a policy continued by the current. Sierra Leone, along with Liberia and Guinea form the Mano River Union (MRU) primarily designed to implement development projects and promote regional economic integration between the three countries.[42]
Sierra Leone is also a member of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the African Union, the African Development Bank (AFDB), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).[43] Sierra Leone is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US military (as covered under Article 98).

[edit] Provinces and districts

The 14 districts of Sierra Leone.
The Republic of Sierra Leone is composed of three provinces: the Northern Province, Southern Province and the Eastern Province and one other region called the Western Area. The provinces are further divided into 12 districts, and the districts are further divided into chiefdoms, except for the Western Area.
District Capital Area km2 Province Population (2004 census)[44] Population (2008 estimates)
Bombali District Makeni 7,985 Northern Province 408,390 424,100[45]
Koinadugu District Kabala 12,121 265,758
Port Loko District Port Loko 5,719 455,746 483,752[46]
Tonkolili District Magburaka 7,003 347,197 370,425[47]
Kambia District Kambia 3,108 270,462 299,725[48]
Kenema District Kenema 6,053 Eastern Province 497,948 522,656[49]
Kono District Koidu Town 5,641 335,401
Kailahun District Kailahun 3,859 358,190 389,253[50]
Bo District Bo 5,473.6[51] Southern Province 463,668 527,131[52]
Bonthe District Mattru Jong 3,468 129,947 137,155 [6]
Pujehun District Gandorhun 4,105 228,392 262,073[53]
Moyamba District Moyamba 6,902 260,910
Western Area Urban District Freetown 3,568 Western Area 1,272,873 1,473,873
Western Area Rural District Freetown 4,175 174,249 205,400

[edit] Major cities

Freetown (population 1,070,200[54]) The capital, largest city and economic center of Sierra Leone.

Bo (pop 269,000) Sierra Leone's second largest city and the leading economic and cultural center of Sierra Leone, after Freetown.

Kenema (population 164,125 [1]) Sierra Leone's third largest city and a major diamond trade center.

Koidu Town (population 111,800) Sierra Leone's fourth largest city and a major center for diamond trade. The city is located in Kono District, the richest diamond producing District in Sierra Leone

Makeni (population 105,900[55]) Sierra Leone's fifth largest city and the largest city and economic center of Northern Sierra Leone.
City 2004 census[44] Current population estimate
Freetown 772,873 1,070,200[54]
Bo 149,957 206,769[56]
Kenema 128,402 164,125 [7].
Koidu Town 80,025 111,800[55]
Makeni 82,840 105,900[55]
  • The populations quoted above for the five largest cities are estimates from the sources cited. Different sources give different estimates. Some claim that Magburaka should be included in the above list, but one source estimates the population at only 14,915,[57] whilst another puts it as high as 85,313.[58]

[edit] Economy

Diamond miners in Kono District.
Sierra Leone is slowly emerging from a protracted civil war and is showing signs of a successful transition. Investor and consumer confidence continue to rise, adding impetus to the country’s economic recovery. There is greater freedom of movement and the successful re-habitation and resettlement of residential areas.
Rich in minerals, Sierra Leone has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. The country is among the top 10 diamond producing nations in the world. Mineral exports remain the main foreign currency earner. Sierra Leone is a major producer of gem-quality diamonds. Though rich in diamonds, it has historically struggled to manage their exploitation and export.
Annual production of Sierra Leone's diamond estimates range between $250–300 million U.S dollar. Some of that is smuggled, where it is possibly used for money laundering or financing illicit activities. Formal exports have dramatically improved since the civil war with efforts to improve the management of them having some success. In October 2000, a UN-approved certification system for exporting diamonds from the country was put in place and led to a dramatic increase in legal exports. In 2001, the government created a mining community development fund, which returns a portion of diamond export taxes to diamond mining communities. The fund was created to raise local communities' stake in the legal diamond trade
Sierra Leone is perhaps best known for its blood diamonds that were mined and sold for high prices during the civil war.[citation needed] In the 1970s and early 1980s, economic growth rate slowed because of a decline in the mining sector and increasing corruption among government officials.
By the 1990s economic activity was declining and economic infrastructure had become seriously degraded. Over the next decade much of the formal economy was destroyed in the country’s civil war. Since the end of hostilities in January 2002, massive infusions of outside assistance have helped Sierra Leone begin to recover. Much of the recovery will depend on the success of the government's efforts to limit corruption by officials, which many feel was the chief cause for the civil war. A key indicator of success will be the effectiveness of government management of its diamond sector.
Sierra Leone has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile, a titanium ore used as paint pigment and welding rod coatings. Sierra Rutile Limited, owned by a consortium of United States and European investors, began commercial mining operations near the city of Bonthe, in the Southern Province, in early 1979. It was then the largest non-petroleum US investment in West Africa. The export of 88,000 tons realized $75 million in export earnings in 1990. In 1990, the company and the government made a new agreement on the terms of the company's concession in Sierra Leone. Rutile and bauxite mining operations were suspended when rebels invaded the mining sites in 1995, but exports resumed in 2005.
About two-thirds of the population engages in subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 52.5% of national income. The government is trying to increase food and cash crop production and upgrade small farmer skills. The government works with several foreign donors to operate integrated rural development and agricultural projects.
Despite its successes and development, the Sierra Leone economy still faces significant challenges. There is high unemployment, particularly among the youth and ex-combatants. Authorities have been slow to implement reforms in the civil service, and the pace of the privatisation programme is also slacking and donors have urged its advancement.

[edit] Currency

Sierra Leone’s currency is the Leone. The central bank of the country is the Bank of Sierra Leone which is located in the capital, Freetown.
Sierra Leone operates a floating exchange rate system, and foreign currencies can be exchanged at any of the commercial banks, recognised foreign exchange bureaux and most hotels.
Credit card use is limited in Sierra Leone, though they may be used at some hotels and restaurants. There are a few internationally linked automated teller machines that accept Visa cards in Freetown operated by ProCredit Bank.

[edit] Religion

the central mosque in Makeni.
Religions in Sierra Leone

Indigenous religions

Sierra Leone is a predominantly Muslim nation. Followers of Islam are estimated to comprise 65% of Sierra Leone's population. Muslim predominate in all of the country's three provinces and plus the Western Area. those of Christianity 30%, and those of African indigenous religion, 5%. [8][9].
The Sierra Leone constitution provides freedom of religion and the government generally protects this right and does not tolerate its abuse. Unlike many other African countries, the religious diversity of Sierra Leone has seldom led to conflict.

[edit] Demographics

Two young Sierra Leonean girls at a market in Kenema, the country's third largest city.
The 2009 UN estimate of Sierra Leone's population is 6.4m. Freetown, with an estimated population of 1,070,200, is the capital, largest city and the hub of the economy, commercial, educational and cultural centre of the country. Bo is the second city with an estimated population of 269,000. Other cities with an estimated population over 100,000 are Kenema, Koidu Town and Makeni.
Unlike most African nations, Sierra Leone has no serious ethnic divisions and no serious religious divisions. People often married across tribal and religious boundaries.
Although English is the official language[6] spoken at schools, government administration and by the media, Krio (language derived from English and several African languages and native to the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the most widely spoken language in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone. The Krio language is spoken by 95% [10] of the country's population and unites all the different ethnic groups, especially in their trade and interaction with each other.[59]
According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Sierra Leone had a population of 8,700 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2007. Nearly 20,000 Liberian refugees voluntarily returned to Liberia over the course of 2007. Of the refugees remaining in Sierra Leone, nearly all were Liberian.[60]
The life expectancy of Sierra Leone is 41 years.[61]

A Mende woman in the village of Jojoima in Kailahun District.

[edit] Ethnic groups

Sierra Leonean children in Koindu, Kailahun District playing next to a school damaged during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
The Sierra Leone government officially recognizes sixteen ethnic groups,[62] each with its own language and custom. The two largest and most dominant are the Mende and Temne, each comprises 30% of the population[63] about 1,888,000 members each). The Mende predominate in the South-Eastern Provinces; the Temne likewise predominate in the Northern Province and the Western Area. Sierra Leone's national politics centers on the competition between the north, dominated by the Temne and the south-east dominated by the Mende.
The Limba are the third largest ethnic group at 8.5% of the country's total population and are one of the earliest inhabitant of Sierra Leone. The Limba are primarily found in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, particularly in Bombali District.
The fouth largest ethnic group are the Mandingo (they are the descendants of the Mandinka traders from Guinea who immigrated to Sierra Leone between 1840 to about 1898), they make up 7.8% of the population and they are primarily found in the North and in Eastern Sierra Leone. The Mandinka are primarily muslim at over 99% and Islam dominates the religious and cultural practices.
The Kono make up 7% of the country's population and they are primarily found in in Kono District in Eastern Sierra Leone, where they form the largest ethnic group. The Kono are primarily diamond miners.

The Krio (descendants of freed West Indians slaves from the West Indies and freed African American slaves from the United States which landed in Freetown between 1787 and about 1885) are primarily found in the capital city of Freetown and its surrounding Western Area. Creole culture is unlike that of all other ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, and it is typical of Western culture and ideals.
The Fula (descendants of 17th- and 18th-century Fulani settlers from the Fouta Djalon region of Guinea ) live primarily in the north and the Western Area of Sierra Leone. The Fula are primarily traders and like their Mandingo and Susu neighbohood, the Fula are primarily muslim at over 99% and Islam dominates the religious and cultural practices. Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh, current Chief Justice of Sierra Leone is an ethnic Fula
Much smaller ethnic groups are the Kuranko in the north; the Loko in the north, with the Susu and Yalunka in the far north in Kambia District around the border with Guinea. The Kissi and the much smaller group of Vai are further inland in Kailahun District in the East next to the border with Liberia. On the coast in Bonthe District in the south are the Sherbro . The Sierra Leonean-Lebanese (descendants of Lebanese settlers who settled in Sierra Leone during the late 19th century) make up nearly 1% of the population and they are predominantly found in the Western Area and in the diamond region in south-eastern Sierra Leone.
In the past, Sierra Leoneans were noted for their educational achievements, trading activity, entrepreneurial skills, and arts and crafts work, particularly wood carving. Many are part of larger ethnic networks extending into several countries, which link West African states in the area. But the level of education and infrastructure has declined sharply over the last 30 years.[64]
List of Sierra Leoneans

[edit] Education

Second grade class in Koidu Town.
Education in Sierra Leone is legally required for all children for six years at primary level (Class P1-P6) and three years in junior secondary education,[65] but a shortage of schools and teachers has made implementation impossible.[66] Two thirds of the adult population of the country are illiterate.[67] The Sierra Leone Civil War resulted in the destruction of 1,270 primary schools and in 2001 67 percent of all school-age children were out of school.[66] The situation has improved considerably since then with primary school enrollment doubling between 2001 and 2005 and the reconstruction of many schools since the end of the war.[68] Students at primary schools are usually 6 to 12 years old, and in secondary schools 13 to 18. Primary education is free and compulsory in government-sponsored public schools.
The country has three universities, the University of Sierra Leone, founded as Fourah Bay College in 1827 (the oldest university in West Africa)[citation needed], and Njala University, primarily located in Bo District, which was established as the Njala Agricultural Experimental Station in 1910 and became a university in 2005.[69] Teacher training colleges and religious seminaries are found in many parts of the country.

[edit] Health

The Kailahun Government Hospital at its reopening in 2004. It is the main hospital that serves Kailahun District.
Healthcare is provided by the government, among others. All medical care is generally charged for in Sierra Leone[70] The country has a very high infant mortality and a very low life expectancy. The country suffers from epidemic outbreaks of diseases including yellow fever, cholera, lassa fever and meningitis.[71] The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the population is 1.6 percent, higher than the world average of 1 percent but lower than the average of 6.1 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.[72]

[edit] Military

The Military of Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), are the unified armed forces of Sierra Leone responsible for the territorial security of Sierra Leone's border and defending the national interests of Sierra Leone within the framework of its international obligations. The armed forces were formed after independence in 1961, on the basis of elements of the former British Royal West African Frontier Force present in the country. The Sierra Leone Armed Forces currently consist of around 15,500 personnel, comprising the largest Sierra Leone Army,[73] the Sierra Leone Navy and the Sierra Leone Air Wing [74]. The president of Sierra Leone is the Commander in Chief of the military, with the Military of Defence responsible for defense policy and the formulation of the armed forces. Th current Sierra Leone Defense Minister is Ret. Major Alfred Paolo Conteh. The Military of Sierra Leone also has a Chief of the Defence Staff who is a uniformed military official responsible for the administration and the operational control of the Sierra Leone military [75]. Brigadier General Alfred Nelson-Williams who was appointed by president Koroma succeeded the retired Major General Edward Sam M’boma on 12 September 2008 as the Chief of Defense Staff of the Military.[76]
Before Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961 the military was known as the Royal Sierra Leone Military Force. The military seized control in 1968, bringing the National Reformation Council into power. On 19 April 1971, when Sierra Leone became a republic, the Royal Sierra Leone Military Forces were renamed the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Force (RSLMF).[77] The RSLMF remained a single service organization until 1979, when the Sierra Leone Navy was established. It then remained largely unchanged for 16 years until in 1995 when Defence Headquarters was established and the Sierra Leone Air Wing formed. This gave the need for the RSLMF to be renamed the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone (AFRSL). The civil war in Sierra Leone is reducing the military so there for the defense is being weakend.

[edit] Law enforcement

Law enforcement in Sierra Leone is primarily the responsibility of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP). Sierra Leone Police was established by the British colony back in 1894 and is one of the oldest police forces in West Africa. The key mission of the Sierra Leone Police include to prevent crime, to protect life and property, To detect and prosecute offenders, To maintain public order, To ensure safety and security, To enhance access to justice. The Sierra Leone Police is headed by the Inspector General of Police, the professional head of the Sierra Leone Police force and is appointed by the President of Sierra Leone. Each one of Sierra Leone's 14 districts is headed by a District Police commissioner who is the professional head of their respective district. The Districts Police Commissioners report directly to the Inspector General of Police at the Sierra Leone Police headquarters in Freetown. The current Inspector General of Police is Brima Acha Kamara who was appointed to the position by former president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

[edit] Media

Radio listener in Kailahun
Media in Sierra Leone began with the introduction of the first printing press in Africa at the start of the nineteenth century. A strong journalistic tradition developed with the creation of a number of newspapers. In the 1860s, the country became a journalist hub for Africa, with professionals travelling to the country from across the continent. At the end of the nineteenth century, the industry went into decline, and when radio was introduced in the 1930s, it became the primary communication media in the country. The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) was created by the government in 1934 making it the earliest English language radio broadcaster service in West Africa. The service began broadcasting television in 1963, with coverage extended to all the districts in the country in 1978.
Print media is not widely read in Sierra Leone, especially outside Freetown, partially due to the low levels of literacy in the country.[78] In 2007 there were 15 daily newspapers in the country, as well as those published weekly.[79] Among newspaper readership, young people are likely to read newspapers weekly and older people daily. The majority of newspapers are privately-run and are often critical of the government. The standard of print journalism tends to be low due to lack of training, and people trust the information published in newspapers less than that found on the radio.[78]

Isata Mahoi shown editing radio programmes in Talking Drum studio Freetown, she is also an actress in Sierra Leone radio soap opera Atunda Ayenda
Radio is the most-popular and most-trusted media in Sierra Leone, with 85% of people having access to a radio and 72% of people in the country listening to the radio daily.[78] These levels do vary between areas of the country, with the Western Area having the highest levels and Kailahun the lowest. Stations mainly consist of local commercial stations with a limited broadcast range, combined with a few stations with national coverage. The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) runs one of the most popular stations in the country, broadcasting programs in a range of languages. Content includes news of UN activities and human rights information, as well as music and news. The UN missions will withdraw in 2008 and the UN Radio's future is uncertain. There is also a government station run by the SLBS that transmits on FM and short-wave. FM relays of BBC World Service, Radio France Internationale and Voice of America are also broadcast.
Outside the capital Freetown television is not watched by a great many people. There are two national, free terrestrial television stations in Sierra Leone, one run by the government SLBS and the other a private station, ABC Television-Africa (ABC). In 2007, a pay-per-view service was also introduced by GTV as part of a pan-African television service in addition to the nine year old sub-saharan Digital satellite television service (DStv) originating from Multichoice Africa in South Africa. Internet access in Sierra Leone has been sparse but is on the increase, especially since the introduction of wireless services across the country. There are nine Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating in the country. Freetown has a city wide wireless network and Internet cafes and other businesses offering internet access. Problems experienced with access to the Internet include an intermittent electricity supply and a slow connection speed in the country outside Freetown.
The Sierra Leone constitution guarantees freedom of speech, and freedom of the press; however, the government maintains strong control of media, and at times restricts these rights in practice. Some subjects are seen as taboo by society and members of the political elite; imprisonment and violence have been used by the political establishment against journalists.[80][81] Under legislation enacted in 1980, all newspapers must register with the Ministry of Information and pay sizable registration fees. The Criminal Libel Law, including Seditious Libel Law of 1965, is used to control what is published in the media.[82] In 2006, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah committed to reforming the laws governing the press and media to create a freer system for journalists to work in,[82] but in 2007, Sierra Leone was ranked as having the 121st least-free press in the world, with the press less-free, in comparison to other countries, than in 2006.[83]

[edit] Music of Sierra Leone

see also:Palm-wine music, Gumbe, Afropop

[edit] Transportation

There are a number of systems of transport in Sierra Leone, which has a road, air and water infrastructure, including a network of highways and several airports.

[edit] Air

There are ten regional airports in Sierra Leone, and one international airport. The Lungi International Airport located in the coastal town of Lungi in Northern Sierra Leone is the primary airport for domestic and international travel to or from Sierra Leone. Passengers cross the river to Aberdeen Heliports in Freetown by hovercraft, ferry or a helicopter. Helicopters are also available from the airport to other major cities in the country. The airport has paved runways longer than 3,047m. The other airports have unpaved runways, and seven have runways 914 to 1,523 metres long; the remaining two have shorter runways.

[edit] Prohibition from E.U. air operations

This country appears on the E.U. list of prohibited countries with regard to the certification of airlines. This means that no airline which is Sierra Leone registered may operate services of any kind within the European Union. This is due to substandard safety standards.[84]

[edit] Water

Sierra Leone has the third largest natural harbor in the world, where international shipping berth at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay in Government Wharf in central Freetown. There are 800 km of waterways in Sierra Leone, of which 600 km are navigable year-round. Major port cities are Bonthe, Freetown, Sherbro Island and Pepel.

[edit] Highways

There are 11,700 kilometers of highways in Sierra Leone, of which 936 km are paved. Sierra Leone highways are linked to Conakry, Guinea, and Monrovia, Liberia.

[edit] Sports

[edit] Football

Sierra Leonean football star Sheriff Suma just after a Leone Stars training session on 4 Sept. 2008 at the National Stadium in Freetown.
Football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Sierra Leone. The national football team, popularly known as the Leone Stars, represents the country in international competitions. It has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup but participated in the 1994 and 1996 African Cup of Nations. The country's national television network, The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) broadcasts the live match, along with several radio stations throughout the country. Some well known Sierra Leonean footballers include the team captain Mohamed Kallon, Julius Gibrilla Woobay, Al Bangura, Paul Kpaka, Rodney Strasser, Ahmed Deen, Samuel Barlay, Kewullay Conteh Albert Jarrett and Kei Kamara
The Sierra Leone National Premier League is the top football league, controlled by the Sierra Leone Football Association. The two biggest and most successful football clubs are East End Lions and Mighty Blackpool, but Kallon F.C. has enjoyed contemporary success. Kallon F.C. won the Premier League and the Sierra Leonean FA Cup in 2006, and eliminated 2006 Nigerian Premier League Champions Ocean Boys FC in the 2007 CAF Champions League first qualifying round, but later lost to ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast in the second qualifying round for the group stage.
The Sierra Leone U-17 football team, nicknamed the Sierra Stars, finished as runner-up at the 2003 African U-17 Championship in Swaziland, but came in last place in their group at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland.

[edit] Cricket

The Sierra Leone cricket team represents Sierra Leone in international cricket competitions, and is among the best in West Africa. It became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council in 2002. It made its international debut at the 2004 African Affiliates Championship, where it finished last of eight teams. But at the equivalent tournament in 2006, Division Three of the African region of the World Cricket League, it finished as runner-up to Mozambique, and just missed a promotion to Division Two.

[edit] Basketball

The Sierra Leone national basketball team represents Sierra Leone in international men's basketball competitions and is controlled by the Sierra Leone Basketball Federation. The squad is mostly home-based, with a few foreign players.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

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  5. ^ Republic of Sierra Leone Embassy in United States. ""Geography"". Retrieved 2009-03-21.
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  22. ^ Utting (1931), p. 8
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  84. ^ List of banned E.U. air carriers

[edit] Book references

[edit] Primary sources

[edit] Secondary sources

  • Room, Adrian (1995). Placenames of the World. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 0786418141.
  • Levinson, Robby (1998). Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference Handbook. Phoenix: Oryx Press. ISBN 1573560197.

[edit] Further reading

  • Abraham, Arthur (1978). Mende Government and Politics under Colonial Rule. Freetown and London.
  • Abraham, Arthur (1978). Cultural Policy in Sierra Leone. UNESCO.
  • Abraham, Arthur (1978). "Sengbe Pieh: A Neglected Hero?". Journal of the Historical Society of Sierra Leone II (2).
  • Abraham, Arthur (c. 1976). Topics in Sierra Leone History: A Counter-Colonial Interpretation. Sierra Leone: Leone Publishers.
  • Bah, M. Alpha (1998). Fulbe Migration in Sierra Leone: A Case History of Twentieth-Century Migration and Settlement Among the Kissi of Koindu. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
  • Berger, Daniel (2003). In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of White and Black in West Africa. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Blyden, Nemata Amelia. 'In Her Majesty' Service: West Indians in British Colonial Government, Sierra Leone, 1808-1880: Race, Class and Ethnicity in a British West African Colony.
  • Clarke, J.I., Nelson, S.J.A. and Swindell, K. (1966). Sierra Leone in Maps. London.
  • Cole, Bernadette (1995). Mass Media, Freedom and Democracy in Sierra Leone. Freetown.
  • Conteh-Morgan, Earl and Dixon-Fyle, Mac (1999). Sierra Leone at the End of the Twentieth Century: History, Politics and Society. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
  • Cox-George, N. A. (1961). Finance and Development in West Africa: The Sierra Leone Experience. London: D. Dobson.
  • Foray, Cyril P. (1977). Historical Dictionary of Sierra Leone. Metuchen and London: The Scarecrow Press.
  • Forna, Aminatta (2002). The Devil that danced on the Water: A daughter’s memoir. London.
  • Fyfe, Christopher (1962). A History of Sierra Leone. Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press.
  • Fyle, Christopher (1964). Sierra Leone Inheritance. London.
  • Fyfe, Christopher (1992). Africanus Horton, 1835-1883 : West African Scientist and Patriot. Aldershot.
  • Gberie, Lansana, Smillie, Ian and Hazleton, Ralph (January 2000). The Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Society. Partnership Africa Canada.
  • Global Witness (June 2000). Conflict Diamonds, Possibilities for the Identification, Certification and Control of Diamonds.
  • Hirsch; John L. (2000). Sierra Leone: Diamonds and the Struggle for Democracy. Lynne Rienner Pub.
  • Jalloh, Alusine (1999). "African Entrepreneurship: Muslim Fula Merchants in Sierra Leone". Monographs in International Studies, Africa Series (Ohio University Center for International Studies) (71).
  • Jalloh, S. Balimo (1991). Sierra Leone. Länderbericht, Bergisch Gladbach.
  • Jalloh, S. Balimo (February 2001). "Conflicts, Resources and Social Instability in Subsahara Africa – The Sierra Leone Case". Internationasles Afrikaforum (37): 166–180.
  • Jalloh, S. Balimo (April 1995). "Subsahara Africa – Trade Expansion Through Countertrade". Internationales Afrikaforum: 365–374.
  • Jones, Durosimi Eldred (1965). Othellos Countrymen. Oxford University Press.
  • Jones, Durosimi Eldred and Eustace Palmer (1995). African Literature Today Africa World Press. London.
  • Jones, Howard (1986). Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and its Impact on American Abolition, Law and Diplomacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kabba, Muctaru, (Editor) (1988). Sierra Leonean Heroes, Fifty Great Men and Women Who Helped to Build Our Nation. Freetown.
  • Koroma, Abdul K. (1996). Sierra Leone – The Agony of a Nation. Freetown: Andromeda Publications.
  • Kpundeh, Sahr John. Politics and Corruption in Africa: A Case Study of Sierra Leone. Lanham: University Press of America.
  • Lewis, Damien (2005). Operation Certain Death - The Inside Story of the SAS'S Greatest Battle. Arrow Books.
  • Nicol, Davidson, Regionalism and the New International Economic Order; UNITAR-CEESTEM-Club of Rome conference at the United Nations, Pergamon Press, 1981.
  • Opala, Joseph (1987). The Gullah: Rice, Slavery, and the Sierra Leone-American Connection. U.S. Information Service.
  • William Reno (1995). Corruption and State Politics in Sierra Leone. Cambridge University Press.
  • Paul Richards (1996). Fighting for the Rain Forest – War Youth & Resources in Sierra Leone. London: James Currey Publishers.
  • Sawyerr, Harry (1970). God, Ancestor or Creator? Aspects of Traditional Belief in Ghana, Nigeria & Sierra Leone. Harlow: Longmans.
  • H.L. van der Laan (1965). The Sierra Leone Diamonds, An Economic Study covering the years 1952-1961. Oxford.
  • Wyse, Akintola J.G. and Deveneaux, Gustav H.K. (1993). The Sierra Leone-German connection, 1787-1987, An Overview. Freetown: The German Embassy.
  • Wyse, Akintola J. G. (1990). H. C. Bankole-Bright and Politics in Colonial Sierra Leone, 1919-1958. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mwakikagile, Godfrey (2001). The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, Chapter Two: Anarchy and Mercenaries in Sierra Leone: The Powerless African State, pp. 19 – 72. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Huntington, New York; Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties, Chapter Twelve: Sierra Leone, pp. 183 – 196, Nova Science Publishers, 2001.

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