Sierra Leone
Overview
Sierra Leone officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. It is bordered by Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

 to the north and east, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71740 km² (27,699 sq mi) and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4 million. It was a colony under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Company
Sierra Leone Company
The Sierra Leone Company was the corporate body involved in founding the second British colony in Africa in 1792 through the resettlement of black American ex-slaves who had initially been settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War...

 from March 11, 1792 until it became a British colony in 1808.
Encyclopedia
Sierra Leone officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. It is bordered by Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

 to the north and east, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71740 km² (27,699 sq mi) and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4 million. It was a colony under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Company
Sierra Leone Company
The Sierra Leone Company was the corporate body involved in founding the second British colony in Africa in 1792 through the resettlement of black American ex-slaves who had initially been settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War...

 from March 11, 1792 until it became a British colony in 1808. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah
Savannah
Savannah or savanna is a type of grassland.It can also mean:-People:* Savannah King, a Canadian freestyle swimmer* Savannah Outen, a singer who gained popularity on You Tube...

 to rainforests. Sierra Leone is divided into four geographical regions: the Northern Province
Northern Province
Northern Province or North Province may refer to:*North Province *Far North Province, Cameroon*North Kazakhstan Province*Northern Province, Rwanda*North Province, New Caledonia*Northern Province, Papua New Guinea...

, Eastern Province
Eastern Province
Eastern Province and East Province may refer to the following places:*Eastern Province, Cameroon*Eastern Province, Cundinamarca, Venezuela*Eastern Province, Rwanda*Eastern Province *Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia...

, Southern Province
Southern Province
Southern Province or South Province may refer to:*South Province, Cameroon*Southern Province, Rwanda*South Province, New Caledonia*Southern Province, Sierra Leone*Southern Province, Sri Lanka*Southern Province, Zambia...

 and the Western Area; which are subdivided into fourteen districts
Districts of Sierra Leone
||The provinces of Sierra Leone are divided into 14 districts. One traditional leader from each district occupies a seat in Sierra Leone's parliament...

. Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

 is the capital, largest city and economic and financial center. The other major cities are Bo
Bo, Sierra Leone
Bo is the second largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest city in the Southern Province. It lies about 164 miles south-east of Freetown and had a population 149,957 in the 2004 census, with a current estimate is 231,494 . The city serve as the capital and administrative center of Bo District...

, Kenema
Kenema
Kenema is the third largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest city in the Eastern Province with a population of 128,402 in the 2004 census and a more recent estimate of 169,937...

, Koidu Town and Makeni
Makeni
Makeni is the largest city in the Nortern Province of Sierra Leone and the fifth largest city in Sierra Leone. The city is the capital of Bombali District and had a population of 80,840 in the 2004 census and a current estimate of 105,900...

.

Sierra Leone is now a constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

, with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature, known as the House of Parliament
Parliament of Sierra Leone
The unicameral Parliament of Sierra Leone is the country's legislative body. It is sometimes known as the House of Representatives.The current Parliament, formed following elections held on 14 May 2002, has a total of 124 members. 112 members are directly elected in multi-member constituencies...

. The Judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 of Sierra Leone is independent of the executive and the legislature and consist of the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Sierra Leone
The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone is the highest court in Sierra Leone. It has final jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters within Sierra Leone and its decisions cannot be appealed...

, Court of Appeals, High Court of Justice and magistrate courts.

Thirteen of the country's fourteen districts have their own directly elected local government
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

 called district council, headed by a Council Chairman. The country's six minicipalities of Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Koidu Town, Makeni and the island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 of Bonthe
Bonthe
Bonthe is a town located on Sherbro Island in Bonthe District of the southern Province of Sierra Leone. The town had a population of 9,535 in the 2004 census, with a current estimate of 10,206. In colonial times it used to be a major trading centre for piassava and other agricultural products...

 in turn have directly elected city councils, headed by mayors. Since Independence in 1961, Sierra Leone's politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 have been dominated by two major political parties
Political Parties
Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy is a book by sociologist Robert Michels, published in 1911 , and first introducing the concept of iron law of oligarchy...

: the Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, along with the All People's Congress .-Formation:...

 (SLPP) and the All People's Congress
All People's Congress
The All People's Congress is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, the other is the Sierra Leone People's Party . The party was founded in 1960 by Pa Mucktarru Kallay, Allieu Badarr Koroma,Alhaji Sheik Gibril Sesay C A Kamara-Taylor, S A T Koroma and Abu Bakarr S Bangura...

 (APC). Other political parties have also existed throughout but with no significant supports.

The country has relied on mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

, especially diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s, for its economic base; it is among the top 10 diamond producing nations in the world, and mineral exports remain the main foreign currency earner. Sierra Leone is also among the largest producers of titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 and bauxite
Bauxite
Bauxite is an aluminium ore and is the main source of aluminium. This form of rock consists mostly of the minerals gibbsite Al3, boehmite γ-AlO, and diaspore α-AlO, in a mixture with the two iron oxides goethite and hematite, the clay mineral kaolinite, and small amounts of anatase TiO2...

, and a major producer of gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

. The country has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile
Rutile
Rutile is a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide, TiO2.Rutile is the most common natural form of TiO2. Two rarer polymorphs of TiO2 are known:...

. Sierra Leone is also home to the third largest natural harbour in the world; where shipping from all over the globe berth at Freetown's famous Queen Elizabeth II Quay. Despite this natural wealth, over 70% of its people live in poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

.

The population of Sierra Leone comprises sixteen ethnic groups, each with its own language and custom. The two largest and most influential are the Mende
Mende people
The Mende people are one of the two largest and most dominant ethnic group in Sierra Leone, along with the Temne. The Mende make up 30% of Sierra Leone's total population or 1,932,015 members...

 and Temne. The Mende are predominantly found in South
Southern Province, Sierra Leone
The Southern Province is one of three provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 19,694 km² and has a population of 1,377,067 . It consists of four districts . Its capital and administrative center is Bo, which is also the second largest and second most populated city in Sierra Leone...

-Eastern Sierra Leone
Eastern Province, Sierra Leone
Eastern Province is one of the four provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 15,553 km² and has a population of 1,187,532...

; the Temne likewise predominate in Northern Sierra Leone
Northern Province, Sierra Leone
The Northern Province is one of the four provincial divisions of Sierra Leone. It comprises five Districts and covers an area of 35,936 km² and with a population of 1,718,240 . Its administrative and economic center is Makeni...

. Although English is the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 spoken at schools and government administration, the Krio language
Krio language
Sierra Leone Krio is the lingua franca and the de facto national language spoken throughout the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Krio is spoken by 97% of Sierra Leone's population and unites the different ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction with each...

 (derived from English and several indigenous African languages) is the primary language of communication among the country's different ethnic groups, spoken as a first language by about 10%, but understood by 95%. The Krio Language unites all the different ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s, especially in their trade and interaction with each other.

Sierra Leone is a predominantly Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 nation, though with a significant Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 minority. Sierra Leone is ranked as one of the most religiously tolerant nations in the world. People are often married across tribal and religious boundaries. Muslims and Christians collaborate and interact with each other peacefully. Religious violence
Religious violence
Religious violence is a term that covers all phenomena where religion, in any of its forms, is either the subject or object of violent behaviour. Religious violence is, specifically, violence that is motivated by or in reaction to religious precepts, texts or doctrines...

 is very rare in the country.

Between 1991 and 2002 the Sierra Leone Civil War
Sierra Leone Civil War
The Sierra Leone Civil War began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front , with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia , intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government...

 devastated the country leaving more than 50,000 people dead, much of the country's infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 destroyed, and over two million people displaced in neighbouring countries; mainly to Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

, which was home to more than six hundred thousand Sierra Leonean refugees. The war was resolved in 2002 after the Nigerian-led ECOMOG troops were heavily reinforced by a British force spearheaded by 1st Bn The Parachute Regiment, supported by the British Royal Navy The arrival of this force resulted in the defeat of rebel forces and restored the civilian government elected in 1996. On January 18, 2002 President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah served as President of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2007.He worked for the United Nations Development Programme and returned to Sierra Leone in 1992...

 declared the civil war officially over. Since then the country has re-established a functioning democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

.

Early inhabitants of Sierra Leone included the Sherbro
Sherbro people
The Sherbro people are a native people of Sierra Leone, who speak the Sherbro language; they make up 3% of Sierra Leone's population or about 201,000. They are also known as the Bullom people...

, Temne and Limba
Limba people (Sierra Leone)
The Limba people is a major ethnic group in the Republic of Sierra Leone. They form the third largest ethnic group in the country, about 8.5% of Sierra Leone's total population ....

 peoples, and later the Mende
Mende people
The Mende people are one of the two largest and most dominant ethnic group in Sierra Leone, along with the Temne. The Mende make up 30% of Sierra Leone's total population or 1,932,015 members...

, who knew the country as Romarong, and the Kono
Kono people
The Kono people is a major ethnic group in Sierra Leone at about 7.6% of the country's total population. Their homeland is the diamond-rich Kono District in south-eastern Sierra Leone. They form by far the single largest ethnic group in the district at about 52% of the population...

 who settled in the east of the country. In 1462, it was visited by the Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra, who dubbed it Serra de Leão, meaning "Lion Mountains". Sierra Leone later became an important centre of the transatlantic trade in slaves
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

 until March 11, 1792 when Freetown was founded by the Sierra Leone Company
Sierra Leone Company
The Sierra Leone Company was the corporate body involved in founding the second British colony in Africa in 1792 through the resettlement of black American ex-slaves who had initially been settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War...

 as a home for former enslaved from (or freed by) the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. In 1808, Freetown became a British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 Crown Colony
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

, and in 1896, the interior of the country became a British Protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

; in 1961, the two regions combined and gained independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

.

Early history

Archaeological finds show that Sierra Leone has been inhabited continuously for at least 2,500 years, populated by successive movements from other parts of Africa. The use of iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 was introduced to Sierra Leone by the 9th century, and by AD 1000 agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 was being practiced by coastal tribes. Sierra Leone's dense tropical rainforest largely protected it from the influence of any pre-colonial African empires and from further Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic influence of the Mali Empire
Mali Empire
The Mali Empire or Mandingo Empire or Manden Kurufa was a West African empire of the Mandinka from c. 1230 to c. 1600. The empire was founded by Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa I...

, the Islamic faith however became common in the 18th century.

European contacts within Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of 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). 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
Trading post
A trading post was a place or establishment in historic Northern America where the trading of goods took place. The preferred travel route to a trading post or between trading posts, was known as a trade route....

 had been built. The Portuguese were joined by the Dutch and French; all of them using Sierra Leone as a trading point for slaves. In 1562, the English joined the trade in human beings when Sir John Hawkins
John Hawkins
Admiral Sir John Hawkins was an English shipbuilder, naval administrator and commander, merchant, navigator, and slave trader. As treasurer and controller of the Royal Navy, he rebuilt older ships and helped design the faster ships that withstood the Spanish Armada in 1588...

 shipped 300 enslaved people, acquired 'by the sword and partly by other means', to the new colonies in America.

Early Colonies

In 1787 a settlement was founded in Sierra Leone in what was called the "Province of Freedom". A number of "Black Poor" arrived off the coast of Sierra Leone on 15 May 1787, accompanied by some English tradesmen
Tradesman
This article is about the skilled manual worker meaning of the term; for other uses see Tradesperson .A tradesman is a skilled manual worker in a particular trade or craft. Economically and socially, a tradesman's status is considered between a laborer and a professional, with a high degree of both...

. Many of the "black poor" were African Americans, who had been given their freedom after seeking refuge with the British Army during the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, but also included other West Indian, African and Asian inhabitants of London. After establishing Granville Town, disease and hostility from the indigenous people eliminated the first group of colonists and destroyed their settlement. A second Granville Town was established by 64 remaining colonists.

Through the impetus of Thomas Peters
Thomas Peters (black leader)
Thomas Peters was one of the Black Loyalist Founding Fathers of Sierra Leone. Peters, along with David George, Moses Wilkinson, Cato Perkins, and Joseph Leonard, were influential blacks who recruited African settlers in Nova Scotia for colonization of Sierra Leone...

, the Sierra Leone Company
Sierra Leone Company
The Sierra Leone Company was the corporate body involved in founding the second British colony in Africa in 1792 through the resettlement of black American ex-slaves who had initially been settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War...

 was established to relocate 1,196 black Americans, most of whom had escaped enslavement in the United States by seeking protection with the British Army during the American Revolution. They had been given land in Nova Scotia and a few had died from the harsh winters there. These colonists built the second (and only permanent) Colony of Sierra Leone and the settlement of Freetown on March 11, 1792. In Sierra Leone they were called the Nova Scotian Settlers or 'Nova Scotians' but were commonly known as the Settlers. The Settlers built Freetown and introduced architectural styles from the American South as well as Western fashion and American courtesy. In the 1790s, the Settlers voted for the first time in elections, as did women. The Sierra Leone Company refused to allow the settlers to take freehold
Fee simple
In English law, a fee simple is an estate in land, a form of freehold ownership. It is the most common way that real estate is owned in common law countries, and is ordinarily the most complete ownership interest that can be had in real property short of allodial title, which is often reserved...

 of the land. Some of the Settlers revolted in 1799. The revolt was only put down by the arrival of over 500 Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n Maroons
Maroon (people)
Maroons were runaway slaves in the West Indies, Central America, South America, and North America, who formed independent settlements together...

, who also arrived via Nova Scotia. In 1800, Jamaican Maroons from Trelawny Town, Jamaica were settled via Nova Scotia.

After sixteen years of running the Colony, the Sierra Leone Company was formed into the African Institution
African Institution
The African Institution in 1807 after Britain abolitionists succeeded in ending slavery in Great Britain. The Institution was formed to succeed where the former Sierra Leone Company had failed - to create a viable, civilized refuge for freed slaves in Sierra Leone, Africa...

. The Institution met in 1807 to achieve more success by focusing on bettering the local economy, but it was constantly split between those British who meant to inspire local entrepreneurs and those with interest in the Macauley & Babington Company which held the (British) monopoly on Sierra Leone trade.

Beginning in 1808 (following the abolition of the slave trade in 1807), thousands of formerly enslaved Africans were liberated in Freetown. Most of these Liberated Africans or 'Recaptives' chose to remain in Sierra Leone. Cut off from their homes and traditions, the Liberated Africans assimilated the Western styles of Settlers and Maroons and built a flourishing trade of flowers and beads on the West African coast. These returned Africans were from many areas of Africa, but principally the west coast. During the 19th century many black Americans, Americo Liberian 'refugees', and particularly West Indians immigrated and settled in Freetown creating a new ethnicity called the Krio.

Colonial era

In the early 20th century, Freetown served as the residence of the British governor who also ruled the Gold Coast
Gold Coast (British colony)
The Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957.-Overview:The first Europeans to arrive at the coast were the Portuguese in 1471. They encountered a variety of African kingdoms, some of which controlled substantial...

 (now Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

) and the Gambia settlements. Sierra Leone also served as the educational centre of British West Africa. Fourah Bay College
Fourah Bay College
Fourah Bay College is the oldest university college in West Africa. It is located atop Mount Aureol in Freetown, Sierra Leone...

, 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
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

.

During Sierra Leone's colonial history, indigenous people
Indigenous peoples of Africa
The indigenous people of Africa are those people of Africa whose way of life, attachment or claims to particular lands, and social and political standing in relation to other more dominant groups have resulted in their substantial marginalisation within modern African states The indigenous people...

 mounted several unsuccessful revolts against British rule. The most notable was the Hut Tax war
Hut Tax War of 1898
The Hut Tax War of 1898 was a war of resistance to British colonialism in Sierra Leone.It was initiated by Temne chief Bai Bureh in 1898, and later involved other native peoples, including the Mende. The war was an attempt by the local African kingdoms to maintain their independence in the face of...

 of 1898. The Hut Tax War consisted of a Northern front, led by Bai Bureh
Bai Bureh
Bai Bureh was a Sierra Leonean ruler and military strategist who led the Temne and Loko uprising against British rule in 1898 in Northern Sierra Leone.-Early life:...

, and Southern front that were sparked at different times and for different reasons. 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. Bai Bureh was finally captured on 11 November 1898 and sent into exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

 in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), while 96 of his comrades were hanged by the British.

The defeat 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.

One notable event in 1935 was the granting of a monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 on mineral mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 to the Sierra Leone Selection Trust
Sierra Leone Selection Trust
The Sierra Leone Selection Trust was formed in 1934 following an agreement between the government of Sierra Leone and the Consolidated African Selection Trust Ltd . CAST was formed in 1924 and was part of a much larger mining finance house Selection Trust Ltd which had been founded in 1913 by...

 run by De Beers
De Beers
De Beers is a family of companies that dominate the diamond, diamond mining, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. De Beers is active in every category of industrial diamond mining: open-pit, underground, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep sea...

, which was scheduled to last 98 years.

In 1924, Sierra Leone was divided into a Colony and a Protectorate, with separate and different political systems constitutionally defined for each. Antagonism between the two entities escalated to a heated debate in 1947, when proposals were introduced to provide for a single political system for both the Colony and the Protectorate. Most of the proposals came from the Protectorate. The Krio
Krio
Krio may refer to:*Sierra Leone Krio people*Krio language, language of the Sierra Leone Krio people*Krio Dayak people, an ethnic group in West Kalimantan, Indonesia*Krio Dayak language*Keriau River, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia...

, led by Isaac Wallace-Johnson, opposed the proposals, the main effect of which would have been to diminish their political power. It was due to the astute politics of Sir
Sir
Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

 Milton Margai
Milton Margai
Sir Milton Augustus Strieby Margai was a Sierra Leonean politician and the first prime minister of Sierra Leone...

 that the educated Protectorate elite was won over to join forces with the paramount chiefs in the face of Krio
Krio
Krio may refer to:*Sierra Leone Krio people*Krio language, language of the Sierra Leone Krio people*Krio Dayak people, an ethnic group in West Kalimantan, Indonesia*Krio Dayak language*Keriau River, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia...

 intransigence. Later, Sir Milton used the same skills to win over opposition leaders and moderate Krio
Krio
Krio may refer to:*Sierra Leone Krio people*Krio language, language of the Sierra Leone Krio people*Krio Dayak people, an ethnic group in West Kalimantan, Indonesia*Krio Dayak language*Keriau River, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia...

 elements for the achievement of independence.

In November 1951, Sir
Sir
Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

 Milton Margai
Milton Margai
Sir Milton Augustus Strieby Margai was a Sierra Leonean politician and the first prime minister of Sierra Leone...

 oversaw the drafting of a new constitution, which united the separate Colonial and Protectorate legislatures and—-most importantly—-provided a framework for decolonization
Decolonization
Decolonization refers to the undoing of colonialism, the unequal relation of polities whereby one people or nation establishes and maintains dependent Territory over another...

. In 1953, Sierra Leone was granted local ministerial powers, and Sir Milton Margai, was elected Chief Minister
Chief Minister
A Chief Minister is the elected head of government of a sub-national state, provinces of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, notably a state of India, a territory of Australia or a British Overseas Territory that has attained self-government...

 of Sierra Leone. The new constitution ensured Sierra Leone a parliamentary system within the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. In May 1957, Sierra Leone held its first parliamentary election. The SLPP, which was then the most popular political party in the colony of Sierra Leone, won the most seats in Parliament. Margai was also re-elected as Chief Minister by a landslide.

On April 20, 1960, Sir Milton Margai led the twenty four members of the Sierra Leonean delegation
Delegation
Delegation is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific activities. However the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i.e...

 at the constitutional conferences that were held with Queen Elizabeth II and British Colonial Secretary Iain Macleod
Iain Macleod
Iain Norman Macleod was a British Conservative Party politician and government minister.-Early life:...

 in the negotiations for independence held at the Lancaster House
Lancaster House
Lancaster House is a mansion in the St. James's district in the West End of London. It is close to St. James's Palace and much of the site was once part of the palace complex...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. http://news.sl/drwebsite/publish/printer_200517413.shtmlhttp://allafrica.com/stories/201105040814.html. All of the twenty four members of the Sierra Leonean delegation were prominent and well-respected politicians including Sir Milton's younger brother lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 Sir
Sir
Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

 Albert Margai
Albert Margai
Sir Albert Michael Margai was the second prime minister of Sierra Leone and the half-brother of Sir Milton Margai, the country's first Prime Minister...

, the outspoken trade unionist Siaka Stevens
Siaka Stevens
Siaka Probyn Stevens was the 3rd prime minister of Sierra Leone from 1967–1971 and the 1st president of Sierra Leone from 1971–1985. Stevens is generally criticised for dictatorial methods of government in which many of his political opponents were executed, as well as for mismanaging...

, Creole activist Isaac Wallace-Johnson
Isaac Wallace-Johnson
Isaac Theophilus Akunna Wallace-Johnson was a Sierra Leonean and British West African workers' leader, journalist, activist and politician. Born into a poor Creole family in Sierra Leone, he emerged as a natural leader in school...

, SLPP strongman Lamina Sankoh
Lamina Sankoh
Lamina Sankoh , born as Etheldred Jones, was a prominent Sierra Leonean pre-independence politician, educator, banker and cleric. Sankoh is known most prominently for helping to found the People's Party in 1948, which was one of the first political parties in Sierra Leone...

, Dr
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 John Karefa-Smart
John Karefa-Smart
Dr. John Albert Musselman Karefa-Smart was a politician from Sierra Leone and leader of the United National People's Party. He was an ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church.-Education:...

, Paramount chief
Paramount chief
A paramount chief is the highest-level traditional chief or political leader in a regional or local polity or country typically administered politically with a chief-based system. This definition is used occasionally in anthropological and archaeological theory to refer to the rulers of multiple...

 Ella Koblo Gulama
Ella Koblo Gulama
style="float:right;"|Ella Koblo Gulama was a Sierra Leonean paramount chief and politician. In 1957, she became the first elected female Member of Parliament in Sierra Leone and all of sub-Saharan Africa. She was re-elected in 1962...

, professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 Kande Bureh, lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 Sir
Sir
Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

 Banja Tejan-Sie
Banja Tejan-Sie
Sir Banja Tejan-Sie, GCMG was a politician and lawyer in Sierra Leone and one of the "founding fathers" of the Sierra Leone People's Party . Tejan-Sie was born in Moyamba District to a famous Muslim cleric and scholar from the Fulah tribe...

, educationist Amadu Wurie
Amadu Wurie
Amadu Wurie was an early Sierra Leonean educationist and politician.-Biography:Wurie was born in Gbinti, Port Loko District, in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, the son of a Fula paramount chief...

, Mohamed Sanusi Mustapha and former mayor of Freetown Eustace Henry Taylor Cummings
Eustace Henry Taylor Cummings
Eustace Henry Taylor Cummings CBE qualified as a doctor at Liverpool University and then served as a medical officer in Sierra Leone. He served as Mayor of Freetown from 1948 to 1954...

. On the conclusion of talks in London, however, the outspoken trade unionist Siaka Stevens was the only delegate who refused to sign Sierra Leone's declaration of Independendence on the grounds that there had been a secret defence pact between Sierra Leone and Another point of contention by Stevens was the Sierra Leonean government's position that there would be no elections held before independence which would effectively shut him out Sierra Leone's political process http://www.siakastevens.org/?p=363 . Upon their return to Freetown on May 4, 1960, Stevens was promptly expelled from the People's National Party
People's National Party
The People's National Party is a social democratic and social liberal Jamaican political party, founded by Norman Manley in 1938. It is the oldest political party in the Anglophone Caribbean and one of the main two political parties in Jamaica. Out of the two major parties, it is considered more...

 (PNP).

Early independence (1961–1991)

On the 27 April 1961 Sierra Leone became politically independent of Great Britain and Sir Milton Margai became the country's first Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

. It retained a parliamentary system of government and was a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. In May 1962 Sierra Leone held its first general election
Sierra Leonean general election, 1962
General elections were held in Sierra Leone in May 1962, just over a year after the country gained independence from the United Kingdom. The first to be held under universal suffrage, they were won by the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party, although his party received less votes than independent...

 as an Independent nation. The Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, along with the All People's Congress .-Formation:...

 (SLPP) won the most seats in parliament and Sir Milton Margai
Milton Margai
Sir Milton Augustus Strieby Margai was a Sierra Leonean politician and the first prime minister of Sierra Leone...

 was re-elected as prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

. The years just after independence were prosperous with money from mineral resources being used for development and the founding of Njala University
Njala University
Njala University is a major Sierra Leonean university located in the country's second largest city of Bo and the town of Njala, Moyamba District, Sierra Leone...

.

Outspoken government critic against the SLPP government, Siaka Stevens form his own political party in 1962 called the All People's Congress
All People's Congress
The All People's Congress is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, the other is the Sierra Leone People's Party . The party was founded in 1960 by Pa Mucktarru Kallay, Allieu Badarr Koroma,Alhaji Sheik Gibril Sesay C A Kamara-Taylor, S A T Koroma and Abu Bakarr S Bangura...

 (APC). Stevens used the Northern part of Sierra Leone as his political base.

Upon Sir Milton's death in 1964, his half-brother, Sir Albert Margai
Albert Margai
Sir Albert Michael Margai was the second prime minister of Sierra Leone and the half-brother of Sir Milton Margai, the country's first Prime Minister...

, was appointed as Prime Minister by parliament.

Sir Albert Administration

Unlike his late brother, Sir Milton, Sir Albert proved unpopular and resorted to increasingly authoritarian actions in response to protests, including enacted several laws against the opposition All People's Congress
All People's Congress
The All People's Congress is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, the other is the Sierra Leone People's Party . The party was founded in 1960 by Pa Mucktarru Kallay, Allieu Badarr Koroma,Alhaji Sheik Gibril Sesay C A Kamara-Taylor, S A T Koroma and Abu Bakarr S Bangura...

 (APC) and attempting to establish a single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

. Unlike his late brother Milton, Sir Albert was opposed to the colonial legacy of allowing the country's Paramount Chiefs executive powers and he was seen as a threat to the existence of the ruling houses across the country. In 1967, Riots broke out in Freetown against Sir Albert's policies; in response Margai declare a state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

 across the country. Sir Albert was accused of corruption and of a policy of affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 in favor of his own Mende
Mende people
The Mende people are one of the two largest and most dominant ethnic group in Sierra Leone, along with the Temne. The Mende make up 30% of Sierra Leone's total population or 1,932,015 members...

 ethnic group

The APC, with leader Siaka Stevens
Siaka Stevens
Siaka Probyn Stevens was the 3rd prime minister of Sierra Leone from 1967–1971 and the 1st president of Sierra Leone from 1971–1985. Stevens is generally criticised for dictatorial methods of government in which many of his political opponents were executed, as well as for mismanaging...

, won the closely contested 1967 general election
Sierra Leonean general election, 1967
General elections were held in Sierra Leone on 17 March 1967. They were won by the opposition All People's Congress, marking the first time that a ruling party had lost an election in sub-Saharan Africa...

 as Stevens was elected Prime Minister. Within hours Stevens was ousted in a bloodless military coup lead by the commander of the army Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 David Lansana
David Lansana
Brigadier David Lansana was one of the very few Sierra Leoneans to be educated at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England during the colonial period. As Lieutenant David Lansana he was a frequent and popular visitor to the home of Sir Robert de Zouche Hall, Governor of Sierra Leone...

 and ethnic Mende and a close ally of Sir Albert who had appointed him to the position in 1964. Brigadier Lansana placed Stevens under house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

 and insisted the determination of office of the Prime Minister should await the election of the tribal representatives to the house. A group of senior military officers overrode this action by seizing control of the government on March 23, arresting Brigadier Lansana, and suspending the constitution. The group constituted itself as the National Reformation Council (NRC) with Brigadier Anrew Juxon-Smith as its chairman http://www.worldrover.com/history/sierra_leone_history.html. In April 1968 a group of senior military officers who called themselves the Anti-Corruption Revolutionary Movement lead by Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 John Amadu Bangura
John Amadu Bangura
Brigadier John Amadu Bangura was the acting Governor-General of Sierra Leone from 18 April 1968 until 22 April 1968. He led the Sargents Coup in 1968 that successfully re-instated civilian rule in Sierra Leone.- Early life :...

 overthrew the NRC. The ACRM juntas arrested all senior NRC members. The democratic constitution was restored, and power was handed back to Stevens, who at last assumed the office of Prime Minister.
.

Stevens government

Stevens assumed power again in 1968 with a great deal of promise and ambition. Much trust was placed upon him as he championed multi-party politics. 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. Upon taking power from the military, however, Stevens drove the SLPP from competitive politics in general elections using violence and intimidation. To gain support of the military, Stevens retained the popular John Amadu Bangura as the head of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

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. Many senior officers in the Sierra Leone military were 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
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 and plotting to commit a coup against the Stevens government. He was convicted and hanged On 29 March 1970.

In March 1971, the government survived an unsuccessful military coup. In April 1971 a republican constitution was adopted under which Stevens became President. In 1972 by-elections the opposition SLPP complained of intimidation and procedural obstruction by the APC and militia. These problems became so severe that it boycotted the 1973 general election
Sierra Leonean general election, 1973
General elections were held in Sierra Leone on 15 May 1973. The result was a victory for the All People's Congress, which won 84 of the 85 elected seats. However, the main opposition, the Sierra Leone People's Party boycotted the election due to violence and alleged irregularities, and most APC...

; as a result the APC won 84 of the 85 elected seats. 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 19 July 1975, 14 senior army and government officials including Brigadier David Lansana, former cabinet minister Mohamed Sorie Forna, Brigadier General Ibrahim Bash Taqi and Lieutenant Habib Lansana Kamara were executed after being convicted for allegedly attempting a coup to topple president Stevens' government.

In 1977, student demonstrations against the government disrupted Sierra Leone politics. A general election
Sierra Leonean parliamentary election, 1977
Parliamentary elections were held in Sierra Leone on 6 May 1977. They were the last multi-party elections held in the country until 1996.-Background:...

 was called later that year in which corruption was again endemic; the APC won 74 seats and the SLPP 15. In 1978, the APC dominant parliament approved a new constitution making the country a one-party state. This move lead to another major demonstration against the government in many parts of the country but again it was put down by the army and the police.

Siaka Stevens retired in November 1985 and was succeeded by his favoured candidate head of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh
Joseph Saidu Momoh
Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh was the President of Sierra Leone from November, 1985 to April 29, 1992.- Biography :...

. Joseph Saidu Momoh was sworn in Freetown on 28 November 1985 with Francis Minah
Francis Minah
Francis Misheck Minah was a Sierra Leonean politician. Minah earned his law degree from King's College London. He returned to Sierra Leone and served in many capacities as Sierra Leone's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, under former...

 as Vice president. A one party parliamentary election between APC members was held in May, 1986. President Momoh's 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 cabinet ministers. To formalise his war against corruption, President Momoh announced a "Code of Conduct
Code of Conduct
A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the responsibilities of or proper practices for an individual, party or organization. Related concepts include ethical codes and honor codes....

 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
Francis Minah
Francis Misheck Minah was a Sierra Leonean politician. Minah earned his law degree from King's College London. He returned to Sierra Leone and served in many capacities as Sierra Leone's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, under former...

, who was removed from office, convicted for plotting the coup, and executed by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 in 1989 along with 5 others.

Multi-party constitution and Revolutionary United Front rebellion (1991 to present)

Between 1991 and 2002 a civil war
Sierra Leone Civil War
The Sierra Leone Civil War began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front , with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia , intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government...

 devastated the country leaving more than 50,000 people dead and much of the country's infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 destroyed. The civil war broke out, mainly due to government corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 and mismanagement of diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

 resources and abuse of power by various governments since independence from Britain (Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Report). The brutal civil war that was going on in neighbouring Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 played an undeniable role in the outbreak of fighting in Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor—then leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia
National Patriotic Front of Liberia
The National Patriotic Front of Liberia was a rebel group that initiated and participated in the First Liberian Civil War from 1989 to 1996.-Leadership:...

—reportedly helped form the Revolutionary United Front (RUF)
Revolutionary United Front
The Revolutionary United Front was a rebel army that fought a failed eleven-year war in Sierra Leone, starting in 1991 and ending in 2002. It later developed into a political party, which existed until 2007...

 under the command of former Sierra Leonean army corporal
Corporal
Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4....

 Foday Saybana Sankoh
Foday Sankoh
Foday Saybana Sankoh was the leader and founder of the Sierra Leone rebel group Revolutionary United Front in the 11-year-long Sierra Leone Civil War, starting in 1991 and ending in 2002...

, an ethnic Temne from Tonkolili District
Tonkolili District
Tonkolili District is a district in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Magburaka. The other major towns include Mathora, Magbass, Yonibana and Mile 91...

 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. In 2003 Foday Sankoh was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes and crimes against humanity and died under UN custody before the trials could be concluded. Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is currently in the Hague at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), where he faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for crimes allegedly committed by Sankoh's RUF in Sierra Leone.

The RUF, led by Sankoh and backed by Taylor, launched its first attack in villages in Kailahun District
Kailahun District
Kailahun District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Kailahun. The other major towns in the district include Segbwema, Koindu, Pendembu and Daru. As of 2010, the district has a population of 395,957 ....

 in Eastern Sierra Leone from Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 on 23 March 1991. The government of Sierra Leone, overwhelmed by a crumbling economy and corruption, as well as a demoralised army, was unable to put up significant resistance against the incursion of the RUF. Within a month of entering Sierra Leone from Liberia, the RUF controlled much of Eastern Sierra Leone, including the cash crop production areas of Kailahun and the government diamond mines in Kono District
Kono District
Kono District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Koidu Town. The other major towns in the district include Yengema, Tombodu, Motema, Jaiama-Nimokoro and Sewafe. Kono District is the largest diamond producer in Sierra Leone.The population of Kono...

. Forced recruitment of child soldiers was also an early feature of the rebel strategy.

In October 1999, the United Nations agreed to send peacekeeper
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

s 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 Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

n forces had left and UN forces were trying to disarm the RUF in eastern Sierra Leone, Sankoh
Foday Sankoh
Foday Saybana Sankoh was the leader and founder of the Sierra Leone rebel group Revolutionary United Front in the 11-year-long Sierra Leone Civil War, starting in 1991 and ending in 2002...

's forces clashed with the UN troops, and some 500 peacekeepers were taken hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

 as the peace accord effectively collapsed. The hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

 crisis resulted in more fighting between the RUF and the government as UN troops launched Operation Khukri
Operation Khukri
Operation Khukri was a daring rescue mission conducted by the Para Commandos special forces in Sierra Leone,June 2000. The kukri is a curved Nepali Gurkha knife which can be used as a tool as well as a close combat mêlée weapon.The mission was a total success which resulted in safe rescue of all...

 to end the siege. The Operation was successful with Indian and British Special Forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 being the main contingents.

The situation in the country deteriorated to such an extent that British troops were deployed in Operation Palliser
Operation Palliser
Operation Palliser was a British Armed forces operation in Sierra Leone in 2000 under the command of Brigadier David Richards.Initially, its scope was limited to evacuation of non-combatants only....

, originally simply to evacuate foreign nationals. However, the British exceeded their original mandate, and took full military action to finally defeat the rebels and restore order. The British were the catalyst for the ceasefire that ended the civil war. Elements of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, together with administrators and politicians, remain in Sierra Leone to this day, helping train the armed forces, improve the infrastructure of the country and administer financial and material aid. Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, the Prime Minister of Britain at the time of the British intervention, is regarded as a hero by the people of Sierra Leone, many of whom are keen for more British involvement. Sierra Leoneans have been described as "The World's Most Resilient People".

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
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

 and Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

. 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 2002, Kabbah
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah served as President of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2007.He worked for the United Nations Development Programme and returned to Sierra Leone in 1992...

 was re-elected president. By 2004, the disarmament process was complete. Also in 2004, a UN-backed war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s 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 the 50% plus one vote majority stipulated in the constitution on the first round of voting. A runoff election was held in September 2007, and Ernest Bai Koroma
Ernest Bai Koroma
Ernest Bai Koroma is the fourth and current President of Sierra Leone. He was sworn in as President on 17 September 2007 at the State House in the capital Freetown, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off in the 2007 Sierra Leone presidential election with 54.6% of the vote over...

, the candidate of the APC and ethnically a half Limba
Limba
Limba may refer to:*Limba , a loa In Haitian Vodun who lived among rocks and eats passers-by.*The Limba people *The Limba language *The Limba people *The Limba language...

 and half Temne
Temne
Temne can refer to:* A West Atlantic language, the Temne language is one of the most widely spoken indigenous languages of Sierra Leone, West Africa...

 from the north was elected president.

By 2007, there had been an increase in the number of drug cartel
Drug cartel
Drug cartels are criminal organizations developed with the primary purpose of promoting and controlling drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterprises. The term was applied when the largest trafficking...

s, many from Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, using Sierra Leone as a base to ship drugs on to Europe. It was feared that this might lead to increased corruption and violence and turn the country, like neighbouring Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north, and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west....

, into a narco state. However, the new government of president Koroma quickly amended the laws against drug trafficking in the country, updating the existing legislation from those inherited at independence in 1961, to address the international concerns, increasing punishment for offenders both in terms of higher, if not prohibitive, fines, lengthier prison terms and provision for possible extradition of offenders wanted elsewhere, including to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Geography and climate

Sierra Leone is located on the west
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

 coast of Africa, lying mostly between latitudes
7th parallel north
The 7th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 7 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 10°N
10th parallel north
The 10th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 10 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 (a small area is south of 7°), and longitudes 10°
10th meridian west
The meridian 10° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland, Africa, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 14°W
14th meridian west
The meridian 14° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Greenland, Iceland, the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

The country is bordered by Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

 to the north and northeast, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 to the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Sierra Leone has a total area of 71740 km² (27,699 sq mi), divided into a land area of 71620 km² (27,653 sq mi) and water of 120 km² (46 sq mi). The country has four distinct geographical regions. In eastern Sierra Leone the plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 is interspersed with high mountains, where Mount Bintumani
Mount Bintumani
Mount Bintumani is the highest peak in Sierra Leone, at . It lies in the Loma Mountains and its lower slopes are covered in rainforests, home to a wide variety of animals. These include Pygmy Hippopotamuses, dwarf crocodiles, Rufous Fishing-owls and numerous primates....

 reaches 1948 m (6,391 ft), the highest point in the country. The upper part of the drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 of the Moa River
Moa River
The Moa River is a river in west Africa. It arises in the highlands of Guinea and flows southwest, forming parts of the Guinea–Liberia and the Guinea – Sierra Leone borders. It flows into the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. Both Tiwai Island and Sulima are located on the Moa....

 is located in the south of this region.

The centre of the country is a region of lowland
Lowland
In physical geography, a lowland is any broad expanse of land with a general low level. The term is thus applied to the landward portion of the upward slope from oceanic depths to continental highlands, to a region of depression in the interior of a mountainous region, to a plain of denudation, or...

 plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s, containing forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

s, bush
The Bush
"The bush" is a term used for rural, undeveloped land or country areas in certain countries.-Australia:The term is iconic in Australia. In reference to the landscape, "bush" describes a wooded area, intermediate between a shrubland and a forest, generally of dry and nitrogen-poor soil, mostly...

 and farmland
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

, 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
Guinean forest-savanna mosaic
The Guinean forest-savanna mosaic is an ecoregion of West Africa, a band of interlaced forest, savanna, and grassland running east to west and dividing the tropical moist forests near the coast from the West Sudanian savanna of the interior.-Setting:...

 ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

, 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
Guinean mangroves
The Guinean mangroves are a coastal ecoregion of mangrove swamps in rivers and estuaries near the ocean of West Africa from Senegal to Sierra Leone.-Location and description:...

 swamp. The national capital Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

 sits on a coastal peninsula
Peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

, situated next to the Sierra Leone Harbour, the world's third largest natural harbour.

The climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 is tropical, with two seasons determining the agricultural cycle: the rainy season from May to November, and a dry season
Dry season
The dry season is a term commonly used when describing the weather in the tropics. The weather in the tropics is dominated by the tropical rain belt, which oscillates from the northern to the southern tropics over the course of the year...

 from December to May, which includes harmattan
Harmattan
The Harmattan is a dry and dusty West African trade wind. It blows south from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and the middle of March...

, 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.

Environment

Human activities claimed to be responsible or contributing to land degradation in Sierra Leone include unsustainable agricultural land use, poor soil and water management practices, deforestation, removal of natural vegetation, fuelwood consumption and to a lesser extent overgrazing and urbanization.

Deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

, both for commercial timber and to make room for agriculture, is the major concern and represents an enormous loss of natural economic wealth to the nation . Mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 and slash and burn
Slash and burn
Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique which involves cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock...

 for land conversion – such as cattle grazing – dramatically diminished forested land in Sierra Leone since the 1980s. It is listed among countries of concern for emissions, as having Low Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (LFHD) . There are concerns that heavy logging continues in the Tama-Tonkoli Forest Reserve in the north, they have extended their operations to Nimini, Kono District, Eastern Province; Jui, Western Rural District, Western Area; Loma Mountains National Park, Koinadougu, Northern Province; and with plans to start operations in the Kambui Forest reserve in the Kenema District, Eastern Province .

Habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

 degradation for the African Wild Dog
African Wild Dog
Lycaon pictus is a large canid found only in Africa, especially in savannas and lightly wooded areas. It is variously called the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf...

, Lycaon pictus, has been decreased, such that this canid
Canidae
Canidae is the biological family of carnivorous and omnivorous mammals that includes wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, and domestic dogs. A member of this family is called a canid . The Canidae family is divided into two tribes: Canini and Vulpini...

 is deemed to have been extirpated in Sierra Leone.

Until 2002, Sierra Leone lacked a forest management system due to the 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
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of higher plants, 147 mammals, 626 bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and 99 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 species.

The Environmental Justice Foundation
Environmental Justice Foundation
The Environmental Justice Foundation is a [non-governmental organisation]] founded in 2001 by Steve Trent and Juliette Williams that promotes the non-violent resolution of human rights abuses and related environmental issues in the Global South...

 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.

In June 2005, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Bird Notes and News was first published in April 1903.The title changed to 'Bird Notes' in 1947. In the 1950s, there were four copies per year . Each volume covered two years, spread over three calendar years...

 (RSPB) and Bird Life International agreed to support a conservation-sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

 project in the Gola Forest in south eastern Sierra Leone, an important surviving fragment of rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

 in Sierra Leone.

Government and politics

Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 with a directly elected
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

 president and a unicameral legislature. The current system of government in Sierra Leone, established under the 1991 Constitution, is modelled on the following structure of government: the Legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

, the Executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 and the Judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

.

Within the confines of the 1991 Constitution, supreme legislative powers are vested in Parliament
Parliament of Sierra Leone
The unicameral Parliament of Sierra Leone is the country's legislative body. It is sometimes known as the House of Representatives.The current Parliament, formed following elections held on 14 May 2002, has a total of 124 members. 112 members are directly elected in multi-member constituencies...

, 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
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

 is head.

The president is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 and the commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces
Military of Sierra Leone
The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces is the 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...

 and the Sierra Leone Police
Sierra Leone Police
The Sierra Leone Police locally known as Salone Police is the national police force of the Republic of Sierra Leone, responsible for law enforcement and crime investigation throughout Sierra Leone...

. 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
Two-round system
The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

 between the top two candidates.

The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma
Ernest Bai Koroma
Ernest Bai Koroma is the fourth and current President of Sierra Leone. He was sworn in as President on 17 September 2007 at the State House in the capital Freetown, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off in the 2007 Sierra Leone presidential election with 54.6% of the vote over...

, who was sworn in on 17 September 2007, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off election over the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 Vice president
Vice President of Sierra Leone
The Vice President of Sierra Leone is a position in the executive branch of the Republic of Sierra Leone.-History:When Sierra Leone was declared a Republic in 1971 by then Prime Minister Siaka Stevens, the position of Vice President was created...

, Solomon Berewa
Solomon Berewa
Solomon Ekuma Dominic Berewa was Vice-President of Sierra Leone from May 2002 to September 2007...

 of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP).

Next to the president is the Vice president
Vice President of Sierra Leone
The Vice President of Sierra Leone is a position in the executive branch of the Republic of Sierra Leone.-History:When Sierra Leone was declared a Republic in 1971 by then Prime Minister Siaka Stevens, the position of Vice President was created...

, 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 otherwise temporarily unable to fulfil his or her duties. The vice president is elected jointly with the president as his or her running mate
Running mate
A running mate is a person running together with another person on a joint ticket during an election. The term is most often used in reference to the person in the subordinate position but can also properly be used when referring to both candidates, such as "Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen were...

. Sierra Leone's current vice president is Samuel Sam-Sumana
Samuel Sam-Sumana
Alhaji Sahr Samuel Sam-Sumana is a Sierra Leonean politician, and the current Vice President of Sierra Leone...

, sworn in on 17 September 2007.

The Parliament of Sierra Leone
Parliament of Sierra Leone
The unicameral Parliament of Sierra Leone is the country's legislative body. It is sometimes known as the House of Representatives.The current Parliament, formed following elections held on 14 May 2002, has a total of 124 members. 112 members are directly elected in multi-member constituencies...

 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 chief
Paramount chief
A paramount chief is the highest-level traditional chief or political leader in a regional or local polity or country typically administered politically with a chief-based system. This definition is used occasionally in anthropological and archaeological theory to refer to the rulers of multiple...

s from each of the country's 12 administrative districts
Districts of Sierra Leone
||The provinces of Sierra Leone are divided into 14 districts. One traditional leader from each district occupies a seat in Sierra Leone's parliament...

.

The current parliament in the August 2007 Parliamentary elections is made up of three political parties.
The most recent parliamentary elections were held on 11 August 2007. The All People's Congress
All People's Congress
The All People's Congress is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, the other is the Sierra Leone People's Party . The party was founded in 1960 by Pa Mucktarru Kallay, Allieu Badarr Koroma,Alhaji Sheik Gibril Sesay C A Kamara-Taylor, S A T Koroma and Abu Bakarr S Bangura...

 (APC), won 59 of 112 parliamentary seats; the Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, along with the All People's Congress .-Formation:...

 (SLPP) won 43; and the People's Movement for Democratic Change
People's Movement for Democratic Change
The People's Movement for Democratic Change is a liberal party in Sierra Leone. It is a breakaway faction of the Sierra Leone People's Party . It was officially registered on 19 January 2006...

 (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.

Since independence in 1961, Sierra Leone's politics has been dominated by two major political parties, the Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party
Sierra Leone People's Party is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, along with the All People's Congress .-Formation:...

 (SLPP), and the ruling All People's Congress
All People's Congress
The All People's Congress is one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, the other is the Sierra Leone People's Party . The party was founded in 1960 by Pa Mucktarru Kallay, Allieu Badarr Koroma,Alhaji Sheik Gibril Sesay C A Kamara-Taylor, S A T Koroma and Abu Bakarr S Bangura...

 (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
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

, headed by the Chief Justice
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

 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
Rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

 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
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

 is Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh
Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh
Haja Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh is the current Chief Justice of Sierra Leone. She was sworn in as Sierra Leone's new Chief Justice on January 26, 2008 after being appointed by president Ernest Bai Koroma with the approval of the Sierra Leone Parliament to replace outgoing Chief Justice Ade Renner Thomas...

, who was appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma and took office on 25 January 2008 upon her confirmation by parliament. She is the first woman in the history of Sierra Leone to hold such position.

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
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. Sierra Leone has good relations with the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, including the United States and has maintained historical ties with the United Kingdom and other former British colonies
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 through membership of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. The United Kingdom has played a major role in providing aid to the former colony, together with administrative help and military training since intervening to end the Civil War in 2000.

Former President Siaka Stevens
Siaka Stevens
Siaka Probyn Stevens was the 3rd prime minister of Sierra Leone from 1967–1971 and the 1st president of Sierra Leone from 1971–1985. Stevens is generally criticised for dictatorial methods of government in which many of his political opponents were executed, as well as for mismanaging...

' government had sought closer relations with other West African countries under the Economic Community of West African States
Economic Community of West African States
The Economic Community of West African States is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region....

 (ECOWAS) a policy continued by the current. Sierra Leone, along with Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 and Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

 form the Mano River Union
Mano River Union
The Mano River Union is an international association established in 1973 between Liberia and Sierra Leone. In 1980, Guinea joined the union. The goal of the Union was to foster economic cooperation among the countries...

 (MRU) primarily designed to implement development projects and promote regional economic integration
Economic integration
Economic integration refers to trade unification between different states by the partial or full abolishing of customs tariffs on trade taking place within the borders of each state...

 between the three countries.

Sierra Leone is also a member of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, the African Development Bank
African Development Bank
The African Development Bank Group is a development bank established in 1964 with the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa...

 (AFDB), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 (NAM). Sierra Leone is also a member of the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US military
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 (as covered under Article 98).

The Office of National Security plays an important security coordination role, including in the leadup to the 2007 elections.

Provinces and districts

The Republic of Sierra Leone is composed of four regions the Northern Province
Northern Province, Sierra Leone
The Northern Province is one of the four provincial divisions of Sierra Leone. It comprises five Districts and covers an area of 35,936 km² and with a population of 1,718,240 . Its administrative and economic center is Makeni...

, Southern Province
Southern Province, Sierra Leone
The Southern Province is one of three provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 19,694 km² and has a population of 1,377,067 . It consists of four districts . Its capital and administrative center is Bo, which is also the second largest and second most populated city in Sierra Leone...

, the Eastern Province
Eastern Province, Sierra Leone
Eastern Province is one of the four provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 15,553 km² and has a population of 1,187,532...

 and the Western Area. The first three provinces are further divided into 12 districts, and the districts are further divided into 149 chiefdoms. The Local Government Act 2004 designated units of government called localities each of which would have a council to exercise authority and carry out functions at a local level. There are 13 district councils, one for each of the 12 districts and one for the Western Area Rural, and six municipalities each with a council, Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

, Bo
Bo, Sierra Leone
Bo is the second largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest city in the Southern Province. It lies about 164 miles south-east of Freetown and had a population 149,957 in the 2004 census, with a current estimate is 231,494 . The city serve as the capital and administrative center of Bo District...

, Bonthe
Bonthe
Bonthe is a town located on Sherbro Island in Bonthe District of the southern Province of Sierra Leone. The town had a population of 9,535 in the 2004 census, with a current estimate of 10,206. In colonial times it used to be a major trading centre for piassava and other agricultural products...

, Kenema
Kenema
Kenema is the third largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest city in the Eastern Province with a population of 128,402 in the 2004 census and a more recent estimate of 169,937...

, Koidu and Makeni
Makeni
Makeni is the largest city in the Nortern Province of Sierra Leone and the fifth largest city in Sierra Leone. The city is the capital of Bombali District and had a population of 80,840 in the 2004 census and a current estimate of 105,900...

.
|
DistrictArea km2 Province Population (2004 census) Population (2008 estimates)
Bombali District
Bombali District
Bombali District is district in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. It's capital and largest city is Makeni, which is also the fifth largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest city in the north. The other major towns in the district include Kamakwie, Kamabai, Masingbi and Binkolo...

 
Makeni
Makeni
Makeni is the largest city in the Nortern Province of Sierra Leone and the fifth largest city in Sierra Leone. The city is the capital of Bombali District and had a population of 80,840 in the 2004 census and a current estimate of 105,900...

7,985 Northern Province
Northern Province, Sierra Leone
The Northern Province is one of the four provincial divisions of Sierra Leone. It comprises five Districts and covers an area of 35,936 km² and with a population of 1,718,240 . Its administrative and economic center is Makeni...

408,390 424,100
Koinadugu District
Koinadugu District
Koinadugu District Is a District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. It is by far the largest District in Sierra Leone in geographical area. Its capital and largest city is Kabala, which is also one of the main cities in Northern Sierra Leone...

 
Kabala
Kabala, Sierra Leone
Kabala is the capital and largest town of Koinadugu District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, with a population of 14,108 in the 2004 census, and a current estimate of 18,770 Kabala is one of the main cities in northern Sierra Leone and is set in a rural landscape...

12,121 265,758
Port Loko District
Port Loko District
Port Loko District is the most populous district in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone with a population of 489,488 Its capital is Port Loko and the largest city is Lunsar...

 
Port Loko
Port Loko
Port Loko is the capital and second largest city of Port Loko District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The city lies about , as the crow flies, north-east of the nation's capital Freetown and had a population of 21,961 in the 2004 census Port Loko lies on Banka Soka River, which flows...

5,719 455,746 483,752
Tonkolili District
Tonkolili District
Tonkolili District is a district in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Magburaka. The other major towns include Mathora, Magbass, Yonibana and Mile 91...

 
Magburaka
Magburaka
Magburaka is the capital and largest city of Tonkolili District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. It is the second largest city in the Northern Province after Makeni and the 6th largest city in Sierra Leone with a population of 66,313 It is located at around , along the Rokel River...

7,003 347,197 370,425
Kambia District
Kambia District
Kambia District is a district in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Kambia. The other major towns include Morebaya, Kasirie, Kamassassa, Kukuna and Mange. The district has a population estimated at 304,357....

 
Kambia
Kambia, Sierra Leone
Kambia is the capital and largest town of Kambia District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The city is a major trading town and lies about 80 miles north of Freetown, and not far from the border with Guinea. The town had a population of 11,842 in the 2004 census, with a 2010 estimate...

3,108 270,462 299,725
Kenema District
Kenema District
Kenema District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Kenema, which is also the third largest city in Sierra Leone. The other major towns in the district include Tongo and Blama. The district is the most populous district in the Eastern province with...

 
Kenema
Kenema
Kenema is the third largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest city in the Eastern Province with a population of 128,402 in the 2004 census and a more recent estimate of 169,937...

6,053 Eastern Province
Eastern Province, Sierra Leone
Eastern Province is one of the four provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 15,553 km² and has a population of 1,187,532...

497,948 522,656
Kono District
Kono District
Kono District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Koidu Town. The other major towns in the district include Yengema, Tombodu, Motema, Jaiama-Nimokoro and Sewafe. Kono District is the largest diamond producer in Sierra Leone.The population of Kono...

 
Koidu Town  5,641 335,401
Kailahun District
Kailahun District
Kailahun District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Kailahun. The other major towns in the district include Segbwema, Koindu, Pendembu and Daru. As of 2010, the district has a population of 395,957 ....

 
Kailahun
Kailahun
Kailahun is the capital of Kailahun District in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. The town lies 300 miles east of Freetown and with a population of 25,210. The population of Kailahun is largely from the Mende ethnic group and the Mende language along with the Krio language are widely spoken...

 
3,859 358,190 389,253
Bo District
Bo District
Bo District is the second most populous district in Sierra Leone and is located in the Southern Province of the country. Its capital and largest city is the city of Bo, which is the second largest city in Sierra Leone. The other major towns in the district include Baoma, Bumpeh, Serabu, Sumbuya,...

 
Bo
Bo, Sierra Leone
Bo is the second largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest city in the Southern Province. It lies about 164 miles south-east of Freetown and had a population 149,957 in the 2004 census, with a current estimate is 231,494 . The city serve as the capital and administrative center of Bo District...

 
5,473.6 Southern Province
Southern Province, Sierra Leone
The Southern Province is one of three provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 19,694 km² and has a population of 1,377,067 . It consists of four districts . Its capital and administrative center is Bo, which is also the second largest and second most populated city in Sierra Leone...

463,668 527,131
Bonthe District
Bonthe District
Bonthe District comprises several islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwestern coast of Sierra Leone and a mainland area. Its capital is the town of Mattru Jong and the largest town in the district is Bonthe, on Sherbro Island and the town of Masabendu....

 
Mattru Jong
Mattru Jong
Mattru Jong commonly known as Mattru is a major fishing town on the mainland of Bonthe District in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. It is located along the Jong River, 52 miles southwest of Bo. It is the seat of the Jong Chiefdom, and home of Paramount Chief Alie Badara Sheriff III. The...

 
3,468 129,947 137,155
Pujehun District
Pujehun District
Pujehun District is a district in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital is the town of Pujehun . The other major towns in the district include Gandorhun, Zimmi, Bomi and Potoru.The district has a 2010 estimated population of 276,970....

 
Pujehun
Pujehun
Pujehun is a rural town in Pujehun District in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. The town is the capital and second largest city of the Pujehun District. The 1985 census gives pujehun a population of 3,859 with the population estimated to have grown to 9,121 in 2010. The Mende language along...

 
4,105 228,392 262,073
Moyamba District
Moyamba District
Moyamba District is a district in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone with a population of 260,910 in the 2004 census. Its capital and largest city is Moyamba. The other major towns include Njala, Rotifunk and Shenge...

 
Moyamba
Moyamba
Moyamba is the capital and largest city of Moyamba District, in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, with a population of 11,485 in the 2004 census. The city is about 48 miles southeast of the capital, Freetown. The population of the city is ethnically diverse although the Mende people make up...

 
6,902 260,910
Western Area Urban District
Western Area Urban District
The Western Area Urban District is one of the 14 Districts of Sierra Leone. It is by far the most populous district in the country with a population of 1,173,022 and is located in the Western Area. The Western Area Urban District comprises Freetown, the nation's capital and its urban suburbs...

 
Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

 
3,568 Western Area 1,272,873 1,473,873
Western Area Rural District
Western Area Rural District
The Western Area Rural District is one of the 14 Districts of Sierra Leone. It is located in the Western Area of the country and has an estimated population of 174,249...

 
Waterloo
Waterloo, Sierra Leone
Waterloo is the second largest city in the Western Area of Sierra Leone and a suburb of Freetown. The population of Waterloo was estimated at 19,750 in 2006. Waterloo lies just 18 miles east of Freetown -Socio-historical perspectives:...

 
4,175 174,249 205,400

Economy

Sierra Leone is slowly emerging from a protracted civil war and is showing signs of a successful transition. Investor
Investor
An investor is a party that makes an investment into one or more categories of assets --- equity, debt securities, real estate, currency, commodity, derivatives such as put and call options, etc...

 and consumer confidence
Consumer confidence
Consumer confidence is an economic indicator which measures the degree of optimism that consumers feel about the overall state of the economy and their personal financial situation. How confident people feel about stability of their incomes determines their spending activity and therefore serves as...

 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
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

, 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
Export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

.

Annual production of Sierra Leone's diamond estimates range between $250–300 million US$. Some of that is smuggled
Smuggling
Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

, where it is possibly used for money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

 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 (DACDF
Ministry of Mineral Resources (Sierra Leone)
The Ministry of Mineral Resources Sierra Leone is located on the 5th Floor Youyi Building, Brookfields, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Further to this the MMR Geological Surveys Department can be found at the New England estate, also in Freetown...

), 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 also known for its blood diamonds that were mined and sold to diamond conglomerates during the civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

, in order to buy the weapons that fuelled the atrocities of the civil war. In the 1970s and early 1980s, economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

 rate slowed because of a decline in the mining sector and increasing corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 among government officials.
style="font-size: 115%;" | Percentage of GDP by sector (2007)
Rank Sector Percentage of GDP
1 Agriculture 58.5
2 Other Services 10.4
3 Trade and tourism 9.5
4 Wholesale and retail trade 9.0
5 Mining and quarrying 4.5
6 Government Services 4.0
7 Manufacturing and handicrafts 2.0
8 Construction 1.7
9 Electricity and water 0.4


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
Rutile
Rutile is a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide, TiO2.Rutile is the most common natural form of TiO2. Two rarer polymorphs of TiO2 are known:...

, a titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 ore used as paint
Paint
Paint is any liquid, liquefiable, or mastic composition which after application to a substrate in a thin layer is converted to an opaque solid film. One may also consider the digital mimicry thereof...

 pigment and welding
Welding
Welding is a fabrication or sculptural process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. This is often done by melting the workpieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material that cools to become a strong joint, with pressure sometimes...

 rod coatings. Sierra Rutile Limited, owned by a consortium of United States and European investors, began commercial mining operations near the city of Bonthe
Bonthe
Bonthe is a town located on Sherbro Island in Bonthe District of the southern Province of Sierra Leone. The town had a population of 9,535 in the 2004 census, with a current estimate of 10,206. In colonial times it used to be a major trading centre for piassava and other agricultural products...

, 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
Bauxite
Bauxite is an aluminium ore and is the main source of aluminium. This form of rock consists mostly of the minerals gibbsite Al3, boehmite γ-AlO, and diaspore α-AlO, in a mixture with the two iron oxides goethite and hematite, the clay mineral kaolinite, and small amounts of anatase TiO2...

 mining operations were suspended when rebels invaded the mining sites in 1995, but exports resumed in 2005. The new Mines and Minerals Act was passed by Parliament in November 2009, which aimed to improve concessions management in the Ministry of Mineral Resources
Ministry of Mineral Resources (Sierra Leone)
The Ministry of Mineral Resources Sierra Leone is located on the 5th Floor Youyi Building, Brookfields, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Further to this the MMR Geological Surveys Department can be found at the New England estate, also in Freetown...

. Sierra Leone is an EITI candidate country.

About two-thirds of the population engages in subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

, which accounts for 52.5% of national income. The government is trying to increase food and cash crop
Cash crop
In agriculture, a cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit.The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family...

 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
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

, 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.

Sierra Leone’s currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 is the Leone
Sierra Leonean leone
-Banknotes:In 1964, the Bank of Sierra Leone introduced notes in denominations of 1, 2 and 5 leones. 50 cents notes were added in 1979, followed by 10 leones in 1980 and 20 leones in 1982...

. The central bank
Central bank
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

 of the country is the Bank of Sierra Leone
Bank of Sierra Leone
The Bank of Sierra Leone is the central bank of Sierra Leone. It issues the country's currency, known as the Leone. The bank formulates and implements monetary policy, including foreign exchange....

 which is located in the capital, Freetown. Sierra Leone operates a floating exchange rate
Exchange rate
In finance, an exchange rate between two currencies is the rate at which one currency will be exchanged for another. It is also regarded as the value of one country’s currency in terms of another currency...

 system, and foreign currencies can be exchanged at any of the commercial banks, recognised foreign exchange bureaux
Service bureau
A service bureau is a company which provides business services for a fee. The term has been extensively used to describe technology based services to financial services companies, particularly banks. Customers of service bureaus typically do not have the scale or expertise to incorporate these...

 and most hotel
Hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

s. Credit card
Credit card
A credit card is a small plastic card issued to users as a system of payment. It allows its holder to buy goods and services based on the holder's promise to pay for these goods and services...

 use is limited in Sierra Leone, though they may be used at some hotels and restaurant
Restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

s. There are a few internationally linked automated teller machine
Automated teller machine
An automated teller machine or automatic teller machine, also known as a Cashpoint , cash machine or sometimes a hole in the wall in British English, is a computerised telecommunications device that provides the clients of a financial institution with access to financial transactions in a public...

s that accept Visa cards in Freetown operated by ProCredit Bank.

Demographics

Sierra Leone had an estimated 2010 population of 5,245,695 and growth rate of 2.216 percent a year. The country's population is mostly young, with an estimated 41.7 percent under 15, and rural, with an estimated 62 percent of people living outside the cities. As a result of migration to cities the population is becoming more urban with an estimated rate of urbanisation growth of 2.9 percent a year. Population density varies greatly with the country. The Western Area Urban District
Western Area Urban District
The Western Area Urban District is one of the 14 Districts of Sierra Leone. It is by far the most populous district in the country with a population of 1,173,022 and is located in the Western Area. The Western Area Urban District comprises Freetown, the nation's capital and its urban suburbs...

, including Freetown, the capital and largest city, has a population density of 1,224 persons per square km whereas the largest district Koinadugu
Koinadugu District
Koinadugu District Is a District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. It is by far the largest District in Sierra Leone in geographical area. Its capital and largest city is Kabala, which is also one of the main cities in Northern Sierra Leone...

 has a density of 21.4 persons per square km. Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 in Sierra Leone is 41 years.

Although English is the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

, spoken at schools, government administration and the media, Krio
Krio language
Sierra Leone Krio is the lingua franca and the de facto national language spoken throughout the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Krio is spoken by 97% of Sierra Leone's population and unites the different ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction with each...

 (derived from English and several indigenous African languages), the language 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 97% of the country's population and unites all the different ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s, especially in their trade and interaction with each other. 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
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 over the course of 2007. Of the refugees remaining in Sierra Leone nearly all were Liberian.
The populations quoted above for the five largest cities are from the 2004 census. Other figures are estimates from the source cited. Different sources give different estimates. Some claim that Magburaka
Magburaka
Magburaka is the capital and largest city of Tonkolili District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. It is the second largest city in the Northern Province after Makeni and the 6th largest city in Sierra Leone with a population of 66,313 It is located at around , along the Rokel River...

 should be included in the above list, but one source estimates the population at only 14,915, whilst another puts it as high as 85,313. "Pandebu-Tokpombu" is presumably the extended town of Torgbonbu which had a population of 10,716 in the 2004 census, though "Gbendembu" had a larger population of 12,139 in that census. In the 2004 census, Waterloo had a population of 34,079.

Religion

Followers of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 are estimated to comprise 77% of Sierra Leone's population according to the US Department of State, with about 21% followers of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and 2% of the population practising indigenous animist beliefs. The 2007 UNHCR's "Report on International Religious Freedom in Sierra Leone" estimated 60% Muslim, 20 to 30% Christian and 5 to 10% other beliefs, with many citizens practising a mixture of Islam and traditional indigenous religious beliefs or Christianity and traditional indigenous beliefs. The Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 estimates the Muslim population at 71.3% (4,059,000). Muslims predominate in all of the country's three provinces and the Western Area, though formerly they were concentrated in the north with the south being mainly Christian. Another estimate puts Christianity in Sierra Leone at 30% of the population, with Islam at 60% and indigenous beliefs at 10%. http://www.containersofhope.com/sierra-leone.html.

The constitution of Sierra Leone provides for freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 and the government generally protects this right and does not tolerate its abuse.

Ethnic groups

Sierra Leone government is home to about sixteen ethnic groups, each with its own language and custom. Unlike most African nations, Sierra Leone has no serious ethnic divisions and no serious religious divisions. People often married across tribal and religious boundaries.

The largest and most dominant groups are the Temne at 35% http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5475.htm and the Mende
Mende people
The Mende people are one of the two largest and most dominant ethnic group in Sierra Leone, along with the Temne. The Mende make up 30% of Sierra Leone's total population or 1,932,015 members...

 at 31% http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5475.htm. The Temne predominate in the Northern Province
Northern Province, Sierra Leone
The Northern Province is one of the four provincial divisions of Sierra Leone. It comprises five Districts and covers an area of 35,936 km² and with a population of 1,718,240 . Its administrative and economic center is Makeni...

. The Mende likewise predominate in the South
Southern Province, Sierra Leone
The Southern Province is one of three provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 19,694 km² and has a population of 1,377,067 . It consists of four districts . Its capital and administrative center is Bo, which is also the second largest and second most populated city in Sierra Leone...

-Eastern
Eastern Province, Sierra Leone
Eastern Province is one of the four provinces of Sierra Leone. It covers an area of 15,553 km² and has a population of 1,187,532...

 Provinces. The Mende, who are believed to be descendants of the Mane, were originally in the Liberian hinterland. They began moving into Sierra Leone slowly and peacefully in the eighteenth century. The Temne are believed to have come from Futa Jallon, which is in present-day Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

. Sierra Leone's national politics centres on the competition between the north-west, dominated by the Temne, and the south-east dominated by the Mende.

The third-largest ethnic group are the Limba
Limba people (Sierra Leone)
The Limba people is a major ethnic group in the Republic of Sierra Leone. They form the third largest ethnic group in the country, about 8.5% of Sierra Leone's total population ....

 at 8.5% of the population. The Limba are native
Native
The term "native" can have many different social and political connotations in different contexts. In some cases it is a neutral, descriptive term, for example, when stating that one is a native of a particular city or that a certain language is one's native language...

 people of Sierra Leone. They have no tradition of origin and they have always lived in Sierra Leone since it was discovered. The Limba are primarily found in Northern Sierra Leone and they seen as an ally of the Temne. Sierra Leone's first president Siaka Stevens
Siaka Stevens
Siaka Probyn Stevens was the 3rd prime minister of Sierra Leone from 1967–1971 and the 1st president of Sierra Leone from 1971–1985. Stevens is generally criticised for dictatorial methods of government in which many of his political opponents were executed, as well as for mismanaging...

 and the country's second president Joseph Saidu Momoh
Joseph Saidu Momoh
Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh was the President of Sierra Leone from November, 1985 to April 29, 1992.- Biography :...

 are ethnic Limba.

The fourth largest ethnic group are the Fula
Fula people
Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese North Africa...

 at around (8%) of the population (descendants of 17th- and 18th-century Fulani settlers from the Fouta Djalon region of Guinea); they live primarily in the northeast and the western area of Sierra Leone. The Fula are primarily traders and many live in middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 homes. Because of their trading, the Fulas are found in virtually all parts of the country. Some notable ethnic Fula include Sierra Leone's current chief justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh
Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh
Haja Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh is the current Chief Justice of Sierra Leone. She was sworn in as Sierra Leone's new Chief Justice on January 26, 2008 after being appointed by president Ernest Bai Koroma with the approval of the Sierra Leone Parliament to replace outgoing Chief Justice Ade Renner Thomas...

.

The fifth-largest ethnic group are the Mandingo
Mandinka people
The Mandinka, Malinke are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa with an estimated population of eleven million ....

 (also known as Mandinka) at 7% (they are the descendants of the Mandinka
Mandinka people
The Mandinka, Malinke are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa with an estimated population of eleven million ....

 traders
Merchant
A merchant is a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit.Merchants can be one of two types:# A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant...

 from Guinea, who immigrated to Sierra Leone between 1840 to about 1898). The Mandinka are predominantly found in the east and the northern part of the country, and they are the largest inhabitant of the large towns, most notably Kabal
Kabala, Sierra Leone
Kabala is the capital and largest town of Koinadugu District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, with a population of 14,108 in the 2004 census, and a current estimate of 18,770 Kabala is one of the main cities in northern Sierra Leone and is set in a rural landscape...

 and Falaba
Falaba
Falaba is a former town in the Solima area, Koinadugu District of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The population of Falaba is largely from the Mandingo and Kuranko ethnic groups. The village is largely muslim.-History:...

 in Koinadugu District in the north and Yengema
Yengema
Yengema is the second largest town in Kono District in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, lying about 18 miles west of Koidu Town , and about 264 miles east of Freetown. The major industry in Yengema is diamond mining. The town had a population of 3,621 in the 2004 census, with a 2007 estimate...

, Kono District
Kono District
Kono District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Koidu Town. The other major towns in the district include Yengema, Tombodu, Motema, Jaiama-Nimokoro and Sewafe. Kono District is the largest diamond producer in Sierra Leone.The population of Kono...

 in the east of the country. Some notable Mandinka includes Sierra Leone's third president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah served as President of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2007.He worked for the United Nations Development Programme and returned to Sierra Leone in 1992...

, former Sierra Leone's vice president Sorie Ibrahim Koroma
Sorie Ibrahim Koroma
Sorie Ibrahim Koroma commonly known as S.I. Koroma is a former Sierra Leonean politician, labor activist and one of the founding members of the All People's Congress , one of Sierra Leone's most dominant political party...

 and current Sierra Leone natural resources minister Minkailu Mansaray
Minkailu Mansaray
Minkailu Mansaray is a Sierra Leonean politician and the country's Minister of Labour, Employment and Social security. Mansaray had served as a member of the Parliament of Sierra Leone representing the Western Area Rural District in 2002-2005. He is a member of the Mandingo ethnic group.-External...

.

After the Mandinka, are the Kono
Kono people
The Kono people is a major ethnic group in Sierra Leone at about 7.6% of the country's total population. Their homeland is the diamond-rich Kono District in south-eastern Sierra Leone. They form by far the single largest ethnic group in the district at about 52% of the population...

, who live primarily in Kono District
Kono District
Kono District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Koidu Town. The other major towns in the district include Yengema, Tombodu, Motema, Jaiama-Nimokoro and Sewafe. Kono District is the largest diamond producer in Sierra Leone.The population of Kono...

 in Eastern Sierra Leone. The Kono are descendants from Guinea. The Kono are primarily farmers and diamond miners. Some notable ethnic Kono include current Sierra Leone vice president Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana
Samuel Sam-Sumana
Alhaji Sahr Samuel Sam-Sumana is a Sierra Leonean politician, and the current Vice President of Sierra Leone...

 and current Sierra Leone's first lady
First Lady
First Lady or First Gentlemanis the unofficial title used in some countries for the spouse of an elected head of state.It is not normally used to refer to the spouse or partner of a prime minister; the husband or wife of the British Prime Minister is usually informally referred to as prime...

 Sia Nyama Koroma
Sia Koroma
Sia Nyama Koroma is a Sierra Leonean biochemist and psychiatric nurse. She is the wife of Sierra Leone's president Ernest Bai Koroma and the daughter of former Sierra Leone's attorney general Abu Aiah Koroma...

. The Kono are about split between Muslims and Christians.

Behind the Kono, are the Creole (at 5%) (descendants of freed slaves from the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 which landed in Freetown between 1787 and about 1885) are primarily found in the capital city of Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

 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
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 and ideals.

Much smaller ethnic groups are the Kuranko
Kuranko people
The Kuranko, also known as the Koranko, are an ethnic group living in Sierra Leone and Guinea. The Koranko occupy a large section in mountainous region within northeastern Sierra Leone and southern Guinea . Within this geographical region, different dialects, as well as distinct social groupings...

, who are related to the Mandingo. The Kuranko are believed to have begun arriving in Sierra Leone from Guinea in about 1600 and settle in the north. The Loko
Loko people
The Loko are one of the indigenous ethnic groups in Sierra Leone. They speak a Mande language that is also called Loko. The majority of the Loko people live in or around the capital city of Freetown and in the Northern Province of the country, particularly in Port Loko District. The Loko were among...

 in the north are native people of Sierra Leone and they have lived in Sierra Leone since it was discovered. The Susu
Susu people
The Soso are a major Mande ethnic group living primarily in Guinea. Smaller communities are also located in the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone, Senegal and Mali. The Susu are descendants of the thirteenth century Mali Empire...

 and Yalunka
Yalunka people
The Yalunka are a Mande people who were one of the original inhabitants of the Futa Jallon , a mountainous region in Guinea, West Africa and they are a branch of the Mandinka people of West Africa. Today, the Yalunka are concentrated mostly in Guinea and Sierra Leone...

 in the far north in Kambia District
Kambia District
Kambia District is a district in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Kambia. The other major towns include Morebaya, Kasirie, Kamassassa, Kukuna and Mange. The district has a population estimated at 304,357....

 around the border with Guinea are related people and they are both descendants from Guinea. The Kissi
Kissi people
Kissi people is an ethnic group living in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. They speak the Kissi language, which is a Niger–Congo language. They are well known for making baskets and weaving on vertical looms.-Economy:...

 and the much smaller group of Vai
Vai (ethnic group)
The Vai are a Manden ethnic group that live mostly in Liberia and small minority live in south-eastern Sierra Leone. The Vai are known for their indigenous syllabic writing system, developed in the 1820s by Duala Bukele and other tribal elders. Over the course of the 19th century, literacy in the...

, (who are largely Muslim) are further inland in Kailahun District
Kailahun District
Kailahun District is a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Its capital and largest city is Kailahun. The other major towns in the district include Segbwema, Koindu, Pendembu and Daru. As of 2010, the district has a population of 395,957 ....

 in the East next to the border with Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

. On the coast
Coast
A coastline or seashore is the area where land meets the sea or ocean. A precise line that can be called a coastline cannot be determined due to the dynamic nature of tides. The term "coastal zone" can be used instead, which is a spatial zone where interaction of the sea and land processes occurs...

 in Bonthe District
Bonthe District
Bonthe District comprises several islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwestern coast of Sierra Leone and a mainland area. Its capital is the town of Mattru Jong and the largest town in the district is Bonthe, on Sherbro Island and the town of Masabendu....

 in the south are the Sherbro
Sherbro people
The Sherbro people are a native people of Sierra Leone, who speak the Sherbro language; they make up 3% of Sierra Leone's population or about 201,000. They are also known as the Bullom people...

, who are native people of Sierra Leone and have settled in Sherbro island
Sherbro Island
Sherbro Island, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, located in Bonthe District off the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. The Sherbro make up by far the largest ethnic group in the island....

 since it was founded.
In the past, Sierra Leoneans were noted for their education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

al achievements, trading activity, entrepreneurial skills, and arts and craft
Craft
A craft is a branch of a profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work. In historical sense, particularly as pertinent to the Medieval history and earlier, the term is usually applied towards people occupied in small-scale production of goods.-Development from the past until...

s work, particularly wood carving
Wood carving
Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object...

. 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
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 has declined sharply over the last 30 years.

List of Sierra Leoneans

Education and health

Education in Sierra Leone is legally required for all children for six years at primary level
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 (Class P1-P6) and three years in junior secondary education
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

, but a shortage of schools and teachers has made implementation impossible. Two thirds of the adult population of the country are illiterate. The Sierra Leone Civil War
Sierra Leone Civil War
The Sierra Leone Civil War began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front , with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia , intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government...

 resulted in the destruction of 1,270 primary schools and in 2001 67 percent of all school-age children were out of school. The situation has improved considerably since then with primary school enrolment doubling between 2001 and 2005 and the reconstruction of many schools since the end of the war. Students at primary schools are usually 6 to 12 years old, and in secondary schools 13 to 18. Primary education is free and compulsory
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

 in government-sponsored public schools.

The country has three universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

: Fourah Bay College
Fourah Bay College
Fourah Bay College is the oldest university college in West Africa. It is located atop Mount Aureol in Freetown, Sierra Leone...

, founded in 1827 (the oldest university in West Africa), University of Makeni (established initially in September 2005 as The Fatima Institute, the college was granted university status in August 2009, and assumed the name University of Makeni, or UNIMAK), and Njala University
Njala University
Njala University is a major Sierra Leonean university located in the country's second largest city of Bo and the town of Njala, Moyamba District, Sierra Leone...

, primarily located in Bo District
Bo District
Bo District is the second most populous district in Sierra Leone and is located in the Southern Province of the country. Its capital and largest city is the city of Bo, which is the second largest city in Sierra Leone. The other major towns in the district include Baoma, Bumpeh, Serabu, Sumbuya,...

. Njala University was established as the Njala Agricultural Experimental Station in 1910 and became a university in 2005. Teacher training colleges and religious seminaries are found in many parts of the country.

Health care is provided by the government and others. Since April 2010, the government has instituted the Free Health Care Initiative which commits to free services for pregnant and lactating women and children under 5. This policy has been supported by increased aid from the United Kingdom and is recognised as a progressive move that other African countries may follow. The country has a very high infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

 and a very low life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

. The maternal death
Maternal death
Maternal death, or maternal mortality, also "obstetrical death" is the death of a woman during or shortly after a pregnancy. In 2010, researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, estimated global maternal mortality in 2008 at 342,900 , of...

 rates are also the highest in the world, at 2,000 deaths per 100,000 live births. The country suffers from epidemic
Epidemic
In epidemiology, an epidemic , occurs when new cases of a certain disease, in a given human population, and during a given period, substantially exceed what is expected based on recent experience...

 outbreaks of diseases including yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

, cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

, lassa fever
Lassa fever
Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and first described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria, in the Yedseram river valley at the south end of Lake Chad. Clinical cases of the disease had been known for over a decade but had not been connected...

 and meningitis
Meningitis
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs...

. 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
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

.

During the Civil War (1991–2002)
Sierra Leone Civil War
The Sierra Leone Civil War began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front , with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia , intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government...

 many soldiers took part in atrocities and many clildren were forced to fight. This left them traumatised with an estimated 400.000 people (by 2009) being mentally ill. Also thousands of former child soldiers have fallen into substance abuse as they try to blunt their memories. Mental helthcare in the counrty is almost non existing with many patients trying to cure themselves with the help of traditional healers.

Military

The Military of Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), are the unified armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 of Sierra Leone responsible for the territorial security of Sierra Leone's border
Border
Borders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, such as governments, sovereign states, federated states and other subnational entities. Some borders—such as a state's internal administrative borders, or inter-state borders within the Schengen Area—are open and...

 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
Royal West African Frontier Force
The West African Frontier Force was a multi-battalion field force, formed by the British Colonial Office in 1900 to garrison the West African colonies of Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia. The decision to raise this force was taken in 1897 because of concern at French colonial...

 present in the country. The Sierra Leone Armed Forces currently consist of around 15,500 personnel, comprising the largest Sierra Leone Army, the Sierra Leone Navy and the Sierra Leone Air Wing. The president of Sierra Leone is the Commander in Chief of the military, with the Minister of Defence responsible for defence policy and the formulation of the armed forces. The current Sierra Leone Defence Minister is Ret
Retirement
Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.Many people choose to retire when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions don't allow the person to...

. Major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Alfred Paolo Conteh
Paolo Conteh
Alfred Paolo Conteh is a retired Major in the The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the current Defense Minister of Sierra Leone. He is also the nephew of former President of Sierra Leone, Joseph Saidu Momoh....

. 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. Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 Alfred Nelson-Williams
Alfred Nelson-Williams
Brigadier Alfred Claude Nelson-Williams of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces is a Sierra Leonean army officer and Chief of Defense Staff for Sierra Leone from 2008 to 2010...

 who was appointed by president Koroma succeeded the retired Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Edward Sam M’boma
Edward Sam M’boma
Edwin Sam - M’boma is a Sierra Leonean military commander. He is currently at the rank of Major General and is also the Chief of the Defence Staff of The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces. In February 2007, M'boma acted as spokesman for the RSLAF in declaring that no voting booths for the...

 on 12 September 2008 as the Chief of Defence Staff of the Military.

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
National Reformation Council
The National Reformation Council, or NRC, was a group of senior military officers with Brigadier Andrew Juxon-Smith as its chairman, who seized control of the Sierra Leone government on March 23, 1968...

 into power. On 19 April 1971, when Sierra Leone became a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, the Royal Sierra Leone Military Forces were renamed the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Force (RSLMF). 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).

Law enforcement

Law enforcement in Sierra Leone is primarily the responsibility of the Sierra Leone Police
Sierra Leone Police
The Sierra Leone Police locally known as Salone Police is the national police force of the Republic of Sierra Leone, responsible for law enforcement and crime investigation throughout Sierra Leone...

 (SLP). Sierra Leone Police was established by the British colony back in 1894 and is one of the oldest police forces in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. The key mission of the Sierra Leone Police include to prevent crime
Crime prevention
Crime prevention is the attempt to reduce victimization and to deter crime and criminals. It is applied specifically to efforts made by governments to reduce crime, enforce the law, and maintain criminal justice.-Studies:...

, to protect life and property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

, to detect and prosecute offenders, to maintain public order, to ensure safety
Safety
Safety is the state of being "safe" , the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be...

 and security
Security
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

, to enhance access to justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of 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
President of Sierra Leone
The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone is the head of state and the head of government of Sierra Leone, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces...

. Each one of Sierra Leone's 14 districts
Districts of Sierra Leone
||The provinces of Sierra Leone are divided into 14 districts. One traditional leader from each district occupies a seat in Sierra Leone's parliament...

 is headed by a District Police commissioner
Police commissioner
Commissioner is a senior rank used in many police forces and may be rendered Police Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. In some organizations, the commissioner is a political appointee, and may or may not actually be a professional police officer. In these circumstances, there is often a...

 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
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

. The current Inspector General of Police is Brima Acha Kamara
Brima Acha Kamara
- Mr. Francis Alieu Munu :- Mr. Francis Alieu Munu was appointed to his post on Friday 20th August 2010. Before his appointment, he was in- charge of Crime Services....

 who was appointed to the position by former president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah served as President of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2007.He worked for the United Nations Development Programme and returned to Sierra Leone in 1992...

.

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. There are 11,300 kilometres of highways in Sierra Leone, of which 904 km (562 mi) are paved (about 8% of the roads). Sierra Leone highways are linked to Conakry
Conakry
Conakry is the capital and largest city of Guinea. Conakry is a port city on the Atlantic Ocean and serves as the economic, financial and cultural centre of Guinea with a 2009 population of 1,548,500...

, Guinea
Guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

, and Monrovia
Monrovia
Monrovia is the capital city of the West African nation of Liberia. Located on the Atlantic Coast at Cape Mesurado, it lies geographically within Montserrado County, but is administered separately...

, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

. Sierra Leone has the largest natural harbour on the African continent, allowing international shipping through the Queen Elizabeth II Quay
Queen Elizabeth II Quay
Queen Elizabeth II Quay, also known as QE II Quay and by residents as the Deep Water Quay, is a locality in Freetown, Sierra Leone...

 in the Cline Town
Cline Town, Sierra Leone
Cline Town, Sierra Leone, which used to be known as Granville Town, was established in 1787 by the London-based Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor. They arranged for the transport of London's so-called Black Poor to Sierra Leone where they were amongst its original settlers...

 area of eastern Freetown or through Government Wharf in central Freetown. There are 800 km (497 mi) of waterways in Sierra Leone, of which 600 km (373 mi) are navigable year-round. Major port cities are Bonthe
Bonthe
Bonthe is a town located on Sherbro Island in Bonthe District of the southern Province of Sierra Leone. The town had a population of 9,535 in the 2004 census, with a current estimate of 10,206. In colonial times it used to be a major trading centre for piassava and other agricultural products...

, Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

, Sherbro Island
Sherbro Island
Sherbro Island, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, located in Bonthe District off the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. The Sherbro make up by far the largest ethnic group in the island....

 and Pepel
Pepel
Pepel is a coastal town in the Port Loko District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. - Railway :Pepel is connected by a gauge 84 km long railway to an iron ore mine at Marampa....

.

There are ten regional airports in Sierra Leone, and one international airport
International airport
An international airport is any airport that can accommodate flights from other countries and are typically equipped with customs and immigration facilities to handle these flights to and from other countries...

. The Lungi International Airport
Lungi International Airport
-Incidents and accidents:On August 11th, 2004 at around 2:30 p.m. a Boeing 737 plane operated by Air Guinee Express crashed while failing to take off at Lungi Airport. None of the 70 passengers aboard were killed....

 located in the coastal town of Lungi
Lungi, Sierra Leone
Lungi is a coastal town in Port Loko District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The town had a population of 4185 in the 2004 census , with a 2006 estimate of 7,720. It lies about 22 miles west of the district capital Port Loko, and is separated from Freetown by the Sierra Leone sea...

 in Northern Sierra Leone is the primary airport for domestic and international travel to or from Sierra Leone. Passengers cross the river to Aberdeen Heliport
Heliport
A heliport is a small airport suitable only for use by helicopters. Heliports typically contain one or more helipads and may have limited facilities such as fuel, lighting, a windsock, or even hangars...

s in Freetown by hovercraft
Hovercraft
A hovercraft is a craft capable of traveling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a "skirt." Although supported by air, a hovercraft is not considered an aircraft.Hovercraft are used throughout...

, ferry
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 or a helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

. Helicopters are also available from the airport to other major cities in the country. The airport has paved
Pavement (material)
Road surface or pavement is the durable surface material laid down on an area intended to sustain vehicular or foot traffic, such as a road or walkway. In the past cobblestones and granite setts were extensively used, but these surfaces have mostly been replaced by asphalt or concrete. Such...

 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. 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.

Drinking water supply

Water supply in Sierra Leone is characterized by limited access to safe drinking water. Despite efforts by the government and numerous non-governmental organizations, access has not much improved since the end of the Sierra Leone Civil War
Sierra Leone Civil War
The Sierra Leone Civil War began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front , with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia , intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government...

 in 2002, stagnating at about 50% and even declining in rural areas. In the capital Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

, taps often run dry. It is hoped that a new dam in Orugu, for which China committed financing in 2009, will alleviate water scarcity.

According to a national survey (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey
Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys are a survey program developed by the United Nations Children's Fund to provide internationally comparable, statistically rigorous data on the situation of children and women. The first round of surveys was carried out in over 60 countries in 1995 in...

) carried out in 2006, 84% of the urban population and 32% of the rural population had access to an improved water source
Improved water source
According to the Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation by the World Health Organization and UNICEF the following are considered as "improved" water sources:* household connections* public standpipes* boreholes* protected dug wells...

. Those with access in rural areas were served almost exclusively by protected wells. The 68% of the rural population without access to an improved water source relied on surface water (50%), unprotected wells (9%) and unprotected springs (9%). Only 20% of the urban population and 1% of the rural population had access to piped drinking water in their home. Compared to the 2000 survey access has increased in urban areas, but has declined in rural areas, possibly because facilities have broken down because of a lack of maintenance.

With a new decentralization policy, embodied in the Local Government Act of 2004, responsibility for water supply in areas outside the capital was passed from the central government to local councils. In Freetown the Guma Valley Water Company remains in charge of water supply.

Food and food customs

Rice is the staple food of Sierra Leone and is consumed at virtually every meal daily. The rice is prepared numerous ways, and topped with a variety of sauces made from some of Sierra Leone's favorite toppings, including potato leaves, cassava leaves, Crancran, hot peppers, peanuts, beans, okra sup, fish, beef, chicken, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes and chicken bones, which are a delicacy, because their brittle nature makes the sweet marrow inside easily accessible.

Along the street one can find snacks such as fresh mangoes, oranges, pineapple, or papaya, fried plantains, potato or cassava chunks with pepper sauce, small bags of popcorn or peanuts, bread, roasted corn, or skewers of grilled meat or shrimp. Local bars in some towns and villages will also sell poyo the sweet, lightly fermented palm wine tapped from the high tops of palm trees. Poyo bars can be areas of lively informal debate and conversation among men.

Ceremonial occasions such as weddings, funerals, initiations, and memorial services demand the preparation of large platters of rice, distributed to guests. Depending on the occasion, a portion may also be offered to the ancestors, to honor their memory. Another common practice in this sense is to pour liquor in the ancestors' honor in the corners of a house. Other food traditions vary with region or religion: Mende Muslims, for instance, will mark a burial ceremony with lehweh, a ball of rice flour mixed with water and sugar, served with a kola nut on top.

The arts

The arts in Sierra Leone are a mixture of tradition and hybrid African and western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 styles.

Sports



Football 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
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 but participated in the 1994
1994 African Cup of Nations
-Group B:---------Group C:---------Group D:---------Knockout Stages:-Quarterfinals:-------------Semifinals:-----Third place playoff:-Final:-Scorers:5 goals Rashidi Yekini4 goals Joël Tiéhi...

 and 1996 African Cup of Nations
1996 African Cup of Nations
-Group B:---------------------Group C:------------ withdrew, so their three matches were canceled.*vs. , January 16, 1996*vs. , January 19, 1996*vs...

. 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
Mohamed Kallon
Mohamed Kallon is a Sierra Leonean international footballer and considered the most famous footballer from Sierra Leone. He is currently playing for I-League club Viva Kerala FC-Personal life:...

, Julius Gibrilla Woobay
Julius Wobay
Julius Gibrilla Wobay nickname Gibo, is a Sierra Leonean International footballer. He is a striker for Khazar Lankaran in the Azerbaijan Premier League and for the Leone Stars, Sierra Leone national football team. He signed with Khazar Lankaran on a two year contract...

, Al Bangura, Paul Kpaka
Paul Kpaka
Paul Kpaka is a Sierre Leonean footballer. He is a striker who last played for Germinal Beerschot in the Belgian first division. His contract with the club ran out on 1 July 2010.- Early life :...

, Rodney Strasser
Rodney Strasser
Rodney Strasser is a Sierra Leonean professional footballer who plays as midfielder for Serie A club Lecce, on loan from Milan.- Club career :...

, Mohamed Bangura
Mohamed Bangura
Mohamed Bangura is a former Olympic boxer from Sierra Leone. He represented his native country in the 1980 Summer Olympics, which were held in the Soviet Union capital of Moscow...

, Teteh Bangura
Teteh Bangura
Ibrahim "Teteh" Bangura is a Sierra Leonean footballer. He currently plays for Bursaspor in Süper Lig.-Kallon F.C.:Bangura began his career in his native Sierra Leone, playing with F.C. Kallon...

, Ahmed Deen
Ahmed Deen
Ahmed Deen is a Sierra Leonean international footballer who plays for Cambridge City. He is the first choice left back for the Sierra Leone national football team....

, Samuel Barlay
Samuel Barlay
Samuel Barlay nickname Big Sammy, is a Sierra Leonean international footballer, who currently plays for Ravan Baku.-Early career:Samuel Barlay was born and raised in Freetown...

, Kewullay Conteh
Kewullay Conteh
Kewullay Conteh is a Sierra Leonean footballer currently playing for Serie B side Piacenza. He is also a first choice defender for the Leone Stars, Sierra Leone national football team...

 ex Stevenage player Denzil Conteh, Albert Jarrett
Albert Jarrett
Albert Ojumiri Jarrett is a Sierra Leonean international footballer who plays his football in England. A winger, he has played in all of the top five levels of English football....

 and Kei Kamara
Kei Kamara
Kei Kamara is a Sierra Leonean footballer who currently plays for Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer.-Early life:Kamara was born and raised in Kenema, Sierra Leone's third largest city to Temne parents...



The Sierra Leone National Premier League
Sierra Leone National Premier League
Sierra Leone National Premier League is the top football league in Sierra Leone. It was founded in 1967. The league is sponsored by the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, one of the major Sierra Leonean banks. East End Lions and Mighty Blackpool are the two biggest and most successful clubs. The...

 is the top football league, controlled by the Sierra Leone Football Association
Sierra Leone Football Association
The Sierra Leone Football Association is the governing body of football in Sierra Leone. It was founded in 1967, and affiliated to FIFA the same year. It is also a member of the Confederation of African Football from 1987. It organizes the national football league and the national team...

. The two biggest and most successful football clubs are East End Lions
East End Lions
East End Lions is a Sierra Leonean professional football club based in the capital Freetown. They play in the Sierra Leone National Premier League, the top football league in Sierra Leone. they are one of the two biggest and most successful football clubs in Sierra Leonean football history;East...

 and Mighty Blackpool
Mighty Blackpool
Mighty Blackpool is a Sierra Leonean football club based in the capital Freetown. They play in the Sierra Leone National Premier League, the top football league in the country. Blackpool represent the West End of Freetown and their home games are played at the National Stadium in Freetown...

, but Kallon F.C.
Kallon F.C.
Kallon Football Club commonly known as F.C. Kallon, formerly Sierra Fisheries, is a Sierra Leonean football club based in Freetown. The club is one of the top clubs in the Sierra Leone National Premier League and play their home games at the National Stadium in Freetown.-History:The club is named...

 has enjoyed contemporary success. Kallon F.C. won the Premier League and the Sierra Leonean FA Cup
Sierra Leonean FA Cup
Sierra Leone FA Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is the national knockout cup competition in Sierra Leone. It was established in 1967. The competition is run by the Sierra Leone Football Association...

 in 2006, and eliminated 2006 Nigerian Premier League
Nigerian Premier League
The Nigeria Premier League is the highest level of domestic Nigerian football. It is fed into by the two First Division groups: the Nigerian Division 1-A and Nigerian Division 1-B. It is organized by the Nigeria Football Association. The NPL Chairman is Davidson Owunmi.- History :The league was...

 Champions Ocean Boys FC in the 2007 CAF Champions League
CAF Champions League
The CAF Champions League is an annual international club football competition run by the Confederation of African Football . The top club sides from Africa's football leagues are invited to participate in this competition, which is the premier club football competition on the continent and the...

 first qualifying round, but later lost to ASEC Mimosas
ASEC Mimosas
The Académie Sportive des Employés de Commerce Mimosas is an Ivorian football club based in Abidjan. The club is also known as ASEC Mimosas Abidjan and ASEC Abidjan, especially in international club competitions. Founded in 1948, they are the most successful side in Ivorian football, having won...

 of Ivory Coast in the second qualifying round for the group stage.

The Sierra Leone U-17 football team, nickname
Nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

d the Sierra Stars, finished as runner-up at the 2003 African U-17 Championship in Swaziland
Swaziland
Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland , and sometimes called Ngwane or Swatini, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique...

, but came in last place in their group at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship
2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship
The FIFA U-17 World Championship 2003 was held in the cities of Helsinki, Tampere, Lahti, and Turku in Finland between 13 August and 30 August 2003...

 in Finland.

The Sierra Leone cricket team
Sierra Leone cricket team
The Sierra Leone cricket team is the team that represents the country of Sierra Leone in international cricket matches. They became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council in 2002. They made their international debut at the 2004 African Affiliates Championship, where they finished...

 represents Sierra Leone in international cricket competitions, and is among the best in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. It became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council
International Cricket Council
The International Cricket Council is the international governing body of cricket. It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from England, Australia and South Africa, renamed the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1989.The...

 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
Runner-up
Runner-up is a term used to denote a participant which finishes in second place in any of a variety of competitive endeavors, most notably sporting events and beauty pageants; in the latter instance, the term is applied to more than one of the highest-ranked non-winning contestants, the...

 to Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

, and just missed a promotion to Division Two.

In 2009 the Sierra Leone Under-19 team finished second in the African Under-19 Championship in Zambia, thus qualifying for the Under-19 World Cup qualifying tournament with nine other teams. However, the team was unable to obtain Canadian visas to play in the tournament, which was held in Toronto.

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.

Media

Media in Sierra Leone began with the introduction of the first printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 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
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 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
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

, partially due to the low levels of literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 in the country. In 2007 there were 15 daily newspapers in the country, as well as those published weekly. 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.

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. These levels do vary between areas of the country, with the Western Area having the highest levels and Kailahun
Kailahun
Kailahun is the capital of Kailahun District in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. The town lies 300 miles east of Freetown and with a population of 25,210. The population of Kailahun is largely from the Mende ethnic group and the Mende language along with the Krio language are widely spoken...

 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
FM broadcasting
FM broadcasting is a broadcasting technology pioneered by Edwin Howard Armstrong which uses frequency modulation to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. The term "FM band" describes the "frequency band in which FM is used for broadcasting"...

 and short-wave. FM relays of BBC World Service
BBC World Service
The BBC World Service is the world's largest international broadcaster, broadcasting in 27 languages to many parts of the world via analogue and digital shortwave, internet streaming and podcasting, satellite, FM and MW relays...

, Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale was created in 1975 as part of Radio France by the Government of France, and replaced the Poste Colonial , Paris Mondial , Radio Paris , RTF Radio Paris and ORTF Radio Paris...

 and Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

 are also broadcast.

Outside the capital Freetown television is not watched by a great many people. There are two national, free terrestrial television
Terrestrial television
Terrestrial television is a mode of television broadcasting which does not involve satellite transmission or cables — typically using radio waves through transmitting and receiving antennas or television antenna aerials...

 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
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

, and freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

; 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. Under legislation enacted in 1980, all newspapers must register with the Ministry of Information and pay sizeable registration fees. The Criminal Libel Law, including Seditious Libel Law of 1965, is used to control what is published in the media. In 2006, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah served as President of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2007.He worked for the United Nations Development Programme and returned to Sierra Leone in 1992...

 committed to reforming the laws governing the press and media to create a freer system for journalists to work in, 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.

See also

  • Alexander Falconbridge
    Alexander Falconbridge
    Alexander Falconbridge was a British surgeon on four voyages in slave ships between 1780 and 1787 before meeting the anti-slavery campaigner, Thomas Clarkson and becoming a member of the Anti-Slavery Society . After meeting Thomas Clarkson, he published in 1788 An Account of the Slave Trade on...

  • Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

  • Paul Cuffee
  • Stephen Rapp
    Stephen Rapp
    Stephen J. Rapp is an American lawyer and is currently United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues.-Career:...



Primary sources

  • Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007). Sarah Crichton Books: New York. Link: A Long Way Gone

Further reading

  • Nicol, Davidson, Regionalism and the New International Economic Order; UNITAR-CEESTEM-Club of Rome conference at the United Nations, Pergamon Press, 1981.
  • 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.

External links

Government

General information

News media
  • Awareness Times Newspaper
  • The New People The New People Newspaper
  • Sierra Eye Sierra Leone News Portal
  • News headline links from AllAfrica.com
    AllAfrica.com
    AllAfrica.com is a website that aggregates news produced primarily on the African continent about all areas of African life, politics, issues and culture. It is available in both English and French and produced by AllAfrica Global Media, which has offices in Cape Town, Dakar, Lagos, Monrovia,...

  • Sierra Leone News & Blog Current Sierra Leone News & Blog
  • Sierra Leone world News headline, information and analysis

Tourism
Telecommunication
Other
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