Republic of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Motto: "Unity, Freedom, Justice"
Anthem: High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free
Location of Sierra Leone
Capital
and largest city
Freetown
Official languagesEnglish
National languageKrio (de facto) spoken by 95% of the population[1][2]
Demonym(s)Sierra Leonean
GovernmentConstitutional republic
• President
Ernest Bai Koroma (APC)
Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana (APC)
Abel Nathaniel Bankole Stronge (APC)
Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh
LegislatureHouse of Parliament of Sierra Leone
Independence
• from the United Kingdom
27 April 1961
• Republic declared
19 April 1971
Area
• Total
71,740 km2 (27,700 sq mi) (119th)
• Water (%)
1.1
Population
• July 2010 estimate
6.2 million [5]
• Density
79.4/km2 (205.6/sq mi) (114th1)
GDP (PPP)2009 estimate
• Total
$4.585 billion[3]
• Per capita
$759[3]
GDP (nominal)2009 estimate
• Total
$1.877 billion[3]
• Per capita
$311[3]
Gini (2003)62.9
very high
HDI (2007)Increase 0.365
Error: Invalid HDI value (158th)
CurrencyLeone (SLL)
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
Driving sideright
Calling code232
ISO 3166 codeSL
Internet TLD.sl
1 Rank based on 2007 figures.

Sierra Leone (/[invalid input: 'En-us-Sierra Leone.ogg']sˌɛrə lˈn/; Krio: Salone), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in west Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi)[4] and has a population estimated 6.2 million [6] . It began as an independent colony under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Company on March 11, 1792 and became a British colony in 1808. Sierra Leone is now a constitutional republic comprising three provinces and the Western Area; which are further divided into fourteen districts.

The country has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests.[5] Freetown is the capital, largest city and economic and financial center. The other major cities are Bo, Kenema, Koidu Town and Makeni.[4]

Sierra Leone is rich in mineral resources, possessing some of the rarest and most valuable mineral types in the world, many of which are found in significant quantities. The country has relied on mining, especially diamonds, 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 and bauxite, and a major producer of gold. The country has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile. Despite this natural wealth, the vast majority of its people live in poverty.

Sierra Leone is a predominant Muslim nation, though with a significant Christian minority. The country is home to about sixteen ethnic groups, each with it own language and costume. The two largest and most influential are the Mende and Temne. Unlike most African nations, Sierra Leone has no serious ethnic or religious divisions. People often married across tribal and religious boundaries.

Early inhabitants of Sierra Leone included the Sherbro, Temne and Limba, and Tyra[disambiguation needed] peoples, and later the Mende,[6] who knew the country as Romarong, and the Kono who settled in the east of the country.[7] In 1462, it was visited by the Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra, who dubbed it Serra de Leão, meaning "Lion Mountains".[8][9]

Sierra Leone later became an important centre of the transatlantic trade in slaves until March 11, 1792 when Freetown was founded by the Sierra Leone Company as a home for formerly enslaved African Americans.[10] In 1808, Freetown became a British Crown Colony, and in 1896, the interior of the country became a British Protectorate;[7] in 1961, the two combined and gained independence.

The Sierra Leone Civil War[11] began in 1991 and resolved in 2000 after the struggling Nigerian-led United Nations troops were heavily reinforced by a British force spearheaded by 1st Bn The Parachute Regiment, supported by other elements of the Parachute Regt, SAS, and Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Operation Palliser. The arrival of this force, code-named Operation Palliser, resulted in the defeat of rebel forces and restored the civilian government elected in 1998 to Freetown. Since then, almost 72,500 former combatants have been disarmed[12] and the country has reestablished a functioning democracy.[2] The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was sworn in on 17 September 2007.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up in 2002 to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 1996.[13] Sierra Leone is the twelfth-lowest-ranked country on the Human Development Index and eighth-lowest on the Human Poverty Index, suffering from endemic corruption[14] and suppression of the press.[15]

History

Main article: History of Sierra Leone

Early history

Fragments of prehistoric pottery from Kamabai Rock Shelter

Archaeological finds show that Sierra Leone has been inhabited continuously for at least 2,500 years,[16] populated by successive movements from other parts of Africa.[17] The use of iron was introduced to Sierra Leone by the 9th century, and by AD 1000 agriculture was being practiced by coastal tribes.[18] Sierra Leone's dense tropical rainforest largely protected it from the influence of any precolonial African empires[19] and from further Islamic influence of the Songhai Empire, the Islamic faith however became common in the 18th century.[20]

European contacts within Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. In 1462, Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra mapped the hills surrounding what is now Freetown Harbour, naming shaped formation Serra de Leão (Portuguese for Lion Mountains).[9] The Italian rendering of this geographic formation is Sierra Leone, which became the country's name.

Soon after Portuguese traders arrived at the harbour and by 1495 a fort that acted as a trading post had been built.[21] The Portuguese were joined by the Dutch and French; all of them using Sierra Leone as a trading point for slaves.[22] In 1562, the English joined the trade in human beings when Sir John Hawkins shipped 300 enslaved people, acquired 'by the sword and partly by other means', to the new colonies in America.[23]

An 1835 illustration of liberated Africans arriving in Sierra Leone.

Early Colonies

In 1787 a settlement was founded by 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. 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, 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.[24]

The colony of Freetown in 1856.

Through the impetus of Thomas Peters, the Sierra Leone Company 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.[25] The Sierra Leone Company refused to allow the settlers to take freehold of the land. Some of the Settlers revolted in 1799. The revolt was only put down by the arrival of over 500 Jamaican Maroons, who also arrived via Nova Scotia. In 1800, Jamaican Maroons from Trelawny Town, Jamaica were settled via Nova Scotia.

After sixteen years of the running the Colony, the Sierra Leone Company was formed into the African Institution. 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 (English) monopoly on Sierra Leone trade.[26]

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 Sierra Leone Creoles.

Colonial era

Bai Bureh, leader of the 1898 rebellion against British rule

In the early 20th century, Freetown served as the residence of the British governor who also ruled the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and the Gambia settlements. Sierra Leone also served as the educational centre of British West Africa. Fourah Bay College, established in 1827, rapidly became a magnet for English-speaking Africans on the West Coast. For more than a century, it was the only European-style university in western Sub-Saharan Africa.

During Sierra Leone's colonial history, indigenous people mounted several unsuccessful revolts against British rule. The most notable was the Hut Tax war of 1898. The Hut Tax War consisted of a Northern front, led by Bai Bureh, 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.[27] Bai Bureh was finally captured on 11 November 1898 and sent into exile 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.[28]

One notable event in 1935 was the granting of a monopoly on mineral mining to the Sierra Leone Selection Trust run by De Beers, which was scheduled to last 98 years.

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 Creoles, led by Isaac Wallace-Johnson, naturally opposed the proposals, whose effect would have been to diminish their political power. It was due to the astute politics of Sir Milton Margai, who was the son of a creole man by the name of Tu-borku Metzeger he was raised up by his step father an ethnic Mende and the leading Protectorate politician, that the educated Protectorate elite was won over to join forces with the paramount chiefs in the face of Creole intransigence. Later, Sir Milton [whose real family name was Tu Borku Metzeger] used the same skills to win over opposition leaders and moderate Creole elements for the achievement of independence.

In November 1951, Sir Milton Margai oversaw the drafting of a new constitution, which united the separate Colonial and Protectorate legislatures and—-most importantly—-provided a framework for decolonization.[29] In 1953, Sierra Leone was granted local ministerial powers, and Sir Milton Margai, was elected Chief Minister of Sierra Leone.[29] The new constitution ensured Sierra Leone a parliamentary system within the Commonwealth of Nations.[29] 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 majority of the seats in Parliament. Margai was also re-elected as Chief Minister by a landslide.

Margai led the Sierra Leonean delegation at the constitutional conferences that were held with British Colonial Secretary Iain Macleod in London in 1960. All members of the Sierra Leonean delegation were prominent and well-respected politicians including Sir Milton's younger brother Sir Albert Margai, John Kareefa Smart, Lamina Sankoh, Kande Bureh, Sir Banja-Tejan Sie, Ella Koblo Gulama, Amadu Wurie, Mohamed Sanusi Mustapha and Eustace Henry Taylor Cummings. Two notable absentees from the delegation were Siaka Stevens, the leader of the opposition APC, and the veteran Creole politician Isaac Wallce-Johnson who were placed under house arrest in Freetown, charged with disrupting the Independence movement.[30]

Early independence (1961 - 1991)

APC political rally in Kabala outside the home of supporters of the rival SLPP in 1968

On the 27 April 1961 Sierra Leone became politically independent of Great Britain. It retained a parliamentary system of government and was a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Sierra Leone's first general election was held in May 1962 with Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) being elected and Sir Milton Margai becoming prime minister.[31][32] The years after just after independence were prosperous with money from mineral resources being used for development and the founding of Njala University.[32] Upon Sir Milton's death in 1964, his half-brother, Sir Albert Margai, was appointed as Prime Minister. He proved unpopular and resorted to increasingly authoritarian actions in response to protests, including enacted several laws against the opposition All People's Congress (APC) and attempting to establish a single-party state.[33] The APC, with leader Siaka Stevens, won the 1967 general election. Within a week the army and created a military government.[32][34] In April 1968 parts of the military revolted allowing the APC and Stevens to take power.[35]

Steven ruled for the next 18 year, a period of political violence, government centralisation and dictatorship, and economic deterioration.[32][36] In November 1968 a state of emergency was declared after provincial disturbances, and 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; as a result the APC won 84 of the 85 elected seats.[37] In July 1974, the government uncovered an alleged military coup plot. As in 1971, the leaders of were tried and executed. In 1977, student demonstrations against the government disrupted Sierra Leone politics. A general election was called later that year in which corruption was again endemic; the APC won 74 seats and the SLPP 15.

Siaka Stevens retired in November 1985 and was succeeded by his favored candidate head of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh. Joseph Saidu Momoh was sworn in Freetown on 28 November 1985 with Francis Minah as Vice president. A one party parliamentary elections between APC members were 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 for Political Leaders and Public Servants." After an alleged attempt to overthrow President Momoh in March 1987, more than 60 senior government officials were arrested, including Vice-President Francis Minah, who was removed from office, convicted for plotting the coup, and executed by hanging in 1989 along with 5 others.

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

See also: Sierra Leone Civil War

A school in Koindu destroyed during the Civil War, in total 1,270 primary schools were destroyed in the War.[38]

Between 1991 and 2002 civil war devastated the country leaving more than 50,000 people dead and much of the country's infrastructure destroyed.[39] Civil war broke out, mainly due to government corruption and mismanagement of diamond resources and abuse of power by various governments since independence from Britain (Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Report). The brutal civil war going on in neighbouring Liberia played an undeniable role in the outbreak of fighting in Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor—then leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia—reportedly helped form the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under the command of former Sierra Leonean army corporal Foday Saybana Sankoh, an ethnic Temne from Tonkolili District in Northern Sierra Leone. Sankoh was a British trained former army corporal who had also undergone guerrilla training in Libya. Taylor’s aim was for the RUF to attack the bases of Nigerian dominated peacekeeping troops in Freetown who were opposed to his rebel movement in Liberia.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, who is a 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 in Eastern Sierra Leone from Liberia 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. Forced recruitment of child soldiers was also an early feature of the rebel strategy.

In October, the United Nations agreed to send peacekeepers to help restore order and disarm the rebels. The first of the 6,000-member force began arriving in December, and the UN Security Council voted in February 2000 to increase the force to 11,000, and later to 13,000. But in May, when nearly all Nigerian forces had left and UN forces were trying to disarm the RUF in eastern Sierra Leone, Sankoh's forces clashed with the UN troops, and some 500 peacekeepers were taken hostage as the peace accord effectively collapsed. The hostage crisis resulted in more fighting between the RUF and the government as UN troops launched Operation Khukri to end the seize. The Operation was successful with Indian and British Special Forces being the main contingents.

The situation in the country deteriorated to such an extent that British troops were deployed in Operation Palliser, 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, 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, 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 Worlds 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 and Liberia. In 2001, UN forces moved into rebel-held areas and began to disarm rebel soldiers. By January 2002, the war was declared over. In May, Kabbah was reelected president. By 2004, the disarmament process was complete. Also in 2004, a UN-backed war crimes court began holding trials of senior leaders from both sides of the war. In December 2005, UN peacekeeping forces pulled out of Sierra Leone.

In August 2007, Sierra Leone held presidential and parliamentary elections. However, no presidential candidate won the 50% plus one votes majority stipulated in the constitution on the first round of voting. A runoff election was held in September 2007, and Ernest Bai Koroma, the candidate of the APC and ethnically a half Limba and half Temne from the north was elected president.

By 2007, there had been an increase in the number of drug cartels, many from Colombia, using Sierra Leone as a base to ship drugs on to Europe.[25] It was feared that this might lead to increased corruption and violence and turn the country, like neighbouring Guinea-Bissau, 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.

Geography and climate

Main article: Geography of Sierra Leone

Satellite image of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is located on the west coast of Africa, lying mostly between latitudes and 10°N (a small area is south of 7°), and longitudes 10° and 14°W.

The country is bordered by Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.[40]

Sierra Leone has a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi), divided into a land area of 71,620 km2 (27,653 sq mi) and water of 120 km2 (46 sq mi).[2] The country has four distinct geographical regions. In eastern Sierra Leone the plateau is interspersed with high mountains, where Mount Bintumani reaches 1,948 m (6,391 ft), the highest point in the country. The upper part of the drainage basin of the Moa River is located in the south of this region.

The centre of the country is a region of lowland plains, containing forests, bush and farmland,[40] that occupies about 43% of Sierra Leone's land area. The northern section of this has been categorised by the World Wildlife Fund as part of the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic ecoregion, while the south is rain-forested plains and farmland. In the west Sierra Leone has some 400 km (249 mi) of Atlantic coastline, giving it both bountiful marine resources and attractive tourist potential. The coast has areas of low-lying Guinean mangroves swamp. The national capital Freetown sits on a coastal peninsula, situated next to the Sierra Leone Harbor, the world's third largest natural harbour.

The climate is tropical, with two seasons determining the agricultural cycle: the rainy season from May to November, and a dry season from December to May, which includes harmattan, when cool, dry winds blow in off the Sahara Desert and the night-time temperature can be as low as 16 °C (60.8 °F). The average temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F) and varies from around 26 °C (78.8 °F) to 36 °C (96.8 °F) during the year.[41][42]

Environment

See also: Wildlife of Sierra Leone

Logging, mining, slash and burn, and deforestation for land conversion - such as cattle grazing - have dramatically diminished forested land in Sierra Leone since the 1980s. Correspondingly the habitat for the African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus, has been decreased, such that this canid is deemed to have been extirpated in Sierra Leone.[43]

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.[44] On paper, 55 protected areas covered 4.5% of Sierra Leone as of 2003. The country has 2,090 known species of higher plants, 147 mammals, 626 birds, 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and 99 fish species.[44]

The Environmental Justice Foundation has documented how the number of illegal fishing vessels in Sierra Leone's waters has multiplied in recent years. The amount of illegal fishing has significantly depleted fish stocks, depriving local fishing communities of an important resource for survival. The situation is particularly serious as fishing provides the only source of income for many communities in a country still recovering from over a decade of civil war.[45]

In June 2005, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Bird Life International agreed to support a conservation-sustainable development project in the Gola Forest in southeastern Sierra Leone,[46] an important surviving fragment of rainforest in Sierra Leone.

Government and politics

Main article: Politics of Sierra Leone

Ernest Bai Koroma, current president of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. The current system of government in Sierra Leone, established under the 1991 Constitution, is modelled on the following structure of government: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.[47]

Within the confines of the 1991 Constitution, supreme legislative powers are vested in Parliament, which is the law making body of the nation. Supreme executive authority rests in the president and members of his cabinet and judicial power with the judiciary of which the Chief Justice is head.

The president is the head of state, the head of government and the commander-in-chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the Sierra Leone Police. The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers, which must be approved by the Parliament. The president is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two five-year terms. The president is the highest and most influential position within the government of Sierra Leone.

To be elected president of Sierra Leone, a candidate must gain at least 55% of the vote. If no candidate gets 55%, there is to be a second-round runoff between the top two candidates.

The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was sworn in on 17 September 2007, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off election over the incumbent Vice president, Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP).[48]

Next to the president is the Vice president, who is the second-highest ranking government official in the executive branch of the Sierra Leone Government. As designated by the Sierra Leone Constitution, the vice president is to become the new president of Sierra Leone upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president by parliament and to assume the Presidency temporarily while the president is otherwise temporarily unable to fulfill his or her duties. The vice president is elected jointly with the president as his or her running mate. Sierra Leone's current vice president is Samuel Sam-Sumana, sworn in on 17 September 2007.

The Sierra Leone Supreme Court in the capital Freetown, the highest and most powerful court in the country

The Parliament of Sierra Leone is unicameral, with 124 seats. Each of the country's fourteen districts is represented in parliament. 112 members are elected concurrently with the presidential elections; the other 12 seats are filled by paramount chiefs from each of the country's 12 administrative districts.

The current parliament in the August 2007 Parliamentary elections is made up of three political parties. The most recent parliamentary elections were held on 11 August 2007. The All People's Congress (APC), won 59 of 112 parliamentary seats; the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) won 43; and the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) won 10. To be qualified as Member of Parliament, the person must be a citizen of Sierra Leone, must be at least 21 years old, must be able to speak, read and write the English language with a degree of proficiency to enable him to actively take part in proceedings in Parliament; and must not have any criminal conviction.[47]

Since independence in 1961, Sierra Leone's politics has been dominated by two major political parties, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), and the ruling All People's Congress (APC), although other minor political parties have also existed but with no significant supports.

The judicial power of Sierra Leone is vested in the judiciary, headed by the Chief Justice and comprising the Sierra Leone Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country and its ruling therefore cannot be appealed; High Court of Justice; the Court of Appeal; the magistrate courts; and traditional courts in rural villages. The president appoints and parliament approves Justices for the three courts. The Judiciary have jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters throughout the country. The current Sierra Leone's Chief Justice is Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh, who was appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma and took office on 25 January 2008 upon her confirmation by parliament. She is the first woman in the history of Sierra Leone to hold such position.[49]

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Sierra Leone

Embassy of Sierra Leone in Washington, D.C.

The Sierra Leone Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Zainab Hawa Bangura is responsible for foreign policy of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has diplomatic relations that include China, Libya, Iran, and Cuba. Sierra Leone has good relations with the West, including the United States and has maintained historical ties with the United Kingdom and other former British colonies through membership of the Commonwealth of Nations.[50] 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' government had sought closer relations with other West African countries under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a policy continued by the current. Sierra Leone, along with Liberia and Guinea form the Mano River Union (MRU) primarily designed to implement development projects and promote regional economic integration between the three countries.[51]

Sierra Leone is also a member of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the African Union, the African Development Bank (AFDB), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).[52] Sierra Leone is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US military (as covered under Article 98).

Provinces and districts

Main articles: Provinces of Sierra Leone, Districts of Sierra Leone, and Chiefdoms of Sierra Leone

The 12 districts and 2 areas of Sierra Leone.

The Republic of Sierra Leone is composed of four regions the Northern Province, Southern Province, the Eastern Province and the Western Area. The 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.[53][54] 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, Bo, Bonthe, Kenema, Koidu and Makeni.[53]


District Capital Area km2 Province Population (2004 census)[55] Population (2008 estimates)
Bombali District Makeni 7,985 Northern Province 408,390 424,100[56]
Koinadugu District Kabala 12,121 265,758
Port Loko District Port Loko 5,719 455,746 483,752[57]
Tonkolili District Magburaka 7,003 347,197 370,425[58]
Kambia District Kambia 3,108 270,462 299,725[59]
Kenema District Kenema 6,053 Eastern Province 497,948 522,656[60]
Kono District Koidu Town 5,641 335,401
Kailahun District Kailahun 3,859 358,190 389,253[61]
Bo District Bo 5,473.6[62] Southern Province 463,668 527,131[63]
Bonthe District Mattru Jong 3,468 129,947 137,155[64]
Pujehun District Gandorhun 4,105 228,392 262,073[65]
Moyamba District Moyamba 6,902 260,910
Western Area Urban District Freetown 3,568 Western Area 1,272,873 1,473,873
Western Area Rural District Waterloo 4,175 174,249 205,400

Economy

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Diamond miners in Kono District.

Main article: Economy of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is slowly emerging from a protracted civil war and is showing signs of a successful transition. Investor and consumer confidence continue to rise, adding impetus to the country’s economic recovery. There is greater freedom of movement and the successful re-habitation and resettlement of residential areas.

Rich in minerals, Sierra Leone has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. The country is among the top 10 diamond producing nations in the world. Mineral exports remain the main foreign currency earner. Sierra Leone is a major producer of gem-quality diamonds. Though rich in diamonds, it has historically struggled to manage their exploitation and export.

Annual production of Sierra Leone's diamond estimates range between $250–300 million US$. Some of that is smuggled, where it is possibly used for money laundering or financing illicit activities. Formal exports have dramatically improved since the civil war with efforts to improve the management of them having some success. In October 2000, a UN-approved certification system for exporting diamonds from the country was put in place and led to a dramatic increase in legal exports. In 2001, the government created a mining community development fund, which returns a portion of diamond export taxes to diamond mining communities. The fund was created to raise local communities' stake in the legal diamond trade.

Sierra Leone is perhaps best known for its blood diamonds that were mined and sold to De Beers and other diamond conglomerates during the civil war, in order to buy the weapons that fueled the atrocities of the civil war.[citation needed] In the 1970s and early 1980s, economic growth rate slowed because of a decline in the mining sector and increasing corruption among government officials.

Percentage of GDP by sector (2007)[66]
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 quarying 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, a titanium ore used as paint pigment and welding rod coatings. Sierra Rutile Limited, owned by a consortium of United States and European investors, began commercial mining operations near the city of Bonthe, in the Southern Province, in early 1979. It was then the largest non-petroleum US investment in West Africa. The export of 88,000 tons realized $75 million in export earnings in 1990. In 1990, the company and the government made a new agreement on the terms of the company's concession in Sierra Leone. Rutile and bauxite mining operations were suspended when rebels invaded the mining sites in 1995, but exports resumed in 2005.

About two-thirds of the population engages in subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 52.5% of national income. The government is trying to increase food and cash crop production and upgrade small farmer skills. The government works with several foreign donors to operate integrated rural development and agricultural projects.

Despite its successes and development, the Sierra Leone economy still faces significant challenges. There is high unemployment, particularly among the youth and ex-combatants. Authorities have been slow to implement reforms in the civil service, and the pace of the privatisation programme is also slacking and donors have urged its advancement.

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

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Sierra Leone

A woman in the village of Njama in Kailahun District

Sierra Leone had an estimated 2010 population of 5,245,695 and growth rate of 2.216 percent a year.[2] The countries population is young, with an estimated 41.7 percent under 15, and rural, with an estimated 62 percent of people living in the countryside.[2] Due to migration to cities the population is becoming more urban with an estimated rate of urbanization of 2.9 percent a year.[2][67] Population density varies greatly with the country. The Western Area Urban District, that includes Freetown the capital and largest city, has a population density of 1,224 persons per square km whereas the largest district Koinadugu has a density of 21.4 persons per square km.[67] The life expectancy of Sierra Leone is 41 years.[68]

Although English is the official language[69] spoken at schools, government administration, and by the media, Krio (language derived from English and several African languages and native to the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the most widely spoken language in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone. The Krio language is spoken by 97%[2] of the country's population and unites all the different ethnic groups, especially in their trade and interaction with each other.[1] In December 2002, Sierra Leone’s President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah named Bengali as an "official language" in recognition of the work of 5,300 troops from Bangladesh in the peace-keeping force.[70][71]

According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Sierra Leone had a population of 8,700 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2007. Nearly 20,000 Liberian refugees voluntarily returned to Liberia over the course of 2007. Of the refugees remaining in Sierra Leone, nearly all were Liberian.[72]

Religion

Further information: Islam in Sierra Leone, Roman Catholicism in Sierra Leone, and Hinduism in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone religious sects
Religion Percent
Islam
77%
Christianity
21%
African indigenous
2%

Sources: 2010 UNHCR Report on International Religious Freedom in Sierra Leone [7]


Followers of Islam are estimated to comprise 77% of Sierra Leone's population according to the 2010UNHCR report Report on International Religious Freedom in Sierra Leone.[8]. This is the most recent data taken by the UNHCR. (IRC)[77] or 71.3% (4,059,000) according to the Pew Research Center estimate.[78] Muslims predominate in all of the country's three provinces and plus the Western Area, though formerly they were concentrated in the north, with the south being mainly Christian. According to the 2010UNHCR Report on International Religious Freedom in Sierra Leone [9]. about 21% of the total population are followers of Christianity; and 2% of the population practice Indigenous beliefs according to the 2010UNHCR report Report on International Religious Freedom in Sierra Leone [10].

The Sierra Leone constitution provides freedom of religion and the government generally protects this right and does not tolerate its abuse. Unlike many other African countries, the religious diversity of Sierra Leone has seldom led to conflict.

Ethnic groups

Ethnic groups of Sierra Leone
Mende
Temne
Limba
Kono
Mandingo
Krio
Fula
Kuranko
Sherbro
Susu
Loko
Kissi
Yalunka
Vai

The Sierra Leone government officially recognizes fourteen ethnic groups,[79] 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 two largest and most dominant are the Mende and Temne, each comprises 30% of the population[80] (about 1,888,000 members each). The Mende predominate in the South-Eastern Provinces; the Temne likewise predominate in the Northern Province. 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 believe to have come from Futa Jallon, which is in present-day Guinea. Sierra Leone's national politics centres on the competition between the north, dominated by the Temne and the south-east dominated by the Mende.

The third largest ethnic group are the Limba at (8.5%) of the population. The Limba are native 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 are a close ally of the Temne. Sierra Leone's first president Siaka Stevens and the country's second president Joseph Saidu Momoh are ethnic Limba.

The fourth largest ethnic group are the Fula 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 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

The fifth largest ethnic group are the Mandingo (also known as Mandinka) at (7%) (they are the descendants of the Mandinka traders from Guinea who immigrated to Sierra Leone between 1840 to about 1898). The Mandinka 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 and Falaba in Koinadugu District in the north and Yengema, Kono District in the east of the country. Some notable Mandinka includes Sierra Leone's third president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, former Sierra Leone's vice president Sorie Ibrahim Koroma and current Sierra Leone's natural resources minister [[Minkailu Mansaray..

After the Mandinka, are the Kono who live primarily in Kono District 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's vice president Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana and current Sierra Leone's first lady Sia Nyama Koroma

Behind the Kono, are the Creole (at 5%) (descendants of freed West Indians slaves from the West Indies and freed African American slaves from the United States which landed in Freetown between 1787 and about 1885) are primarily found in the capital city of Freetown and its surrounding Western Area. Creole culture is unlike that of all other ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, and it is typical of Western culture and ideals.

Much smaller ethnic groups are the Kuranko who are related to the Mandingo. The Kuranko are believed to have began arriving in Sierra Leone from Guinea in about 1600 and settle in the north. The Loko in the north are native people of Sierra Leone and they have lived in Sierra Leone since it was discovered. The Susu and Yalunka in the far north in Kambia District around the border with Guinea are related people and they are both descendants from Guinea. The Kissi and the much smaller group of Vai are further inland in Kailahun District in the East next to the border with Liberia. On the coast in Bonthe District in the south are the Sherbro who are native people of Sierra Leone and have settle in Sherbro island since it was founded. In the past, Sierra Leoneans were noted for their educational achievements, trading activity, entrepreneurial skills, and arts and crafts work, particularly wood carving. Many are part of larger ethnic networks extending into several countries, which link West African states in the area. But the level of education and infrastructure has declined sharply over the last 30 years.[81]

List of Sierra Leoneans

Education and Health

Second grade class in Koidu Town.

Main articles: Education in Sierra Leone and Healthcare in Sierra Leone

Education in Sierra Leone is legally required for all children for six years at primary level (Class P1-P6) and three years in junior secondary education,[82] but a shortage of schools and teachers has made implementation impossible.[38] Two thirds of the adult population of the country are illiterate.[83] The Sierra Leone Civil War resulted in the destruction of 1,270 primary schools and in 2001 67 percent of all school-age children were out of school.[38] 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.[84] Students at primary schools are usually 6 to 12 years old, and in secondary schools 13 to 18. Primary education is free and compulsory in government-sponsored public schools.

The Kailahun Government Hospital at its reopening in 2004.

The country has two universities: Fourah Bay College, founded in 1827 (the oldest university in West Africa),[85] and Njala University, primarily located in Bo District. Njala University was established as the Njala Agricultural Experimental Station in 1910 and became a university in 2005.[86] 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.[87] The country has a very high infant mortality and a very low life expectancy. The maternal death rates are also the highest in the world, at 2,000 deaths per 100,000 live births. The country suffers from epidemic outbreaks of diseases including yellow fever, cholera, lassa fever and meningitis.[88] 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.[89]

Military

Main article: Military of Sierra Leone

The Military of Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), are the unified armed forces of Sierra Leone responsible for the territorial security of Sierra Leone's border and defending the national interests of Sierra Leone within the framework of its international obligations. The armed forces were formed after independence in 1961, on the basis of elements of the former British Royal West African Frontier Force present in the country. The Sierra Leone Armed Forces currently consist of around 15,500 personnel, comprising the largest Sierra Leone Army,[90] the Sierra Leone Navy and the Sierra Leone Air Wing.[91] 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 Defense Minister is Ret. Major Alfred Paolo Conteh. The Military of Sierra Leone also has a Chief of the Defence Staff who is a uniformed military official responsible for the administration and the operational control of the Sierra Leone military.[92] Brigadier General Alfred Nelson-Williams who was appointed by president Koroma succeeded the retired Major General Edward Sam M’boma on 12 September 2008 as the Chief of Defense Staff of the Military.[93]

Before Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961 the military was known as the Royal Sierra Leone Military Force. The military seized control in 1968, bringing the National Reformation Council into power. On 19 April 1971, when Sierra Leone became a republic, the Royal Sierra Leone Military Forces were renamed the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Force (RSLMF).[94] 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 (SLP). Sierra Leone Police was established by the British colony back in 1894 and is one of the oldest police forces in West Africa. The key mission of the Sierra Leone Police include to prevent crime, to protect life and property, to detect and prosecute offenders, to maintain public order, to ensure safety and security, to enhance access to justice. The Sierra Leone Police is headed by the Inspector General of Police, the professional head of the Sierra Leone Police force and is appointed by the President of Sierra Leone. Each one of Sierra Leone's 14 districts is headed by a District Police commissioner who is the professional head of their respective district. The Districts Police Commissioners report directly to the Inspector General of Police at the Sierra Leone Police headquarters in Freetown. The current Inspector General of Police is Brima Acha Kamara who was appointed to the position by former president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

Transportation

Main article: Transport in Sierra Leone

The road from Kenema to Kailahun District.

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 11,700 kilometres (about 7,270 miles) of highways in Sierra Leone, of which 936 km (582 mi) are paved (about 8% of the roads). Sierra Leone highways are linked to Conakry, Guinea, and Monrovia, Liberia. Sierra Leone has the largest natural harbour on the African continent, allowing international shipping through the Queen Elizabeth II Quay in the Cline Town 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, Freetown, Sherbro Island and Pepel.

There are ten regional airports in Sierra Leone, and one international airport. The Lungi International Airport located in the coastal town of Lungi in Northern Sierra Leone is the primary airport for domestic and international travel to or from Sierra Leone. Passengers cross the river to Aberdeen Heliports in Freetown by hovercraft, ferry or a helicopter. Helicopters are also available from the airport to other major cities in the country. The airport has paved runways longer than 3,047m. The other airports have unpaved runways, and seven have runways 914 to 1,523 metres long; the remaining two have shorter runways. 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.[95]

Culture

The Arts

Main article: Music of Sierra Leone

The arts in Sierra Leone are a mixture of tradition and hybrid African and western styles.[96][97][98]

Sports

Main article: Sport in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leonean football star Sheriff Suma just after a Leone Stars training session on 4 Sept. 2008 at the National Stadium in Freetown.

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 but participated in the 1994 and 1996 African Cup of Nations. The country's national television network, The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) broadcasts the live match, along with several radio stations throughout the country. Some well known Sierra Leonean footballers include the team captain Mohamed Kallon, Julius Gibrilla Woobay, Al Bangura, Paul Kpaka, Rodney Strasser, Ahmed Deen, Samuel Barlay, Kewullay Conteh Albert Jarrett and Kei Kamara

The Sierra Leone National Premier League is the top football league, controlled by the Sierra Leone Football Association. The two biggest and most successful football clubs are East End Lions and Mighty Blackpool, but Kallon F.C. has enjoyed contemporary success. Kallon F.C. won the Premier League and the Sierra Leonean FA Cup in 2006, and eliminated 2006 Nigerian Premier League Champions Ocean Boys FC in the 2007 CAF Champions League first qualifying round, but later lost to ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast in the second qualifying round for the group stage.

The Sierra Leone U-17 football team, nicknamed the Sierra Stars, finished as runner-up at the 2003 African U-17 Championship in Swaziland, but came in last place in their group at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland.

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

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.[99] However, the team was unable to obtain Canadian visas to play in the tournament, which was held in Toronto.[100]

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

Main article: Media in Sierra Leone

Radio listener in Kailahun

Media in Sierra Leone began with the introduction of the first printing press in Africa at the start of the nineteenth century. A strong journalistic tradition developed with the creation of a number of newspapers. In the 1860s, the country became a journalist hub for Africa, with professionals travelling to the country from across the continent. At the end of the nineteenth century, the industry went into decline, and when radio was introduced in the 1930s, it became the primary communication media in the country. The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) was created by the government in 1934 making it the earliest English language radio broadcaster service in West Africa. The service began broadcasting television in 1963, with coverage extended to all the districts in the country in 1978.

Print media is not widely read in Sierra Leone, especially outside Freetown, partially due to the low levels of literacy in the country.[101] In 2007 there were 15 daily newspapers in the country, as well as those published weekly.[102] 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.[101]

Isata Mahoi shown editing radio programmes in Talking Drum studio Freetown, she is also an actress in Sierra Leone radio soap opera Atunda Ayenda

Radio is the most-popular and most-trusted media in Sierra Leone, with 85% of people having access to a radio and 72% of people in the country listening to the radio daily.[101] These levels do vary between areas of the country, with the Western Area having the highest levels and Kailahun the lowest. Stations mainly consist of local commercial stations with a limited broadcast range, combined with a few stations with national coverage. The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) runs one of the most popular stations in the country, broadcasting programs in a range of languages. Content includes news of UN activities and human rights information, as well as music and news. The UN missions will withdraw in 2008 and the UN Radio's future is uncertain. There is also a government station run by the SLBS that transmits on FM and short-wave. FM relays of BBC World Service, Radio France Internationale and Voice of America are also broadcast.

Outside the capital Freetown television is not watched by a great many people. There are two national, free terrestrial television stations in Sierra Leone, one run by the government SLBS and the other a private station, ABC Television-Africa (ABC). In 2007, a pay-per-view service was also introduced by GTV as part of a pan-African television service in addition to the nine year old sub-saharan Digital satellite television service (DStv) originating from Multichoice Africa in South Africa. Internet access in Sierra Leone has been sparse but is on the increase, especially since the introduction of wireless services across the country. There are nine internet service providers (ISPs) operating in the country. Freetown has a city wide wireless network and internet cafes and other businesses offering internet access. Problems experienced with access to the Internet include an intermittent electricity supply and a slow connection speed in the country outside Freetown.

The Sierra Leone constitution guarantees freedom of speech, and freedom of the press; however, the government maintains strong control of media, and at times restricts these rights in practice. Some subjects are seen as taboo by society and members of the political elite; imprisonment and violence have been used by the political establishment against journalists.[103][104] 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.[105] In 2006, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah committed to reforming the laws governing the press and media to create a freer system for journalists to work in,[105] 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.[106]

See also

Notes

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Book references

Primary sources

Secondary sources

Further reading

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