A profile of Sierra Leone

A picture of Sierra Leone

Because it served as the point of departure for thousands of west African captives, the West African nation of Sierra Leone has special significance in the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Freetown, the nation's capital, was established in 1787 as a residence for emancipated former slaves.

However, the brutal civil war that ended in 2002 with the assistance of Britain, the country's former colonial power, and a sizable United Nations peacekeeping mission has overshadowed the modern history of the nation.

Although the destructive effects of the civil war are still present, Sierra Leone has seen significant economic growth in recent years.

Diamonds and other minerals are also abundant in the nation. The civil war was sustained by the trade in illegal gems, also referred to as "blood diamonds" due to their use in financing conflicts. The government has made an effort to outlaw the practice.

  • with capital letters. Freetown.
  • Area:.  71,740 sq km.
  • Population:. 80.6 million.
  • Languages:. Krio, English.
  • the length of life. 58 years for men and 61 years for women.

Julius Maada Bio is the president.

Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio

In June 2023, Julius Maada Bio was elected president for a second term. The election was hotly contested, with the opposition alleging voting irregularities and international election observers pointing out issues with transparency in the tabulation of votes.

The Sierra Leone People's Party's Mr. Bio received 56% of the vote, according to official statistics. Samura Kamara of the All People's Congress (APC), who was his main rival, lagged far behind with only 41% of the vote.

After taking part in a military coup during the country's civil war in 1992, President Bio, a retired army brigadier, went on to overthrow the military junta itself in 1996, paving the way for free elections that year.

His rivalry with Dr. Kamara was a rehash of the hotly contested 2018 election that required a second round.

An unstable economy, rising living expenses, and worries about maintaining national unity served as the backdrop for the campaign.

The onus is now on Mr. Bio, who previously attributed the nation's problems to foreign causes like the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.

Since the brutal 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone was declared to have ended in 2002, there have been five elections. The chairperson of the non-governmental organization National Elections Watch, Marcella Samba Sesay, claims that since then, the nation has a tradition of largely peaceful, free, and credible elections.

Men panning for diamonds
Years of warfare were financed in part by Sierra Leone's diamonds.

Media rights watchers claim that high-level corruption is a taboo subject in Sierra Leone and that officials use libel laws to target errant journalists. As a result, media freedom in the country is limited.

Unreliable power sources, inadequate funding, and low advertising revenues are some of the difficulties faced by broadcasters. There are numerous radio stations, the majority of which are owned privately.

Despite the low literacy rate in Freetown, dozens of newspapers are published there.

Child soldiers in Sierra Leone
A protracted civil war plagued Sierra Leone. The fighting involved child soldiers.

Important dates in Sierra Leone's history include:.

1787 . - British abolitionists and philanthropists found a settlement for rescued and repatriated slaves in Freetown.

1808 . - The Freetown community becomes a crown colony.

1896 . - Britain establishes a protectorate over the hinterland of Freetown.

1961 . Sierra Leone gains its independence.

1967 . - A military coup overthrows Premier Siaka Stevens' administration; however, he quickly regains control and is elected president in 1971, when Sierra Leone becomes a republic.

1991 . - The civil war's outbreak. Foday Sankoh, a former army corporal, launches a campaign against President Joseph Saidu Momoh and his Revolutionary United Front (RUF), seizing towns along the Liberian border.

1992 . - A military coup led by Captain Valentine Strasser removes President Joseph Momoh. Strasser makes plans for the first multi-party elections since 1967 after receiving pressure from the international community. But following a string of coups, the nation quickly changes its presidents.

2000 . - UN troops in the country to help put an end to the war are attacked in the east. Several hundred UN personnel are kidnapped. Rebels are drawing near Freetown. British paratroopers are dispatched to Freetown to evacuate British nationals and assist in securing the airport for UN peacekeepers; Foday Sankoh, the rebel leader, is taken prisoner.

2002 . End of the civil war. 45,000 fighters have been disarmed, according to the UN mission. To establish a war crimes court, the government and UN concur. Following a two-year mission to assist in putting an end to the fighting, British troops depart Sierra Leone.

2003 . - While waiting to be tried for war crimes, rebel leader Foday Sankoh passes away naturally.

2004 . - The first local elections in more than 30 years; the start of the war crimes investigations into the atrocities committed by both sides during the conflict.

2014-2016 . - To combat the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which continues into 2016, Sierra Leone declares a state of emergency. More than 11,000 people die in the region.

Sierra Leonean rebel Sankoh
The RUF rebel group, which was well-known for its widespread rape and mutilation, was led by Foday Sankoh.

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