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Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone (Officially The Republic Of Sierra Leone)

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 was introduced to Sierra Leone by the 9th century, and by AD 1000 agriculture 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 Islamic influence of the Songhai Empire. The Islamic faith however became common in the 18th century. European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. In 1462, Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra mapped the hills surrounding what is now Freetown Harbour; naming shaped formation Serra de Leão (Portuguese for Lion Mountains).The Italian rendering of this geographic formation is Sierra Leone, which became the country's name.

The Krio Language is national language spoken throughout the 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 other. Krio is the primary language of communication among Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad. The language is native to the Sierra Leone Creole people or Krios, (a community of about 300,000 descendants of freed slaves from the West Indies, United States and Britain), but it is spoken as a second language by millions of other Sierra Leoneans belonging to the country's indigenous tribes. English is Sierra Leone's official language, while Krio, despite its common use throughout the country, has no official status.
When it comes to religion an estimated 60% of Sierra Leone's population are followers of Islam. 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. About 30% of the population is Christian, and those following only African indigenous religion are about 10%. There are small numbers of adherents to other faiths such as Bahā’ī, Judaism, and Hinduism. The Constitution of Sierra Leone provides freedom of religion. The government generally protects this right and does not tolerate any abuse. Unlike many other African countries, the religious diversity of Sierra Leone has seldom led to conflict. Sierra Leone's music is a mixture of native and French and British influences. Palm wine is representative, and is played by an acoustic guitar with percussion in countries throughout coastal West Africa. Palm wine, the drink, is the source of the name of the music and the clubs where it was both drunk and played. 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 1860’s, 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 1930’s, it became the primary communication media in the country.
Health care is provided mainly by the government. 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 the age of five. This policy has been supported by increased aid from the United Kingdom and is recognized as a progressive move that other African countries may follow. 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. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the population is 1.6 %, higher than the world average of 1%, but lower than the average of 6.1% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to a main article in Wikipedia, “Education in Sierra Leone is legally required for all children for six years at primary level and three years in junior secondary education, but a shortage of schools and teachers has made implementation impossible. Two thirds of the adult population of the country is illiterate. The Sierra Leone Civil War resulted in the destruction of 1,270 primary schools and in 2001, 67% of all school-age children were out of school. The situation has improved considerably since then with primary school enrollment doubling between 2001 and 2005 and the reconstruction of many schools since the end of the war. Students at primary schools are usually 6 to 12 years old, and in secondary schools 13 to 18. Primary education is free and compulsory in government-sponsored public schools. The country has two universities: Fourah Bay College, founded in 1827 (the oldest university in West Africa), 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. Teacher training colleges and religious seminaries are found in many parts of the country.”
Sierra Leone is officially home to fourteen ethnic groups, each with its own language and custom. However, the two largest and most dominant are the Mende and Temne, each comprising 30% of the population. The Mende are predominantly found in the South-Eastern region of Sierra Leone and the Temne likewise predominate in Northern Sierra Leone. Some national holidays celebrated in Sierra Leone include New Years, Armed Forces Day, The Prophets Birthday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Independence Day, Korite, Tabaski, Christmas , and Boxing Day. Football, referred to as soccer there, 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. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and has a population estimated at 6.5 million. It is a former British Colony and now a constitutional republic comprising three provinces and the Western Area; which are further divided into fourteen districts. There are 11,700 kilometers (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 third largest natural harbor in the world, where international shipping berth at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay in Government Wharf in central Freetown. There are 800 km (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. 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.
According to Wikipedia, “Sierra Leone is very rich in mineral resources, possessing most of the known mineral types of 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 ten 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 retile. Despite this natural wealth, the vast majority of its people live in poverty. Annual production of Sierra Leone's diamond estimates range between 250–300 million U.S. dollars.”
“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, an 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, and whose monies were used to buy the weapons that fueled the atrocities of the civil war. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, economic growth rate slowed because of a decline in the mining sector and increasing corruption among government officials. Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. The current system of government in Sierra Leone, established under the 1991 Constitution, is modeled on the following structure of government: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. 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, recognized foreign exchange bureau 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.

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 current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was sworn in on September 17, 2007, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off election over the incumbent Vice president, Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People's Party. 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, the Sierra Leone Navy and the Sierra Leone Air Wing.
According to an article in Wikipedia online, “Sierra Leone is located on the west coast of Africa, between the 7th and 10th parallels north of the equator. Sierra Leone is bordered by Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The country has a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi), divided into a land area of 71,620 km2 (27,653 sq mi) and water of 120 km2 (46 sq mi).[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), and 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, that occupies about 43% of Sierra Leone's land area. The northern section of this has been categorized by the World Wildlife Fund as part of the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic eco region, 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 harbor. 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.”…...

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