Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 2002 that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about a third of the population). The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country's stability. The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 and 2012 national elections but still look to the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) - a civilian UN mission - to support efforts to consolidate peace. The new government's priorities include furthering development, creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption.
rapid population growth pressuring the environment; overharvesting of timber, expansion of cattle grazing, and slash-and-burn agriculture have resulted in deforestation and soil exhaustion; civil war depleted natural resources; overfishing
Temne 35%, Mende 31%, Limba 8%, Kono 5%, Kriole 2% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century; also known as Krio), Mandingo 2%, Loko 2%, other 15% (includes refugees from Liberia's recent civil war, and small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians) (2008 census)
English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)
highest court(s): Superior Court of Judicature (consists of the Supreme Court - at the apex - with the chief justice and 4 other judges, the Court of Appeal with the chief justice and 7 other judges, and the High Court of Justice with the chief justice and 9 other judges; note – the Judicature has jurisdiction in all civil, criminal, and constitutional matters
judge selection and term of office:
Supreme Court chief justice and other judges of the Judicature appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (a 7-member independent body of judges, presidential appointees, and the Commission chairman) and subject to the approval of Parliament; all Judicature judges appointed until retirement at age 65
magistrates' courts; District Appeals Court; local courts
three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and blue; green symbolizes agriculture, mountains, and natural resources, white represents unity and justice, and blue the sea and the natural harbor in Freetown
Sierra Leone is an extremely poor nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. While it possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, its physical and social infrastructure has yet to recover from the civil war, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. Alluvial diamond mining remains the major source of hard currency earnings, accounting for nearly half of Sierra Leone's exports. The fate of the economy depends upon the maintenance of domestic peace and the continued receipt of substantial aid from abroad, which is essential to offset the severe trade imbalance and supplement government revenues. The IMF completed a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program that helped stabilize economic growth and reduce inflation and in 2010 approved a new program worth $45 million over three years. Political stability has led to a revival of economic activity such as the rehabilitation of bauxite and rutile mining, which are set to benefit from planned tax incentives. A number of offshore oil discoveries were announced in 2009 and 2010. The development of these reserves, which could be significant, is still several years away, however, growth skyrocketed to more than 20% in 2012, as exploitation activities began.
1 government-owned TV station; 1 private TV station began operating in 2005; a pay-TV service began operations in late 2007; 1 government-owned national radio station; about two dozen private radio stations primarily clustered in major cities; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available (2007)
bulk carrier 22, cargo 120, carrier 2, chemical tanker 19, container 6, liquefied gas 3, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 28, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 4, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 1
98 (Bangladesh 1, China 19, Cyprus 2, Egypt 3, Estonia 2, Hong Kong 7, Japan 4, Lebanon 2, North Korea 2, Romania 2, Russia 7, Singapore 9, Syria 13, Taiwan 7, Turkey 9, UAE 1, UK 1, Ukraine 5, Yemen 2) (2010)
as domestic fighting among disparate ethnic groups, rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone gradually abates, the number of refugees in border areas has begun to slowly dwindle; Sierra Leone considers excessive Guinea's definition of the flood plain limits to define the left bank boundary of the Makona and Moa rivers and protests Guinea's continued occupation of these lands including the hamlet of Yenga occupied since 1998