Sierra Leone

 

Democracy is slowly being re-established 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 one-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 side-line during the 2007 presidential election, but still look to the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) – 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.

 

Geography:
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia
Geographic coordinates: 8 30 N, 11 30 W
People:
Population: 5,485,998 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.8% (male 1,113,528/female 1,130,112)

15-64 years: 54.5% (male 1,401,907/female 1,522,335)

65 years and over: 3.7% (male 86,614/female 109,173) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Sierra Leone

conventional short form: Sierra Leone

local long form: Republic of Sierra Leone

local short form: Sierra Leone

Government type: constitutional democracy
Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 14,000 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 2 million (2009)

 

Transportation:
Airports: 8 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF): Army (includes Navy (Maritime Wing), Air Wing) (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 17 years 6 months of age for male and female voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); no conscription; candidates must be HIV negative (2009)

Economy:

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 is not well developed, 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 has completed a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program that helped stabilize economic growth and reduce inflation. A recent increase in political stability has led to a revival of economic activity such as the rehabilitation of bauxite and rutile mining.

Transnational Issues:

As domestic fighting among disparate ethnic groups, rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone gradually abate, the number of refugees in border areas has begun to slowly dwindle; UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) has maintained over 4,000 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone since 1999; 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