Striving for a better future
After gaining independance from Great Britain in 1961 the country has faced many years of varying power struggles and corruption. A once democratic nation suffered at the hands of dictatoring leaders. This led to the Sierra Leone Civil War which took place between 1991 and 2002. The war devastated the country leaving more than 50,000 people dead, much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed, and over two million people displaced in neighbouring countries as refugees; mainly to Guinea, which was home to over 600,000 Sierra Leonean refugees.
Today, after free and fair elections in 2002, 2007 and 2012 (which saw an unopposed change of government) Sierra Leone is once again a democracy with free speech, free movement of people and free trade.
Sierra Leone has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. The country is among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, and a major producer of gold. However, despite this natural wealth, 60% of its people live in poverty.
Health issues are very different here than in the western world with Sierra Leone lying close to the bottom of the UN Human Development index.