Fun Facts About Sierra Leone – The Diamond of Africa

Peace & Democracy

Did you know- Since 2007, SL is one of the world’s youngest democracies. The government is making enormous efforts to improve the human development conditions of all Sierra Leoneans. The country has recently emerged from one of the world’s most brutal civil wars (an ethnic-based conflict), in which over 100,000 people were slaughtered. During that bloody war, thousands boys were forced to become child soldiers and slaves. In addition, several girls and teenagers were raped by rebel forces and other groups, one of the worst nightmares in modern history.

Geography

Did you know- Sierra Leone is a beautiful nation in West Africa, whose territory is covered by tropical rainforests, mountains, and savannahs, as well as beaches and mangrove swamps. With an area of 27,699 square miles (71740 km2), about the size of West Virginia, the modern state of Sierra Leone is one of Africa’s smallest republics and the 118th largest country on the Planet, ahead of Ireland, Georgia and Sri Lanka. Despite its tiny size, it boasts a host of rivers. This tropical nation is bordered to the north and the east by Guinea (ex French colony since 1958), to the south by Liberia (the only African nation never to have been taken over by a foreign rule) and to the south by the Atlantic Ocean. Moreover, it has the world’s third-largest natural harbour.

Africa’s Aphrodite

Did you know- During the 2009 Miss World, Sierra Leone’s delegate Mariatu Kargbo, who speaks Chinese, Creole and English, caused great sensation when she won two special awards, where participated over 110 countries and dependencies. Because of this, Sierra Leone – a former war-torn country that is making enormous efforts to build a democratic society– became one of the favorites to win theMiss World title, along with Venezuela’s Maria Milagros Veliz, a student at the European Business School London, and three other Latin American entries. During an interview, Miss Kargbo said: “I have prepared myself for the past two years when I saw Sierra Leone do badly in the 57th Miss World Championship in Sanya (China)”. Educated in the People’s Republic of China, Miss Kargbo, whose idol is Nelson Mandela, earned the Miss World 2009 Talent. Then, on November 28, 2009, she, a manager’s assistant, won the World Designer Award when her evening gown was voted as the “most original design” in the global contest (the nation’s first ever title at that competition). Designed by Dany Tabet, Kargbo’s dress has been inspired by the country’s ethnic diversity, one of the richest on the African mainland. Curiously, the country has never competed in Miss Universe.

Diamonds

Did you know- On February 14, 1972, the country made the world headlines when the world’s third-largest gem-quality diamond -called the “Star of Sierra Leone” — was discovered in Koidu, SL. The “Star of Sierra Leone” -now its value is about $ 3 million– is 968.8 carats.

20th Century

Did you know- SL has been an independent republic for over 45 years. 1961 was a special year for Sierra Leone: it gained its independence from the United Kingdom. In the succeeding months, on September 27, 1961, it officially became a United Nations member. But by that time, it also joined the British Commonwealth. In the subsequent decade, between 1970 and 1971, Sierra Leone won one of the 15 seats in the UN Security Council, along with France, Taiwan, and the United States.

Olympic Games

Did you know- From the 1960s on, the English-speaking nation is member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Of the 16 champs from SL, backed by the IOC, that had participated at the 1996 Summer Olympics in the United States, 14 were athletes.

Tourism

Did you know- Due to its splendid scenery, it is a new tourist destination in the region. Without a doubt, Sierra Leone has a host of amazing landscapes, from mangrove swamps, rivers (Moa & Sewa), islands (Sherbro) and wetlands in the south to tropical rainforests, and mountains (Bintimani and Sankanbiriwa) in the east and historic sites in the west. The country’s nature reserves are home to several wild animals, water birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, snails, arachnids, and crustaceans. On the other hand, it also is endowed with one of the largest areas of virgin beaches (potentially a holiday paradise). Certainly, it offers some of the best tropical beaches in West Africa- there are more than 300 kilometers of beaches surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, the Sherbro island is home to one of the continent’s most popular fishing sites. On April 16, 1991, Yvon Sebag caught a tarpon of about 283 lbs. In addition, SL has a variety of African traditions.When you think of tropical rainforests, African music, and stunning beaches, think of Sierra Leone. In fact, here you’ll find a new country to discover!

Natural Resources

Did you know- This land is very rich in natural resources (such as minerals, freshwater, and rainforests). Despite being one of the Continent’s smallest republics, it is one of Africa’s major diamond producers ( which account for nearly 55% of total exports). In addition to diamonds, it has extensive deposits of titanium and bauxite.

Cultural Diversity

Did you know- This English-speaking republic — the “little jewel in West Africa”- is a fusion of different cultures, religions and races. It is home to up to sixteen ethnic groups.

World-famous Athletes

Did you know- Sierra Leone is the birthplace of Eunice Barber, one of the world’s top female athletes in the late 1990s, along with Stacy Dragila (USA), Tegla Loroupe (Kenya), and Denise Lewis (Great Britain). Until 1998, she competed for SL, and became the country’s most successful athlete (male or female). By the early 1990s, she took part in the 25th Summer Olympics in Spain, where did not even make the semi-finals in the heptathlon and 100m hurdles. By 1993, she failed to make the semi-finals in the women’s heptathlon at the IAAF World Championships in Stuggart (Germany). In the subsequent years, Barber was ranked among the top five heptathletes in the world. By 1995, she placed fourth at the IAAF World Cup in Sweden. At the XXVI Summer Games in Atlanta, USA, Miss Barber, a French-trained-athlete, finished fifth in the heptathlon (with 6.342 points). Like several African champs, she became a French citizen in early 1999. Competing under the French flag, she won two world titles: heptathlon (1999) and long jump (2003). Apart from these awards, Miss Barber had won three other medals (2 silver and 1 bronze) at the World Championships in the early 2000s.

Freetown

Did you know- Freetown, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, is the capital and largest city in the country. This metropolis – a capital city which is a port – has a lot of historic buildings. Moreover, here there are over 1.1 million people. It was set up in 1787.

Famous Persons

Did you know- From the 1960s on, SL has a handful of notable persons: Salif Easmon (author), James Jonah (diplomat), Eunice Barber (athlete), and Abiogen Nicol (novelist).

Source by Alejandro Guevara Onofre

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