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HISTORY


EARLY SETTLEMENT

The state of Sierra Leone situated in the west of the African continent had already been populated in pre- Christian times by the Pygmies. As from the first Millenium A.D. various tribes migrated and were living from agriculture and cattle raising. Several immigration waves were also following in the 13th Century, tribes of the Temne, Limba, Sosso and many others. Especially the Islamic Mali- realm gained in today’s Sierra Leone in importance which lead to further migration and population movements.

COLONIZATION

The first Europeans who eventually discovered the coastal Region of West Africa in the end of the15th Century were the Portuguese, who established first subsidiaries, for which gold- ivory and slave trade constituted the basis. Sierra Leone also received its name from the Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra who dubbed the country Serra de Leão, which means “Lion mountains”. Sierra Leone became an important centre of the transatlantic violent legacy of slave trade in the 16th century. The Portuguese where joined by other European powers, including France, the Netherlands and England. In 1787 British abolitionists and philanthropists established a settlement in Freetown for repatriated and rescued slaves. The British succeeded in 1808 and the main settlement of slaves became the newly founded crown colony Freetown and the interior of the country became in 1896 a British Protectorate.

GAINING INDEPENDENCE

After initial rebellions against foreign occupation Sierra Leone received in 1958 for the first time a limited self-government. Another three years later, in 1961, the land was among the first Prime Minister Milton Margai, who finally released Sierra Leone in full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations. Fragile political conditions, with frequent government changes and coup attempts were followed by the one-party rule of the APC (All People's Congress) in 1978, which led to a fundamental strengthening of the difficult situation. In 1985 Major- General Joseph Saidu Momoh becomes president after Steven’s retirement. In 1987 Momoh declares state of economic emergency.

CIVIL WAR AND COUPS

In 1991 civil war broke out in Sierra Leone and the former army corporal Foday Sankoh and his Revolutionary United Front (RUF) started a campaign against President Momoh and captured towns on the border with Liberia. The civil war broke out, mainly due to government corruption and mismanagement of diamond resources and abuse of power by various governments since independence from Britain.
 Due to several states of emergencies, Coup attempts and riots, a multiparty System was reintroduced in the same year. However, a change of the political Situation could not be obtained.
In particular, the actions of the rebel movement RUF could only get controlled with foreign governmental help. Efforts for peace negotiations between the government and rebels failed in the following years. Instead, evictions and massive human rights violations continued to shook the entire country.

POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES

In 1997 the Commonwealth suspended Sierra Leone. The political situation worsened and the UN had to intervene in 1999. In 2000 at the request of the United Nations a cease- fire was negotiated, a year later began the gradual demobilization of the rebels.
The long civil war history has been worked up in lengthy procedures and Sierra Leone has achieved successfully since the official end of the political state of emergency in 2002 first steps towards democratization and stabilization.

A NEW ERA

In January 2002 the war was declared to be over and the government and the UN agreed to set up a war crimes court. In may Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won a landslide victory in elections with Sierra Leone People's Party. In July British troops left Sierra Leone after their two-year mission to help ending the civil war. In the same month rebel leader Foday Sankoh died of natural causes while waiting to be tried for war crimes.

MAJOR MODIFICATIONS

In may 2004 local elections were held, the war crime trials began and the UN handed its control of security over to local forces.
In 2006 the Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor was arrested in Nigeria and was handed over to the war crimes court in Sierra Leone which indicted him and sent him to the court in the Hague, where he stood accused of instigating atrocities in Sierra Leone. The trial against Charles Taylor was officially opened on the 4th of June 2007 in The Hague. In the trial the prosecution was trying to prove that he was in possession of blood diamonds from Sierra Leone. On the 8th of February 2011 measures of inquiry were completed. A final verdict has still not been accomplished.
In August 2007 Ernest Bai Koroma won the presidency and his All People's Congress, formerly in opposition, won a majority in the parliament.
In April 2011 Sierra Leone marked 50 years of independence from Britain.
Currently the government of Sierra Leone, the UNDP and several other organizations are also working on a poverty reduction strategy, named “Agenda for Change”  in order to describe and improve the country’s macroeconomic, structural, and social policies. In August 2012 presidential elections are expected to take place.