Country on the Gulf of Guinea between Guinea and Liberia. Its capital, Freetown, was originally settled by former slaves from Jamaica, but their descendants make up only 10% of the country's population now. It became independent from the UK in 1961.

Currently UN peacekeeping troops are in active combat in Sierra Leone. Here are the numbers courtesy of the UN homepage...

HEADQUARTERS
Freetown, Sierra Leone

DURATION
22 October 1999 to present

CURRENT MANDATE
Six months beginning on 4 February 2000 (Security Council resolution 1289 (2000))

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AND CHIEF OF MISSION
Oluyemi Adeniji (Nigeria)

FORCE COMMANDER
Major General Vijay Kumar Jetley (India)

CHIEF MILITARY OBSERVER
Brigadier General Isaac Soda Arizona Chisuzi (Zambia)

STRENGTH
Authorized maximum strength:
11,100 military personnel, including 260 military observers, and 60 civilian police personnel

Strength on 10 April 2000:
7,223 troops, 259 military observers, 11 civilian police, and 299 international and 213 local civilian personnel

CONTRIBUTORS OF MILITARY PERSONNEL (on 10 April 2000)
Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mali, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Zambia

CONTRIBUTORS OF CIVILIAN POLICE PERSONNEL (on 10 April 2000):
Gambia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Namibia, Norway, Senegal

FINANCIAL ASPECTS
Method of financing: Assessments in respect of a Special Account Initial appropriation: US$200 million Financial implications of the further expansion of the Mission estimated at additional US $ 110 million

The first imperialist colony in Africa (disregarding Roman Egypt). Sierra Leone was founded in 1792 by the Sierra Leone Company, a prototypical territorial corporation on the model of the Hudson's Bay Company. Its founders and financiers were largely prominent abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson. Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, was founded by black loyalists from Nova Scotia, who had been enticed to move there by promises of land and self-government.

The owners of the Sierra Leone Company had the best of intentions, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with. The governors chosen by the company enforced strict control of the colony. When the settlers threatened to rebel and support the native tribes attacking the colony, their land was seized, dissenters were exiled, and new settlers from Jamaica were brought in and played against them. As the British ended slavery, slave ships that were captured by privateers or British warships were unloaded in Sierra Leone.

Around this time, Liberia was settled by the Americans on the same model. Colonial imperialism in Africa became the latest fad among European nations, carried out to its most brutal extreme in the Belgian Congo. Sierra Leone eventually became a prosperous colony, although it was never quite as lucrative as the more repressive colonial regimes.

Like all of Britain's African colonies, Sierra Leone was made independent in the aftermath of World War II.

Now that diamonds have been discovered in Sierra Leone, there's something for the new imperial powers, corporations, to fight over again. Sierra Leone has once again become a testing ground for new corporate models as mercenary corporations like Sandline International take contracts to 'protect' the Sierra Leone government (i.e. eliminate rebels by any means possible using the latest in military technology). Western diamond mining companies have arranged and financed this assistance in order to ensure control of these 'conflict diamonds'. And so Africans are killed and mutilated by the thousands in order to stabilize the world's essential supply of diamond rings.

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