Ghana: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Gold Coast West African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Ghana

Introduction Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, RAWLINGS won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR succeeded him and was re-elected in 2004. Kufuor is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in upcoming Presidential elections, which are scheduled for December 2008.
History Medieval Ghana (4th – 13th Century):The Republic of Ghana is named after the medieval Ghana Empire of West Africa. The actual name of the Empire was Ouagadougou. Ghana was the title of the kings who ruled the kingdom. It was controlled by Sundiata in 1240 AD, and absorbed into the larger Mali Empire. (Mali Empire reached its peak of success under Mansa Musa around 1307.) Around 1235 a Muslim leader named Sundiata united warring tribes. He then brought neighboring states under his rule to create the Mali empire.Its capital city was called Kumbi-Saleh.

Geographically, the old Ghana was approximately 500 miles (800 km) north of the present Ghana, and occupied the area between Rivers Senegal and Nigeria. Some inhabitants of present Ghana have ancestors linked with the medieval Ghana. This can be traced down to the Mande and Voltaic people of Northern Ghana–Mamprussi, Dagomba and the Gonja. Anecdotal evidence connected the Akans to this Empire. The evidence lies in names like Danso shared by the Akans of present Ghana and Mandikas of Senegal/Gambia who have strong links with the Empire. Ghana was also the site of the Empire of Ashanti which was perhaps the most advanced black state in sub-Sahara Africa. It is said that at its peak, the King of Ashanti could field 500,000 troops.

Up until March 1957, Ghana was known to much of the world as the Gold Coast. The Portuguese who came to Ghana in the 15th Century found so much gold between the rivers Ankobra and the Volta that they named the place Mina – meaning Mine. The Gold Coast was later adopted by English colonists. The French, impressed with the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named the area to the west “Cote d’Ivoire,” or Ivory Coast.

In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Diogo d’Azambuja to build Elmina Castle, which was completed the next year. Their aim was to trade in gold, ivory and slaves, consolidating their burgeoning power in the region.

By 1598 the Dutch had joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsi. In 1637 they captured Elmina Castle from the Portuguese and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders joined in by the mid 17th century, largely English, Danes and Swedes. The coastline was dotted by more than 30 forts and castles built by Dutch, British and Danish merchants. The Gold Coast became the highest concentration of European military architecture outside of Europe. By the latter part of 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left and after the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate.

For most of central sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural expansion marked the period before 500. Farming began earliest on the southern tips of the Sahara, eventually giving rise to village settlements. Toward the end of the classical era, larger regional kingdoms had formed in West Africa, one of which was the Kingdom of Ghana, north of what is today the nation of Ghana. After its fall at the beginning of the 13th century, Akan migrants moved southward then founded several nation-states including the first great Akan empire of the Bono which is now known as the Brong Ahafo region in Ghana. Later Akan groups such as the Ashanti federation and Fante states are thought to possibly have roots in the original Bono settlement at Bono manso. Much of the area was united under the Empire of Ashanti by the 16th century. The Ashanti government operated first as a loose network and eventually as a centralized kingdom with an advanced, highly-specialized bureaucracy centered in Kumasi.

The first contact between the Ghanaian peoples, the Fantes on the coastal area and Europeans occurred in 1482. The Portuguese first landed at Elmina, a coastal city inhabited by the Fanti nation-state in 1482. During the next few centuries parts of the area were controlled by British, Portuguese, and Scandinavian powers, with the British ultimately prevailing. These nation-states maintained varying alliances with the colonial powers and each other, which resulted in the 1806 Ashanti-Fante War, as well as an ongoing struggle by the Empire of Ashanti against the British. Moves toward regional de-colonization began in 1946, and the area’s first constitution was promulgated in 1951.

Formed from the merger of the British colony Gold Coast, The Empire of Ashanti and the British Togoland trust territory by a UN sponsored plebiscite, Ghana became the first democratic sub-Sahara country in colonial Africa to gain its independence in 1957. Kwame Nkrumah,LIE founder and first president of the modern Ghanaian state, was not only an African anti-colonial leader but also one with a dream of a united Africa which would not drift into neo-colonialism. He was the first African head of state to espouse Pan-Africanism, an idea he came into contact with during his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (United States), at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his “Back to Africa Movement.” He merged the dreams of both Marcus Garvey and the celebrated African-American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois into the formation of the modern day Ghana. Ghana’s principles of freedom and justice, equity and free education for all, irrespective of ethnic background, religion or creed borrow from Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s implementation of Pan-Africanism.

Nkrumah was overthrown by a military coup in 1966.[attribution needed] It has been argued that this was supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency;[7][8] that assertion remains generally unproven. A series of subsequent coups ended with the ascension to power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. These changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. A new constitution, restoring multi-party politics, was promulgated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president in the free and fair elections of that year and again won the elections 1996 to serve his second term. The constitution prohibited him from running for a third term. John Agyekum Kufuor, the current president, is now serving his second term, which ends in 2008 where another election will be held to elect a new president. Last year 2007 marks Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebration of its 50-year anniversary, which was on March 6, 1957.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 239,460 sq km
land: 230,940 sq km
water: 8,520 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 2,094 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 549 km, Cote d’Ivoire 668 km, Togo 877 km
Coastline: 539 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north
Terrain: mostly low plains with dissected plateau in south-central area
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Afadjato 880 m
Natural resources: gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, limestone
Land use: arable land: 17.54%
permanent crops: 9.22%
other: 73.24% (2005)
Irrigated land: 310 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 53.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.98 cu km/yr (24%/10%/66%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dry, dusty, northeastern harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts
Environment – current issues: recurrent drought in north severely affects agricultural activities; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; poaching and habitat destruction threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: Lake Volta is the world’s largest artificial lake
Politics Government: Ghana was created as a parliamentary democracy at independence in 1957, followed by alternating military and civilian governments. In January 1993, military government gave way to Fourth Republic after presidential and parliamentary elections in late 1992. The 1992 constitution divides powers among a president, parliament, cabinet, Council of State, and an independent judiciary. The Government is elected by universal suffrage.[9]

Administrative Divisions: There are ten administrative regions which are divided into 110 districts, each with its own District Assembly. Below districts are various types of councils, including fifty eight town or area councils, 108 zonal councils, and 626 area councils. 16,000 unit committees on lowest level.[9]

Judicial System: The legal system is based on Ghanaian common law, customary (traditional) law, and the 1992 constitution. Court hierarchy consists of Supreme Court of Ghana (highest court), Court of Appeal, and High Court of Justice. Beneath these bodies are district, traditional, and local courts. Extrajudicial institutions include public tribunals, vigilante groups, and asafo companies. Since independence, courts are relatively independent; this independence continues under Fourth Republic. Lower courts are being redefined and reorganized under the Fourth Republic.[9]

Politics: Political parties became legal in mid-1992 after ten-year hiatus. Under the Fourth Republic, major parties are National Democratic Congress, led by Jerry John Rawlings, which won presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992; New Patriotic Party, major opposition party; People’s National Convention, led by former president Hilla Limann; and (new) People’s Convention Party, successor to Kwame Nkrumah’s original party of same name.[9]

Foreign Relations: Since independence, Ghana has been fervently devoted to ideals of nonalignment and Pan-Africanism, both closely identified with first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana favors international and regional political and economic cooperation, and is an active member of United Nations and Organization of African Unity. In 1994 President Rawlings was elected chairman of Economic Community of West African States.

People Population: 22,931,299
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.2% (male 4,438,308/female 4,329,293)
15-64 years: 58.2% (male 6,661,512/female 6,687,738)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 380,495/female 433,953) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 20.2 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 20.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.972% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 29.85 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.55 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.025 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.996 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.877 male(s)/female
total population: 1.003 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 53.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 59.12 years
male: 58.31 years
female: 59.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.89 children born/woman

Underdeveloped African nations get a go at the China market

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S SHINE NEWS AGENCY)

 

Underdeveloped African nations get a go at the China market

China International Import Expo

Dong Jun / SHINE

Visitors to the import expo check out the pavilions of African countries.

South Sudanese businessman Kuyu Dhel picked up a few Chinese phrases as he manned a stall at the first China International Import Expo.

Bu neng chi, or “not edible,” were the words he uttered most frequently, he said, as Chinese visitors perusing his stand of nuts, dried flowers and sorghum puzzled over gum in small, irregularly shaped blocks.

They were looking at gum Arabic, which is a natural gum made from the hardened sap of two species of acacia trees. Translated from Arabic to Chinese, it’s called a la bo jiao. Dhel tried to explain to curious visitors that the gum is used as a food stabilizer.

Dhel’s business card lists him as a consultant for Ramciel Multipurpose Co-operative Society, and the company’s address is on Chinese Friendship Hospital Road. The company’s presence at expo is all down to the Chinese government.

“The Ministry of Commerce helped facilitate everything including a free booth,” Dhel told Shanghai Daily at his busy booth. “To the best of my knowledge, we are the first South Sudanese to come tapping on China’s door for a new market.”

President Xi Jinping said two months ago that the least developed African countries would be exempt from exhibition fees. He also pledged to increase China’s imports from the region, especially non-resource products.

The United Nations lists South Sudan as one of the 47 least developed countries, based on factors such as gross per capita national income and adult literacy. According to China National Radio, about 30 of the 47 countries on the list are participating at expo, many from Africa.

“The expo has built a very good platform for companies around the world, including those from Senegal,” said Alioune Sarr, Senegal’s minister of trade, consumer affairs and medium-sized enterprises.

He also praised China’s decision to focus on further opening up its markets to foreign goods and services.

Senegal and Ethiopia, both on the list of least developed countries, have national pavilions displaying specialty goods. Underdeveloped countries are mostly in the agricultural and food halls, offering products like tea, coffee, cocoa and grains. African nations have also brought along colorful handicrafts, fabrics, gems and diamonds.

China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for nine consecutive years. By the end of 2017, the value of that trade was US$170 billion, 17-fold higher than that in 2000. Growth is expected to remain in double digits for the next five to 10 years.

Qian Keming, China’s deputy minister of commerce, told a media group in August that China exempts from duties about 97 percent of products from 33 less developed African countries.

When at home, Dhel watches the China Global Television Network (CGTN) program “Africa Live,” where he first learned about the import expo.

“President Xi’s idea of having this import fair in Shanghai is just great because this city has long been a commercial center,” he said.

Dhel, who speaks seven languages, studied and worked in Germany and traveled around Europe before returning to South Sudan to work on Ramciel food imports from Dubai, Kenya and Uganda.

“Our agricultural industry is new, but it is quickly growing,” he said of the young nation.

“I always thought of visiting China in terms of climbing the Great Wall, never thought of doing business here,” he said. “So many Chinese buyers have expressed interest in our products, and some were eager to do deals on the spot.”

He added, “I have been making observations and absorbing so that I can go home and digest all the information that will be useful for our business and for those companies that follow us into China.”

Dong Jun / SHINE

Zheng Qijun, a representative from a small private trading company in Guizhou discusses details of a purchase of nuts with South Sudanese businessman Franco Yousif Dobu.

Dong Jun / SHINE

The gum Arabic brought by Sudanese, which is a natural gum made from the hardened sap of two species of acacia trees.

Dhel’s colleague at expo, Ramciel Managing Director Franco Yousif Dobu, thinks it is also a good platform for Chinese traders.

“China has big opportunities for business with African countries,” he said. “Previously, people wanted to sell to America the most, but now many regard the China market on par with America.”

A Chinese buyer was eyeing Ramciel’s sample of nuts for sale as Dobu talked with Shanghai Daily. The two men quickly got into a serious business discussion, with the Chinese buyer expressing interest in purchasing one or two containers of the nuts. They discussed details of a letter of credit and transport through Mombasa port of Kenya.

“I have bought African products before because they are not genetically modified, but all through other traders,” said Zheng Qijun, who identified himself as a representative from a small private trading company in Guizhou. “I want to take advantage of this expo to see whether I can make some contacts and start some direct purchases.”

Zheng also got curious about gum Arabic. The South Sudanese explained to him that it is an African product that got its name from old Arabic merchants who were the first sell it globally.

Dhel asked Shanghai Daily, “What is tao jiao (peach gum)? Why are all the Chinese visitors asking me if gum Arabic is tao jiao?”

As the journalist explained that many Chinese women eat peach gum regularly as a beauty treatment, Dhel’s eyes lit up at a possible new business opportunity.

“I need to go back and see what we have,” he said.

Dong Jun / SHINE

Zambian participants bring high-quality gems to the expo.

Ethiopia Swears In First Woman Supreme Court Chief

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Ethiopia Swears In First Woman Supreme Court Chief

Meaza Ashenafi is Ethiopia’s first female Supreme Court chief, and one of several women appointed to senior government positions by its new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Ethiopia swore in its first female Supreme Court chief on Thursday, part of a wave of appointments of women to top government positions backed by Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The new chief, Meaza Ashenafi , a champion of women’s rights, was a judge on Ethiopia’s High Court from 1989 to 1992 and adviser for the UN Economic Commission for Africa. She founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and started the country’s first women’s bank.

Meaza also tried a case that resulted in an end to the tradition of kidnapping girls and forcing them to marry. The case sparked debate over the issue throughout the country and became the subject of the 2014 film “Difret,” executive produced by Angelina Jolie. Underage marriage remains common in rural Ethiopia, where most of the population lives.

Abiy Ahmed, 42, Africa’s youngest head of government, was elected prime minister in April, and has promoted a series of measures to improve gender parity in the country. After a cabinet reshuffling, women now make up half of Ethiopia’s ministerial positions.

Abiy said he nominated Meaza “with the firm belief that she has the capacity required, with her vast international experience in mind,” according to Reuters. The parliament approved the nomination unanimously.

Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s chief of staff, tweeted congratulations to Meaza following her swearing in.

“Ethiopia’s march towards gender parity in key leadership positions continues unabatedly,” Fitsum wrote.

Abiy has also invited exiled opposition leaders back to Ethiopia and released thousands of political prisoners, including journalists and bloggers. He made peace with Ethiopia’s neighbor, Eritrea, after a border war and 20 years of bitter relations, and has begun opening up the country’s state-run economy.

Guinea: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This West African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Guinea

Introduction Guinea has had only two presidents since gaining its independence from France in 1958. Lansana CONTE came to power in 1984 when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou TOURE. Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when Gen. CONTE (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998 and again in 2003, though all the polls have been marred by irregularities. Guinea has maintained its internal stability despite spillover effects from conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia. As those countries have rebuilt, Guinea’s own vulnerability to political and economic crisis has increased. Declining economic conditions and popular dissatisfaction with corruption and bad governance prompted two massive strikes in 2006; a third nationwide strike in early 2007 sparked violent protests in many Guinean cities and prompted two weeks of martial law. To appease the unions and end the unrest, CONTE named a new prime minister in March 2007.
History The land composing present-day Guinea was part of a series of empires, beginning with the “Ghana Empire” which came into being around 900AD. This was followed by the Sosso kingdom in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Mali Empire took control of the region after the Battle of Kirina in 1235, but grew weaker over time from internal conflicts, which eventually led to its dissolution. One of the strongest successor states was the Songhai state, which became the Songhai Empire. It exceeded its predecessors in terms of territory and wealth, but it too fell prey to internal wrangling and civil war and was eventually toppled at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591.

A chaotic period followed, until an Islamic state was founded in the eighteenth century, bringing some stability to the region. A simultaneous important development was the arrival of Fulani Muslims in the highland region of Fuuta Jalloo in the early eighteenth century.

Europeans first came to the area during the Portuguese Discoveries in the fifteenth century, which saw the beginning of the slave trade.

Guinea was created as a colony by France in 1890 with Noël Balley as the first governor. The capital Conakry was founded on Tombo Island in the same year. In 1895 the country was incorporated into French West Africa.

On 28 September 1958, under the direction of Charles de Gaulle, Metropolitan France held a referendum on a new constitution and the creation of the Fifth Republic. The colonies, except Algeria, which was legally a direct part of France, were given the choice between immediate independence or retaining their colonial status. All colonies except Guinea opted for the latter. Thus, Guinea became the first French African colony to gain independence, at the cost of the immediate cessation of all French assistance.

After independence Guinea was governed by the dictator Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré pursued broadly socialist economic policies, suppressed opposition and free expression with little regard for human rights. Under his leadership, Guinea joined the Non-Aligned Movement and pursued close ties with the Eastern Bloc. After his death in 1984, Lansana Conté assumed power and immediately changed his predecessor’s economic policies, but the government remained dictatorial. The first elections since independence were held in 1993, but the results and those of subsequent elections were disputed. Conté faces domestic criticism for the condition of the country’s economy and for his heavy-handed approach to political opposition.

While on a visit to France with his family in 2005, Prime Minister François Fall resigned and sought asylum, citing corruption and increasing interference from the President, which he felt limited his effectiveness as the head of the government. Fall’s successor, Cellou Dalein Diallo, was removed in April of 2006, and Conté failed to appoint a new one until the end of January 2007 after devastating nationwide strikes and mass demonstrations. During 2006, there were two nationwide strikes by government workers, during which 10 students were shot dead by the military; strikes were suspended when Conté agreed to more favorable wages to civil servants and a reduction of the cost of certain basic amenities (rice and oil).

At the beginning of 2007, citing the government’s failure to honour the terms of previous agreements, trade unions called new strikes, protesting of rising costs of living, government corruption, and economic mismanagement. Lasting for more than 2 weeks, these strikes drew some of the largest demonstrations seen during Conté’s tenure and resulted in some 60 deaths. Among the unions’ demands was that the aging and ailing President name a consensus Prime Minister, to fill the post vacant since Diallo’s removal, and relinquish to him certain presidential responsibilities. Conté reluctantly agreed to appoint a new prime minister and lower fuel and rice prices, and the strikes were subsequently suspended.

On 13 February 2007, upon the nomination of Eugene Camara to the post of Prime Minister, viewed as a close ally of Conté, violent demonstrations immediately broke out throughout the country. Strikes resumed, citing the President’s failure to nominate a “consensus” prime minister as per the January 27th agreement.[1] A state of martial law was declared after violent clashes with demonstrators, bringing the death toll since January to well over 100, and there were widespread reports of pillaging and rapes committed by men in military uniform. Government buildings and property owned by government officials throughout the country were looted and destroyed by angry mobs. Many feared Guinea to be on the verge of civil war as protesters from all parts of Guinea called for Conté’s unequivocal resignation.

After diplomatic intervention from ECOWAS, neighboring heads of state, the EU, the UN, etc., Conté agreed to choose a new Prime Minister from a list of five candidates furnished by the labor unions and civic leaders. On February 26, Lansana Kouyaté, former Guinean ambassador to the UN, was nominated to the post. Strikes were called off, and the nomination was hailed by the strikers.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates: 11 00 N, 10 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 245,857 sq km
land: 245,857 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 3,399 km
border countries: Cote d’Ivoire 610 km, Guinea-Bissau 386 km, Liberia 563 km, Mali 858 km, Senegal 330 km, Sierra Leone 652 km
Coastline: 320 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds
Terrain: generally flat coastal plain, hilly to mountainous interior
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Nimba 1,752 m
Natural resources: bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, uranium, hydropower, fish, salt
Land use: arable land: 4.47%
permanent crops: 2.64%
other: 92.89% (2005)
Irrigated land: 950 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 226 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.51 cu km/yr (8%/2%/90%)
per capita: 161 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season
Environment – current issues: deforestation; inadequate supplies of potable water; desertification; soil contamination and erosion; overfishing, overpopulation in forest region; poor mining practices have led to environmental damage
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Niger and its important tributary the Milo have their sources in the Guinean highlands
Politics Politics of Guinea takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Guinea is both head of state, head of government, and the commander in chief of the Guinean Military. The president is elected to a maximun of two 7 year term, although the current Guinee Lansana Conte who has been in power since 1984 continue to run for further tearms. Executive power is exercised by the president and members of his cabinet. To be elected president of Guinea a candidate must be a Guinean born citizen by birth, be at least 35 years of age and must be able to speak and read the French language.

Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly. The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 114 members, elected for a four year term, 38 members in single-seat constituencies and 76 members by proportional representation. Guinea is a one party dominant state with the Party of Unity and Progress in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.

People Population: 9,947,814 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.3% (male 2,226,414/female 2,183,153)
15-64 years: 52.5% (male 2,611,833/female 2,610,773)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 138,392/female 177,249) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 17.7 years
male: 17.5 years
female: 17.9 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.62% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 41.53 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 15.33 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.781 male(s)/female
total population: 1.001 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 88.58 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 93.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 83.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 49.65 years
male: 48.5 years
female: 50.84 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.75 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 3.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 9,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2008)
Nationality: noun: Guinean(s)
adjective: Guinean
Ethnic groups: Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, smaller ethnic groups 10%
Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, indigenous beliefs 7%
Languages: French (official); note – each ethnic group has its own language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 29.5%
male: 42.6%
female: 18.1%

Guinea-Bissau: Truth, Knowledge, History Of The West African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Guinea-Bissau

Introduction Since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced considerable political and military upheaval. In 1980, a military coup established authoritarian dictator Joao Bernardo ‘Nino’ VIEIRA as president. Despite setting a path to a market economy and multiparty system, VIEIRA’s regime was characterized by the suppression of political opposition and the purging of political rivals. Several coup attempts through the 1980’s and early 1990s failed to unseat him. In 1994 VIEIRA was elected president in the country’s first free elections. A military mutiny and resulting civil war in 1998 eventually led to VIEIRA’s ouster in May 1999. In February 2000, a transitional government turned over power to opposition leader Kumba YALA, after he was elected president in transparent polling. In September 2003, after only three years in office, YALA was ousted by the military in a bloodless coup, and businessman Henrique ROSA was sworn in as interim president. In 2005, former President VIEIRA was re-elected president pledging to pursue economic development and national reconciliation.
History Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu (Kaabu), part of the Mali Empire; parts of the kingdom persisted until the eighteenth century. Although the rivers and coast of this area were among the first places colonized by the Portuguese, who began slave trade in the seventeenth century, the interior was not explored until the nineteenth century.

An armed rebellion beginning in 1956 by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) under the leadership of Amílcar Cabral gradually consolidated its hold on the country. Unlike guerrilla movements in other Portuguese colonies, the PAIGC rapidly extended its military control over large portions of the country, aided by the jungle-like terrain and large quantities of arms from Cuba, China, the Soviet Union, and other African countries. Cuba also agreed to supply artillery experts, doctors and technicians.[1] The PAIGC even managed to acquire a significant anti-aircraft capability in order to defend itself against aerial attack. By 1973, the PAIGC was in control of most of the country. Independence was unilaterally declared on September 24, 1973, and was recognized by a 93-7 UN General Assembly vote in November 1973. [1] Recognition became universal following the 1974 socialist-inspired military coup in Portugal.

Following independence massive crimes against humanity happened, with the extermination of the local soldiers that fought along the Portuguese army. Thousands were killed, only a few escaped to Portugal or other African nations. The most famous massacre occurred in Bissorã. In 1980 PAIGC admitted in its newspaper “Nó Pintcha” (29/11/1980) that many were executed and buried in unmarked collective graves in the woods of Cumerá, Portogole and Mansabá.

The country was controlled by a revolutionary council until 1984. The first multi-party elections were held in 1994, but an army uprising in 1998 led to the president’s ousting and the Guinea-Bissau Civil War. Elections were held in 2000 and Kumba Ialá was elected president.

In September 2003, a coup took place in which the military arrested Ialá on the charge of being “unable to solve the problems.” After being delayed several times, legislative elections were held in March 2004 . A mutiny of military factions in October 2004 resulted in the death of the head of the armed forces, and caused widespread unrest.

In June 2005, presidential elections were held for the first time since the coup that deposed Ialá. Ialá returned as the candidate for the PRS, claiming to be the legitimate president of the country, but the election was won by former president João Bernardo Vieira, deposed in the 1998 coup. Vieira was a candidate for one of the factions of the PAIGC. Vieira beat Malam Bacai Sanhá in a runoff-election, but Sanhá refused initially to concede, claiming that the elections have been fraudulent in two constituencies, including the capital Bissau.

Despite reports that there had been an influx of arms in the weeks leading up to the election and reports of some ‘disturbances during campaigning’ – including attacks on the presidential palace and the Interior Ministry by as-yet-unidentified gunmen – European monitors labelled the election as “calm and organized”.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal
Geographic coordinates: 12 00 N, 15 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 36,120 sq km
land: 28,000 sq km
water: 8,120 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than three times the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries: total: 724 km
border countries: Guinea 386 km, Senegal 338 km
Coastline: 350 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds
Terrain: mostly low coastal plain rising to savanna in east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location in the northeast corner of the country 300 m
Natural resources: fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, clay, granite, limestone, unexploited deposits of petroleum
Land use: arable land: 8.31%
permanent crops: 6.92%
other: 84.77% (2005)
Irrigated land: 250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 31 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.18 cu km/yr (13%/5%/82%)
per capita: 113 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season; brush fires
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; over fishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: this small country is swampy along its western coast and low-lying further inland
People Population: 1,472,780 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.2% (male 302,408/female 303,786)
15-64 years: 55.8% (male 394,799/female 427,055)
65 years and over: 3% (male 18,463/female 26,269) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 19.1 years
male: 18.5 years
female: 19.7 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.052% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 36.81 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 16.29 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.995 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.924 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.703 male(s)/female
total population: 0.945 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 103.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 113.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 93.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 47.18 years
male: 45.37 years
female: 49.04 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.79 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 10% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 17,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 1,200 (2001 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoa diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: sadomasochist
respiratory disease: pneumococcal meningitis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Guinean(s)
adjective: Guinean
Ethnic groups: African 99% (includes Balanta 30%, Fula 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%), European and mulatto less than 1%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%
Languages: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.4%
male: 58.1%
female: 27.4%

Uganda landslide near Mount Elgon kills more than 30

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Uganda landslide near Mount Elgon kills more than 30

A torrent of mud and water swept houses away

A landslide following heavy rains in eastern Uganda has killed more than 30 people.

It is feared that the death toll could rise as a government rescue team reaches the Mount Elgon area.

A river burst its banks and a torrent of mud and water swept villages away. Pictures from the scene show people retrieving bodies from the mud and carrying them away.

A landslide in the same region, Bududa, killed more than 300 people in 2010.

It is a mountainous place with volcanic soils that are rich for agriculture, but it is also densely populated, which puts a lot of pressure on arable land, reports the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire in the capital, Kampala.

Image caption Bududa has fertile soils which draw people to the area despite the dangers

After previous disasters, people have been told to move away but many return because of the fertility of the land and their attachment to their ancestral home.

The Uganda Red Cross says that 36 bodies have been recovered, but a local official quoted by the Daily Monitor newspaper has said 40 bodies have been found so far.

“When the water flowed down it brought a number of big stones with it that destroyed people’s houses,” Red Cross spokeswoman Irene Nakasiita told AFP news agency.

The prime minister’s office has sent a team to assist with the search and recovery efforts, which were set to continue on Friday in the difficult hilly terrain.

Map showing location of Elgon

Related Topics

More on this story

  • Video Uganda mudslides: Why do villagers move back?
    2 May 2018

Africa

Tanzanian Ferry Capsizes, Killing at Least 131

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF NEW YORK)

 

Tanzanian Ferry Capsizes, Killing at Least 131

Image
Rescue workers on Friday recovered the body of a woman who was killed after a ferry overturned on Lake Victoria. Credit Reuters

NAIROBI, Kenya — The death toll from the capsizing of a Tanzanian ferry on Lake Victoria had climbed to at least 131 people and could rise further, officials said on Friday as they vowed to investigate the disaster.

Exactly how many people were on board the ferry, the MV Nyerere, remains unclear, as the authorities fear that the person who had handled ticketing was among those who drowned. But some estimates put the number of passengers on the boat when it overturned on Thursday at more than 300, according to Reuters.

Officials say the ferry appears to have been overloaded, with far more passengers than was advisable. One local official said the ferry’s capacity was 100 passengers.

By Friday evening, dozens of survivors and 131 bodies had been pulled from the water, and identification of the victims was underway, said Isack Kamwelwe, Tanzania’s minister for communication, transport and infrastructure. The numbers mounted steadily as the day went on, and officials cautioned that the death toll could continue to rise.

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More than 24 hours after the tragedy, with hopes dimming for finding anyone still alive, Mr. Kamwelwe said the government’s search for survivors was at an end.

The inspector general of the Tanzanian police, Simon Sirro, said a special investigation into the accident would be conducted.

Image
Officials said the ferry appeared to have been overloaded, with far more passengers than was advisable. Credit Stephen Msengi

President John Magufuli declared a three-day mourning period, beginning Saturday. Mr. Kamwelwe said the funerals for the victims would be a national event, with the country’s leaders participating.

The ferry, managed by Tanzania’s Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, had been traveling between two islands — Ukara and Ukerewe — when it capsized Thursday afternoon, according to local reports. The islands are on the southern, Tanzanian side of the lake, which is shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The ferry journey takes about an hour.

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Thursday is a big market day on Ukerewe, and the MV Nyerere is typically more crowded on that day than some other weekdays, local residents said. Many of those on the boat on Thursday were returning home to the smaller Ukara Island after shopping on Ukerewe, residents said. As the ferry approached the shore around 2 p.m., many passengers appear to have rushed to the front of the boat, to get in position to disembark quickly.

The ferry was only 100 or 200 meters from shore, when “the balance of the boat was overwhelmed and it started to capsize,” said the commissioner for the local Mwanza region, John Mongella.

On the shore, dozens of people began to scream in horror and helplessness as they watched the ferry overturn. It was clear to those on shore that many people were caught underneath.

One witness, Abdallah Mohammed, said that nearby fishing boats had converged on the ferry in an attempt to rescue as many people as they could.

“The ferry continued going down as people yelled for help,” Mr. Mohammed said.

Officials said that the ferry had an overall capacity of 100 people, 25 tons of cargo and three vehicles. A new engine was installed as recently as June, officials said.

Lake Victoria, where old ferries are often overloaded with passengers, has been the site of several maritime disasters, including the 1996 sinking of a Tanzanian ferry, the MV Bukoba. The death toll in that accident was at least several hundred, and some estimates put it over 1,000.

Kenya: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This East African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Kenya

Introduction Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform. KIBAKI’s NARC coalition splintered in 2005 over the constitutional review process. Government defectors joined with KANU to form a new opposition coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement, which defeated the government’s draft constitution in a popular referendum in November 2005. A disputed presidential election victory by KIBAKI over challenger Raila ODINGA in December 2007 led to widespread rioting. Following talks, the two candidates agreed to an accord establishing the office of prime minister and the creation of a coalition government.
History Palaeontologists have discovered many fossils of prehistoric animals in Kenya. At one of the rare dinosaur fossil sites in Africa, two hundred Cretaceous theropod and giant crocodile fossils have been discovered in Kenya, dating from the Mesozoic Era, over 200 million years ago. The fossils were found in an excavation conducted by a team from the University of Utah and the National Museums of Kenya in July-August 2004 at Lokitaung Gorge, near Lake Turkana.[7]

Fossils found in East Africa suggest that primates roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya’s Lake Turkana indicate that hominids such as Homo habilis (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus (1.8 million to 350,000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens and lived in Kenya during the Pleistocene epoch. In 1984 one particular discovery made at Lake Turkana by famous palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu was the skeleton of a Turkana boy belonging to Homo erectus from 1.6 million years ago. Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified to Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, who are responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.

Pre-colonial history

Cushitic-speaking people from northern Africa moved into the area that is now Kenya beginning around 2000 BC. Arab traders began frequenting the Kenya coast around the 1st century AD. Kenya’s proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century. During the first millennium AD, Nilotic and Bantu-speaking peoples moved into the region, and the latter now comprise three-quarters of Kenya’s population.

In the centuries preceding colonization, the Swahili coast of Kenya was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands some time around the year 1700.). Initially these traders came mainly from Arab states, but later many also came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip).

Swahili, a Bantu language with many Arabic loan words, developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.

The Luo of Kenya descend from early agricultural and herding communities from western Kenya’s early pre-colonial history. The Luo people and dialects of their language have historic roots across the Lake Victoria region. Chief among the powerful families to which the Luo trace their ancestry were the Sahkarias of Kano, the Jaramogis of Ugenya, and the Owuors of Kisumo, whose clans married several wives and had multitudes of grandchildren and heirs to various chieftainships. Leaders of these lineages typically had multiple wives and intermarried with their neighbours in Uganda and Sudan. The Luo tribe, through intermarriages and wars, are part of the genetic admixture that includes all modern East African ethnic groups as well as members of Buganda Kingdom, the Toro Kingdom, and the Nubians of modern day Sudan. In recent times, the Luo have had many enemies with whom they fought for access to water, cattle, and land including the Nandi, Kipsigis and the Kisii. As a result of these wars were peace treaties and intermarriages were resolved resulting in a mixture of cultural ideals and practices. As with all so-called tribes of modern day East Africa, Luo history is intricately interwoven with the histories of their friends, enemies and neighbours and attest to the complexity of East African precolonial history.

Colonial history

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the region of current-day Kenya, Vasco da Gama having visited Mombasa in 1498. Gama’s voyage was successful in reaching India and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading networks of mixed land and sea routes, such as the Spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean. The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. After traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks, Portugal hoped to use the sea route pioneered by Gama to break the once Venetian trading monopoly. Portuguese rule in East Africa focused mainly on a coastal strip centred in Mombasa. The Portuguese presence in East Africa officially began after 1505, when flagships under the command of Don Francisco de Almeida conquered Kilwa, an island located in what is now southern Tanzania. In March 1505, having received from Manuel I the appointment of viceroy of the newly conquered territory in India, he set sail from Lisbon in command of a large and powerful fleet, and arrived in July at Quiloa (Kilwa), which yielded to him almost without a struggle. A much more vigorous resistance was offered by the Moors of Mombasa, but the town was taken and destroyed, and its large treasures went to strengthen the resources of Almeida. Attacks followed on Hoja (now known as Ungwana, located at the mouth of the Tana River), Barawa, Angoche, Pate and other coastal towns until the western Indian Ocean was a safe haven for Portuguese commercial interests. At other places on his way, such as the island of Angediva, near Goa, and Cannanore, the Portuguese built forts, and adopted measures to secure the Portuguese supremacy. Portugal’s main goal in the east coast of Africa was take control of the spice trade from the Arabs. At this stage, the Portuguese presence in East Africa served the purpose of control trade within the Indian Ocean and secure the sea routes linking Europe to Asia. Portuguese naval vessels were very disruptive to the commerce of Portugal’s enemies within the western Indian Ocean and were able to demand high tariffs on items transported through the sea due to their strategic control of ports and shipping lanes. The construction of Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1593 was meant to solidify Portuguese hegemony in the region, but their influence was clipped by the British, Dutch and Omani Arab incursions into the region during the 17th century. The Omani Arabs posed the most direct challenge to Portuguese influence in East Africa and besieged Portuguese fortresses, openly attacked naval vessels and expelled the remaining Portuguese from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts by 1730. By this time the Portuguese Empire had already lost its interest on the spice trade sea route due to the decreasing profitability of that business.

Omani Arab colonization of the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts brought the once independent city-states under closer foreign scrutiny and domination than was experienced during the Portuguese period. Like their predecessors, the Omani Arabs were primarily able only to control the coastal areas, not the interior. However, the creation of clove plantations, intensification of the slave trade and relocation of the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1839 by Seyyid Said had the effect of consolidating the Omani power in the region. Arab governance of all the major ports along the East African coast continued until British interests aimed particularly at ending the slave trade and creation of a wage-labour system began to put pressure on Omani rule. By the late nineteenth century, the slave trade on the open seas had been completely outlawed by the British and the Omani Arabs had little ability to resist the Royal Navy’s ability to enforce the directive. The Omani presence continued in Zanzibar and Pemba until the 1964 revolution, but the official Omani Arab presence in Kenya was checked by German and British seizure of key ports and creation of crucial trade alliances with influential local leaders in the 1880s. However, the Omani Arab legacy in East Africa is currently found through their numerous descendants found along the coast that can directly trace ancestry to Oman and are typically the wealthiest and most politically influential members of the Kenyan coastal community.

However, most historians consider that the colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar’s coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This followed the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway passing through the country. This was resisted by some tribes, notably the Nandi led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1895 to 1905, the British eventually built the railway. It is believed that the Nandi were the first tribe to be put in a native reserve to stop them from disrupting the building of the railway. During the railway construction era, there was a significant inflow of Indian peoples who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction. These people remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili muslim and Sikh communities.

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. However Lt Col Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany by the Royal Navy, von Lettow conducted an effective guerilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow the British deployed Indian Army troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior by foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and were offered undue political powers because of their effects on the economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu tribe, most of whom had no land claims in European terms (but the land belonged to the ethnic group), and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled.

In 1951, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice in Kenya (coming from Ceylon, where he had also been Chief Justice) and sat in the Supreme Court in Nairobi. He held that position until 1954 when he became an Appeal Justice of the West African Court of Appeal. On the night of the death of King George VI, 5 February 1952, Hearne escorted The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, as she then was, to a state dinner at the Treetops Hotel, which is now a very popular tourist retreat. It was there that she “went up a princess and came down a Queen”.[8] She returned immediately to England, accompanied by Hearne.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King’s African Rifles. In January 1953, Major General Hinde was appointed as director of counter-insurgency operations. The situation did not improve for lack of intelligence, so General Sir George Erskine was appointed commander-in-chief of the colony’s armed forces in May 1953, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.

The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (a.k.a. General China) on 15 January 1954 and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954 after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege, and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. May 1953 also saw the Home Guard officially recognized as a branch of the Security Forces. The Home Guard formed the core of the government’s anti-Mau Mau strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King’s African Rifles. By the end of the emergency the Home Guard had killed 4,686 Mau Mau, amounting to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on 21 October 1956 in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive.

Post-colonial history

The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to “moderate” African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on 12 December 1963. During the same year, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War against ethnic Somalis determined to see the NFD join with the Republic of Somalia. The Shiftas inflicted heavy casualties on the Kenyan armed forces but were defeated in 1967.

Kenya, fearing an invasion from militarily stronger Somalia, in 1969 signed a defence pact with Ethiopia which is still in effect[2]. Suffering from droughts and floods, NFD is the least developed region in Kenya. However, since the 1990s, Somali refugees-turned-wealthy businessmen have managed to transform the one-time slum of Eastleigh into the most prosperous commercial centre of Eastlands and increasingly much of Nairobi.[3]

In 1964, Kenyatta became Kenya’s first president. At Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President. Daniel arap Moi retained the Presidency, being unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 (snap elections) and 1988, all of which were held under the single party constitution. The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on 1 August 1982.

The abortive coup was masterminded by a lowly ranked Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and was staged mainly by enlisted men in the Air Force. The attempt was quickly suppressed by Loyalist forces led by the Army, the General Service Unit (GSU) — a paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police, but not without civilian casualties. This event led to the disbanding of the entire Air Force and a large number of its former members were either dismissed or court-martialled.

The election held in 1988 saw the advent of the mlolongo (queuing) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their favoured candidates instead of a secret ballot[citation needed]. This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious clauses, including one that allowed for only one political party were changed in the following years[citation needed]. In democratic, multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running, and Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition “National Rainbow Coalition” — NARC, was elected President. The elections, judged free and fair by local and international observers, marked a turning point in Kenya’s democratic evolution. Kenya is one of the most politically distinguished countries in Africa

Geography Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 582,650 sq km
land: 569,250 sq km
water: 13,400 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Nevada
Land boundaries: total: 3,477 km
border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km
Coastline: 536 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior
Terrain: low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kenya 5,199 m
Natural resources: limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 8.01%
permanent crops: 0.97%
other: 91.02% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,030 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 30.2 cu km (1990)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.58 cu km/yr (30%/6%/64%)
per capita: 46 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: recurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons
Environment – current issues: water pollution from urban and industrial wastes; degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; poaching
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value
 
People Population: 37,953,838
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.2% (male 8,065,789/female 7,953,077)
15-64 years: 55.2% (male 10,498,468/female 10,434,764)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 457,886/female 543,854) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18.6 years
male: 18.5 years
female: 18.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.758% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 37.89 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.3 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 56.01 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 58.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 53.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 56.64 years
male: 56.42 years
female: 56.87 years

Lesotho: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Lesotho

Introduction Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. The Basuto National Party ruled for the first two decades. King MOSHOESHOE was exiled in 1990, but returned to Lesotho in 1992 and was reinstated in 1995. Constitutional government was restored in 1993 after seven years of military rule. In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody intervention by South African and Botswanan military forces under the aegis of the Southern African Development Community. Subsequent constitutional reforms restored relative political stability. Peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002, but the National Assembly elections of February 2007 were hotly contested and aggrieved parties continue to periodically demonstrate their distrust of the results.
History The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers. They were largely replaced by Bantu-speaking tribes during Bantu migrations.

The present Lesotho emerged as a single polity under paramount chief Moshoeshoe I in 1822. It was recognized by the United Kingdom on 13 December 1843, and on 12 March 1868 became one of the High Commission Territories. On 30 April 1965 it was granted autonomy. Its name changed when Lesotho gained full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations on October 4, 1966.

In January 1970 the ruling Basotho National Party (BNP) lost the first post-independence general elections, with 23 seats to the Basutoland Congress Party’s 36. Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan refused to cede power to the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), declared himself Tona Kholo (Sesotho translation of prime minister),[citation needed] and imprisoned the BCP leadership.

The BCP began a rebellion and then received training in Libya for its Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) under the pretence of being Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) soldiers of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). Deprived of arms and supplies by the Sibeko faction of the PAC in 1978, the 178-strong LLA was rescued from their Tanzanian base by the financial assistance of a Maoist PAC officer but launched the guerrilla war with a handful of old weapons. The main force was defeated in northern Lesotho and later guerrillas launched sporadic but usually ineffectual attacks. The campaign was severely compromised when BCP’s leader, Ntsu Mokhehle, went to Pretoria. In the early 1980s, several Basotho who sympathized with the exiled BCP were threatened with death and attacked by the government of Leabua Jonathan. In September 1981 the family of Benjamin Masilo was attacked. A few days later, Edgar Mahlomola Motuba was taken from his home and murdered.

The BNP ruled by decree until January 1986 when a military coup forced it out of office. The Military Council that came to power granted executive powers to King Moshoeshoe II, who was until then a ceremonial monarch. But in 1987 the King was forced into exile after a falling out with the army. His son was installed as King Letsie III.

The chairman of the military junta, Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya, was ousted in 1991 and replaced by Major General Elias Phisoana Ramaema, who handed over power to a democratically elected government of the BCP in 1993. Moshoeshoe II returned from exile in 1992 as an ordinary citizen. After the return to democratic government, King Letsie III tried unsuccessfully to persuade the BCP government to reinstate his father (Moshoeshoe II) as head of state.

In August 1994, Letsie III staged a military-backed coup that deposed the BCP government. The new government did not receive full international recognition. Member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) engaged in negotiations to reinstate the BCP government. One of the conditions Letsie III put forward for this was that his father should be re-installed as head of state. After protracted negotiations, the BCP government was reinstated and Letsie III abdicated in favor of his father in 1995, but Moshoeshoe II died in a car ‘accident’ in 1996 and was again succeeded by his son.

In 1997, the ruling BCP split over leadership disputes. Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle formed a new party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), and was followed by a majority of Members of Parliament, which enabled him to form a new government. Pakalitha Mosisili succeeded Mokhehle as party leader and the LCD won the general elections in 1998. Although the elections were pronounced free and fair by local and international observers and a subsequent special commission appointed by SADC, the opposition political parties rejected the results.

Opposition protests in the country intensified, culminating in a peaceful demonstration outside the royal palace in August 1998. Exact details of what followed are greatly disputed and it remain contested even within South Africa, but in September that year, a SADC task force operating on orders of unclear provenance entered the capital Maseru. While the Botswana Defence Force troops were welcomed, tensions with South African National Defence Force troops were high, resulting in fighting. Incidences of sporadic rioting intensified when South African troops hoisted a South African flag over the Royal Palace. By the time the SADC forces withdrew in May 1999, much of Maseru lay in ruins, and the southern provincial capital towns of Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek had seen the loss of over a third of their commercial real estate. A number of South Africans and Basotho also died in the fighting.

An Interim Political Authority (IPA), charged with reviewing the electoral structure in the country, was created in December 1998. The IPA devised a proportional electoral system to ensure that the opposition would be represented in the National Assembly. The new system retained the existing 80 elected Assembly seats, but added 40 seats to be filled on a proportional basis. Elections were held under this new system in May 2002, and the LCD won again, gaining 54% of the vote. But for the first time, opposition political parties won significant numbers of seats, and despite some irregularities and threats of violence from Major General Lekhanya, Lesotho experienced its first peaceful election. Nine opposition parties now hold all 40 of the proportional seats, with the BNP having the largest share (21). The LCD has 79 of the 80 constituency-based seats. Although its elected members participate in the National Assembly, the BNP has launched several legal challenges to the elections, including a recount; none has been successful.

Geography Location: Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa
Geographic coordinates: 29 30 S, 28 30 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 30,355 sq km
land: 30,355 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 909 km
border countries: South Africa 909 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
Terrain: mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m
highest point: Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m
Natural resources: water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone
Land use: arable land: 10.87%
permanent crops: 0.13%
other: 89% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 5.2 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.05 cu km/yr (40%/40%/20%)
per capita: 28 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: population pressure forcing settlement in marginal areas results in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, and soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project controls, stores, and redirects water to South Africa
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: landlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 meters above sea level
People Population: 2,128,180
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 35.3% (male 377,784/female 372,840)
15-64 years: 59.8% (male 621,687/female 649,981)
65 years and over: 5% (male 42,348/female 63,540) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 21.2 years
male: 20.6 years
female: 21.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.129% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 24.41 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 22.33 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 78.59 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 83.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 74.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 40.17 years
male: 40.97 years
female: 39.34 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 28.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 320,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 29,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)
adjective: Basotho
Ethnic groups: Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%,
Religions: Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
Languages: Sesotho (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.8%
male: 74.5%
female: 94.5%

Liberia: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This West African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Liberia

Introduction Settlement of freed slaves from the US in what is today Liberia began in 1822; by 1847, the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. William TUBMAN, president from 1944-71, did much to promote foreign investment and to bridge the economic, social, and political gaps between the descendents of the original settlers and the inhabitants of the interior. In 1980, a military coup led by Samuel DOE ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In December 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion against DOE’s regime that led to a prolonged civil war in which DOE himself was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 allowed for elections that brought TAYLOR to power, but major fighting resumed in 2000. An August 2003, peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who faces war crimes charges in The Hague related to his involvement in Sierra Leone’s civil war. After two years of rule by a transitional government, democratic elections in late 2005 brought President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF to power. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) maintains a strong presence throughout the country, but the security situation is still fragile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country will take many years.
History Indigenous peoples of West Africa

Anthropological research shows the region of Liberia was inhabited at least as far back as the 12th century, perhaps earlier. Mende speaking people expanded westward, forcing many smaller ethnic groups southward towards the Atlantic sea. The Deys, Bassa, Kru, Gola and Gissi were some of the earliest recorded arrivals. [3] This influx was compounded during the ancient decline of the Western Sudanic Mali Empire in 1375 and later in 1591 with the Songhai Empire. Additionally, inland regions underwent desertification, and inhabitants were pressured to move to the wetter Pepper Coast. These new inhabitants brought skills such as cotton spinning, cloth weaving, iron smelting, rice and sorghum cultivation, and social and political institutions from the Mali and Songhay Empires.

Shortly after the Manes conquered the region there was a migration of the Vai people into the region of Grand Cape Mount. The Vai were part of the Mali Empire who were forced to migrate when the empire collapsed in the fourteenth century. The Vai chose to migrate to the coastal region.

The ethnic Kru opposed the migration of the Vai into their region. An alliance of the Manes and Kru were able to stop the further migration of the Vai but the Vai remained in the Grand Cape Mount region (where the city of Robertsport is now located).

Littoral coast people built canoes and traded with other West Africans from Cap-Vert to the Gold Coast. Later European traders would barter various commodities and goods with local people, sometimes hoisting their canoes aboard. When the Kru began trading with Europeans, they initially traded in non-slave commodities but later became active participants in the African slave trade.

Kru laborers left their territory to work on plantations and in construction as paid laborers. Some even worked building the Suez and Panama Canals.

Another tribal group in the area was the Glebo. The Glebo were driven, as a result of the Manes invasion, to migrate to the coast of what later became Liberia.

Settlers from the United States

In 1822, the American Colonization Society established Liberia as a place to send freed African-American slaves. [5] African-Americans gradually migrated to the colony and became known as Americo-Liberians, where many present day Liberians trace their ancestry. On July 26, 1847, the Americo-Liberian settlers declared the independence of the Republic of Liberia.

The settlers regarded Africa as a “Promised Land”, but they did not integrate into an African society. Once in Africa, they referred to themselves as “Americans” and were recognized as such by local Africans and by British colonial authorities in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The symbols of their state — its flag, motto, and seal — and the form of government that they chose reflected their American background and diaspora experience. Lincoln University (founded as Ashmun Institute for educating young blacks in Pennsylvania in 1854) played an important role in supplying Americo-Liberians leadership for the new Nation. The first graduating class of Lincoln University, James R. Amos, his brother Thomas H. Amos, and Armistead Miller sailed for Liberia on the brig Mary C. Stevens in April, 1859 after graduation.

Indigenous Liberian women in 1910.

The religious practices, social customs and cultural standards of the Americo-Liberians had their roots in the antebellum American South. These ideals strongly influenced the attitudes of the settlers toward the indigenous African people. The new nation, as they perceived it, was coextensive with the settler community and with those Africans who were assimilated into it. Mutual mistrust and hostility between the “Americans” along the coast and the “Natives” of the interior was a recurrent theme in the country’s history, along with (usually successful) attempts by the Americo-Liberian minority to dominate what they identified to be savage native peoples. They named the land “Liberia,” which in the Romance languages, and in Latin in particular, means “Land of the Free,” as an homage to their freedom from slavery.

Historically, Liberia has enjoyed the support and unofficial cooperation of the United States government [6]. Liberia’s government, modeled after that of the United States, was democratic in structure, if not always in substance. After 1877 the True Whig Party monopolized political power in the country, and competition for office was usually contained within the party, whose nomination virtually ensured election. Two problems confronting successive administrations were pressure from neighboring colonial powers, Britain and France, and the threat of financial insolvency, both of which challenged the country’s sovereignty. Liberia retained its independence during the Scramble for Africa, but lost its claim to extensive territories that were annexed by Britain and France. Economic development was hindered by the decline of markets for Liberian goods in the late nineteenth century and by indebtedness on a series of loans, payments on which drained the economy.

Significant mid-twentieth century events

Two events were of particular importance in releasing Liberia from its self-imposed isolation. The first was the grant in 1926 of a large concession to the American-owned Firestone Plantation Company; that move became a first step in the (limited) modernization of the Liberian economy. The second occurred during World War II, when the United States began providing technical and economic assistance that enabled Liberia to make economic progress and introduce social change.

In a late night raid on April 12, 1980, a successful military coup was staged by a group of noncommissioned army officers led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe. The soldiers were a mixture of the various ethnic groups that had claimed marginalization from the hands of the minority Americo-Liberian settlers. They killed William R. Tolbert, Jr. in his mansion. He had been president for nine years. Constituting themselves the People’s Redemption Council, Doe and his associates seized control of the government and brought an end to Africa’s first republic. Significantly, Doe was the first Liberian head of state who was not a member of the Americo-Liberian elite. In the early 1980s, the United States provided Liberia more than $500 million for pushing the Soviet Union out of the country, and for providing the US exclusive rights to use Liberia’s ports and land (including allowing the CIA to use Liberian territory to spy on Libya).

Doe favored authoritarian policies, banning newspapers and outlawing various opposition parties. His tactic was to brand popular opposition parties as “socialist”, and therefore illegal according to the Liberian constitution, while allowing less popular minor parties to remain as a token opposition. Unfortunately for Doe, popular support would then tend to realign behind one of these smaller parties, causing them to be labeled “socialist” in their turn.

In October 1985, Liberia held the first post-coup elections, ostensibly to legitimize Doe’s regime. Virtually all international observers agreed that the Liberia Action Party (LAP) led by Jackson Doe (no relation) had won the election by a clear margin. After a week of counting the votes, however, Samuel Doe fired the count officials and replaced them with his own Special Election Committee (SECOM), which announced that Samuel Doe’s ruling National Democratic Party of Liberia had won with 50.9% of the vote. In response, on November 12th, a counter-coup was launched by Thomas Quiwonkpa, whose soldiers briefly occupied the Executive Mansion and the national radio station, with widespread support throughout the country. Three days later, Quiwonkpa’s coup was overthrown. Following this failed coup, government repression intensified, as Doe’s troops killed more than 2000 civilians and imprisoned more than 100 opposing politicians, including Jackson Doe, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and BBC journalist Isaac Bantu.

1989 and 2003 civil wars

In late 1989, a civil war began. The harsh dictatorial atmosphere that gripped the country was due in large part to Sergeant Samuel Doe’s rule. An Americo-Liberian named Charles Taylor with the backing of neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire entered Nimba County with around 100 men.[7] These fighters gained high levels of support with the local population who were disillusioned with their present government. A large section of the country came under the invaders’ control as a result. By this time a new player had also emerged. Yormie Prince Johnson (former ally of Taylor) had formed his own army and had gained tremendous support from the Gio and Mano ethnic groups.

In August 1990, the Economic Community Monitoring Group under the Economic Community of West African States organized its own military task force to intervene in the crisis. The troops were largely from Nigeria, Guinea and Ghana. After the meeting and on his way out, Doe who was traveling only with his personal staff, was ambushed and captured by members of the Gio Tribe who were loyal to Prince Yormie Johnson. The soldiers took him to the headquarters of Johnson in neighboring Caldwell, tortured and killed him.

With some financial support from the U.S., after prompting from Taylor that the Nigerians and Ghanainas were opposed to him, Senagalese troops were brought in.Their service were however shortlived, after a major outing with Taylor forces.

By September 1990 Doe’s forces controlled only a small area just outside the capital of Monrovia. After his death, and as a condition for the end of the conflict, interim president Amos Sawyer resigned in 1994, handing power to the Council of State. Prominent warlord Charles G. Taylor was elected as President in 1997, after leading a bloody insurgency backed by Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi. Taylor’s brutal regime targeted several leading opposition and political activists. In 1998, the government sought to assassinate child rights activist Kimmie Weeks for a report he had published on its involvement in the training of child soldiers, which forced him into exile. Taylor’s autocratic and dysfunctional government led to a new rebellion in 1999. More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the civil wars. The conflict intensified in mid-2003, and the fighting moved into Monrovia. As the power of the government shrank and with increasing international and American pressure for him to resign, President Taylor accepted an asylum offer from Nigeria, but vowed: “God willing, I will be back.” On March 29, 2006 he was extradited from Nigeria to Sierra Leone, where he had been indicted by the Special Court (a war crimes tribunal). Charles Taylor’s trial by that court is being held in the Hague, for security. He is charged with crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions and “other serous violations of international humanitarian law”.[8]

Transitional government and elections

After the exile of Taylor, Gyude Bryant was appointed Chairman of the transitional government in late 2003. Because of failures of the Transitional Government in curbing corruption, Liberia signed onto GEMAP, a novel anti-corruption program. The primary task of the transitional government was to prepare for fair and peaceful democratic elections. With UNMIL troops safeguarding the peace, Liberia successfully conducted presidential elections in the fall of 2005. Twenty three candidates stood for the October 11, 2005 general election, with the early favorite George Weah, internationally famous footballer, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and member of the Kru ethnic group expected to dominate the popular vote. No candidate took the required majority in the general election, so that a run-off between the top two vote getters, Weah and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, was necessary. The November 8, 2005 presidential runoff election was won decisively by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-trained economist. Both the general election and runoff were marked by peace and order, with thousands of Liberians waiting patiently in the Liberian heat to cast their ballots.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf presidency

Daughter of the first indigenous Liberian to be elected to the national legislature, Jahmale Carney Johnson, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was born in rural Liberia. Widely celebrated for being the first elected female head of state in Africa, Johnson-Sirleaf’s election focused much international attention on Liberia. A former Citibank and World Bank employee, Johnson-Sirleaf’s career also includes heading the U.N. Development Programme for Africa [3]. Johnson-Sirleaf was jailed twice during the Doe administration before escaping and going into exile. As president, Johnson-Sirleaf hopes to bring her credentials as an economist to bear and enlist the help of the international community in rebuilding Liberia’s economy and infrastructure. Her efforts to have Liberia’s external debt of $3.5 billion cancelled were at least partially rewarded on November 12, 2007, when the IMF agreed to begin providing debt relief.[9] She has extended a special invitation to the Nigerian business community to participate in business opportunities in Liberia, in part as thanks for Nigeria’s help in securing Liberia’s peace. Exiled Liberians are also investing in the country and participating in Liberia’s rebuilding efforts.

In addition to focusing her early efforts to restore basic services like water and electricity to the capital of Monrovia, Johnson-Sirleaf has established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address crimes committed during the later stages of Liberia’s long civil war.[10] She is also working to re-establish Liberia’s food independence. Johnson-Sirleaf also requested that Nigeria extradite accused war criminal and profiteer Charles Taylor.

Human rights situation

Amnesty International summarizes in its Annual Report 2006: “Sporadic outbreaks of violence continued to threaten prospects of peace. Former rebel fighters who should have been disarmed and demobilized protested violently when they did not receive benefits. Slow progress in reforming the police, judiciary and the criminal justice system resulted in systematic violations of due process and vigilante violence against criminal suspects. Laws establishing an Independent National Commission on Human Rights and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission were adopted. Over 200,000 internally displaced people and refugees returned to their homes, although disputes over land and property appropriated during the war raised ethnic tensions. UN sanctions on the trade in diamonds and timber were renewed. Those responsible for human rights abuses during the armed conflict continued to enjoy impunity. The UN Security Council gave peacekeeping forces in Liberia powers to arrest former President Taylor and transfer him to the Special Court for Sierra Leone if he should return from Nigeria, where he continued to receive asylum. Liberia made a commitment to abolish capital punishment. A new law on rape, which initially proposed imposition of the death penalty for gang rape, was amended to provide a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.” Former 22nd president Charles Taylor was later captured trying to escape across the border of Cameroon and has been sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for trial.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates: 6 30 N, 9 30 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 111,370 sq km
land: 96,320 sq km
water: 15,050 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Tennessee
Land boundaries: total: 1,585 km
border countries: Guinea 563 km, Cote d’Ivoire 716 km, Sierra Leone 306 km
Coastline: 579 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,380 m
Natural resources: iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 3.43%
permanent crops: 1.98%
other: 94.59% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 232 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.11 cu km/yr (27%/18%/55%)
per capita: 34 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)
Environment – current issues: tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: facing the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture
People Population: 3,334,587 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44% (male 734,375/female 731,287)
15-64 years: 53.3% (male 879,848/female 896,319)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 45,175/female 47,583) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18 years
male: 17.8 years
female: 18.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.661% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 42.92 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 21.45 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 15.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 143.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 159.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 127.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 41.13 years
male: 39.85 years
female: 42.46 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.87 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 5.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 100,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 7,200 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever
animal contact disease: rabies (2008)
Nationality: noun: Liberian(s)
adjective: Liberian
Ethnic groups: indigenous African 95% (including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, Dei, Bella, Mandingo, and Mende), Americo-Liberians 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the US who had been slaves), Congo People 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean who had been slaves)
Religions: Christian 40%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 40%
Languages: English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.5%
male: 73.3%
female: 41.6%