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%

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%

Mauritania: Truth, Knowledge And History Of This West African Nation

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

 

Mauritania

Introduction Independent from France in 1960, Mauritania annexed the southern third of the former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) in 1976, but relinquished it after three years of raids by the Polisario guerrilla front seeking independence for the territory. Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed TAYA seized power in a coup in 1984 and ruled Mauritania with a heavy hand for over two decades. A series of presidential elections that he held were widely seen as flawed. A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President TAYA and ushered in a military council that oversaw a transition to democratic rule. Independent candidate Sidi Ould Cheikh ABDALLAHI was inaugurated in April 2007 as Mauritania’s first freely and fairly elected president. The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population (Afro-Mauritanians) and White and Black Moor (Arab-Berber) communities, although the new government is attempting to ameliorate some of these tensions.
History From the fifth to seventh centuries, the migration of Berber tribes from North Africa displaced the Bafours, the original inhabitants of present-day Mauritania and the ancestors of the Soninke. The Bafours were primarily agriculturalist, and among the first Saharan people to abandon their historically nomadic lifestyle. With the gradual desiccation of the Sahara, they headed south. Following them came a migration of not only Central Saharans into West Africa, but in 1076, Moorish Islamic warrior monks (Almoravid or Al Murabitun) attacked and conquered the ancient Ghana Empire. Over the next 500 years, Arabs overcame fierce resistance from the local population (Berber and non-Berber alike) and came to dominate Mauritania. The Mauritanian Thirty-Year War (1644-74) was the unsuccessful final effort to repel the Yemeni Maqil Arab invaders led by the Beni Hassan tribe. The descendants of the Beni Hassan warriors became the upper stratum of Moorish society. Berbers retained influence by producing the majority of the region’s Marabouts—those who preserve and teach Islamic tradition. Many of the Berber tribes claimed Yemeni (and sometimes other Arab) origin: there is little evidence to suggest this, though some studies do make a connection between the two. [2] Hassaniya, a Berber-influenced Arabic dialect that derives its name from the Beni Hassan, became the dominant language among the largely nomadic population.

French colonization gradually absorbed the territories of present-day Mauritania from the Senegal river area and upwards, starting in the late 1800s. In 1901, Xavier Coppolani took charge of the colonial mission. Through a combination of strategic alliances with Zawiya tribes and military pressure on the Hassane warrior nomads, he managed to extend French rule over the Mauritanian emirates: Trarza, Brakna and Tagant quickly submitted to treaties with the colonial power (1903-04), but the northern emirate of Adrar held out longer, aided by the anticolonial rebellion (or jihad) of shaykh Maa al-Aynayn. It was finally defeated militarily in 1912, and incorporated into the territory of Mauritania, which had been drawn up in 1904. Mauritania would subsequently form part of French West Africa, from 1920.

French rule brought legal prohibitions against slavery and an end to interclan warfare. During the colonial period, the population remained nomadic, but many sedentary peoples, whose ancestors had been expelled centuries earlier, began to trickle back into Mauritania. As the country gained independence in 1960, the capital city Nouakchott was founded at the site of a small colonial village, the Ksar, while 90% of the population was still nomadic. With independence, larger numbers of indigenous Sub-Saharan African peoples (Haalpulaar, Soninke, and Wolof) entered Mauritania, moving into the area north of the Senegal River. Educated in French language and customs, many of these recent arrivals became clerks, soldiers, and administrators in the new state. This, occurring as France militarily suppressed the most intransigent hassane tribes of the Moorish north, shifted old balances of power, and created new cause for conflict between the southern populations and Moors. Between these groups stood the Haratin, a very large population of Arabized slaves, who lived within Moorish society, integrated into a low-caste social position. Modern day slavery is still a common practice in this country.[1]

Moors reacted to the change, and to Arab nationalist calls from abroad, by increasing pressure to Arabize many aspects of Mauritanian life, such as law and language. A schism developed between those Moors who consider Mauritania to be an Arab country and those who seek a dominant role for the non-Moorish peoples, with various models for containing the country’s cultural diversity suggested, but none implemented successfully. This ethnic discord was evident during intercommunal violence that broke out in April 1989 (the “1989 Events” and “Mauritania-Senegal Border War”), but has since subsided. The ethnic tension and the sensitive issue of slavery – past and, in some areas, present – is still a powerful theme in the country’s political debate. A significant number from all groups, however, seek a more diverse, pluralistic society.

Geography Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates: 20 00 N, 12 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 1,030,700 sq km
land: 1,030,400 sq km
water: 300 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than three times the size of New Mexico
Land boundaries: total: 5,074 km
border countries: Algeria 463 km, Mali 2,237 km, Senegal 813 km, Western Sahara 1,561 km
Coastline: 754 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
Terrain: mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sebkhet Te-n-Dghamcha -5 m
highest point: Kediet Ijill 915 m
Natural resources: iron ore, gypsum, copper, phosphate, diamonds, gold, oil, fish
Land use: arable land: 0.2%
permanent crops: 0.01%
other: 99.79% (2005)
Irrigated land: 490 sq km (2002)
Total renewable water resources: 11.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.7 cu km/yr (9%/3%/88%)
per capita: 554 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust/sand-laden sirocco wind blows primarily in March and April; periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: overgrazing, deforestation, and soil erosion aggravated by drought are contributing to desertification; limited natural fresh water resources away from the Senegal, which is the only perennial river; locust infestation
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: most of the population concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country
Politics Politics in Mauritania have always been determined by personalities and tribes more than ideologies, with any leader’s ability to exercise political power dependent upon control over resources; perceived ability and integrity; and tribal, ethnic, family, and personal considerations. Conflict between white Moor, black Moor (Haratine), and non-Moor ethnic groups (Haal Pulaars, Soninkes, Wolofs and Bambaras), centering on language, land tenure, and other issues, continues to be the dominant challenge to national unity.

The government bureaucracy is composed of traditional ministries, special agencies, and parastatal companies. The Ministry of Interior spearheads a system of regional governors and prefects modeled on the French system of local administration. Under this system, Mauritania is divided into thirteen regions (wilaya), including the capital district, Nouakchott. Control is tightly concentrated in the executive branch of the central government, but a series of national and municipal elections since 1992 have produced some limited decentralization.

Mauritania, along with Morocco, annexed the territory of Western Sahara in 1976, with Mauritania taking the lower one-third at the request of former colonial power, Spain. After several military losses to Polisario, heavily armed and supported by Algeria, the local hegemon and rival to Morocco, Mauritania retreated in 1979, and its claims were taken over by Morocco. Due to economic weakness, Mauritania has been a negligible player in the territorial dispute, with its official position being that it wishes for an expedient solution that is mutually agreeable to all parties. While most of the former Spanish or Western Sahara has been woven into Morocco, the UN still considers the Western Sahara a territory that needs to express its wishes with respect to statehood: a referendum is still supposed to be held sometimes in the future, under UN auspices, to determine whether the “saharaouis” wish to remain part of Morocco or not. The Moroccan authorities, on their part, wish the saharaouis to remain part of Morocco and, as such, have made significant investments in the area.

Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy signed an agreement in Washington DC, USA on October 28th,1999, establishing full diplomatic relations with Mauritania, an Islamic country and a member of the Arab League.

The signing ceremony was held at the U.S. State Department in the presence of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – who invited the Israeli Foreign Minister and his Mauritanian counterpart, Ahmed Sid’Ahmed, to sign the agreement in Washington DC. The United States of America views this important development as a product of, among other things, the September 24th,1999, New York City meeting initiated by the United States of America, and attended by the Foreign Ministers of Israel, Mauritania and a series of other Arab states.

Earlier this year, Israel announced its first project in Mauritania, an eye clinic operated by the Foreign Ministry’s Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV).

Both Israel and the United States view the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and Mauritania as a milestone in the promotion of normalization, which is widely seen as the goal of the peace process which has evolved since the Madrid Conference. Mauritania joins Egypt and Jordan as the only members of the Arab League to post ambassadors in Israel. The Israeli Foreign Ministry will continue to work for the development and strengthening of Israel’s relations with other countries in the region. On February 1, 2008 at least one gunman opened fire on the Israeli embassy, injuring at least three people [3]

On 31 January (2008) Permanent representative of Republic of Armenia to the United Nations (New York) Armen Martirosyan has signed a protocol with Abderahim Ould Hadrami (Mauritanian representative to UN) in New York establishing full diplomatic relations with Mauritania.

The discovery of oil in 2001 in the offshore Chinguetti deposit will be a test for the current government since, according to human rights activists, it can be a blessing for one of the poorest countries in the world as well as a curse bringing corruption and violence to the country.

People Population: 3,364,940 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 45.3% (male 763,845/female 759,957)
15-64 years: 52.5% (male 872,924/female 894,980)
65 years and over: 2.2% (male 29,147/female 44,087) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 17.2 years
male: 16.9 years
female: 17.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.852% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 40.14 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 11.61 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 66.65 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 69.69 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 63.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 53.91 years
male: 51.61 years
female: 56.28 years (2008 est.)

Ghana: History And Current Conditions

(This article is courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ghana (Listeni/ˈɡɑːnə/), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a sovereign unitary presidential constitutional democracy, located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2, Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. The word Ghana means “Warrior King” in the Soninke language.[10]

The territory of present-day Ghana has been inhabited for millennia, with the first permanent state dating back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti.[11] Beginning in the 15th century, numerous European powers contested the area for trading rights, with the British ultimately establishing control of the coast by the late 19th century. Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana’s current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. In 1957, it became the first Sub-Saharan African nation to declare independence from European colonization.[12][13][14]

A multicultural nation, Ghana has a population of approximately 27 million, spanning a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups.[5] Five percent of the population practices traditional faiths, 71.2% adhere to Christianity and 17.6% are Muslim. Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savanna’s to tropical jungles. Ghana is a democratic country led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government. Ghana’s economy is one of the strongest and most diversified in Africa, following a quarter century of relative stability and good governance.[15] Ghana’s growing economic prosperity and democratic political system has made it a regional power in West Africa.[16] It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of 24 (G24).[17]

At least 17 killed in Burkina Faso restaurant terror attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

At least 17 killed in Burkina Faso restaurant terror attack

Story highlights

  • Unknown number of assailants attacked restaurant Sunday night local time
  • Government spokesman called the raid a “terrorist attack”

(CNN) At least 17 people were killed and eight others wounded after a number of assailants attacked a restaurant in Burkina Faso around 9 p.m. local time Sunday (5 p.m. ET), according to state-run media RTB.

The attack took place in Ouagadougou, the capital of the West African nation. It’s not known how many attackers were involved.
Attackers barricaded themselves in the Istanbul restaurant on Avenue Kwame Nkrumah in the center of the city, RTB reports, citing authorities.
Burkina Faso Communications Minister Remis Dandjinou called the raid a “terrorist attack,” according to Reuters, and said the victims were from a number of countries. Efforts are underway to identify the bodies so the authorities can inform their families.
State media RTB reported that two “terrorists” had been killed.
After the attack, a security perimeter was established by the Defense and Security forces and all roads leading up to the Ouagadougou International Airport were closed.
The Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the incident.

Ongoing issue

Militants have targeted civilians in Burkina Faso previously, most notably in 2016 when attackers raided a luxury hotel in Ouagadougou, shooting some and taking others hostage in a siege that lasted hours and ended with 29 people dead.
An al Qaeda-linked terrorist group, Al-Mourabitoun, claimed responsibility for that assault, which had similarities to one at the Radisson Blu Hotel in neighboring Mali in November the previous year.
That attack left 22 people dead.

Ghana: History And Current Conditions

(This article is courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ghana (Listeni/ˈɡɑːnə/), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a sovereign unitary presidential constitutional democracy, located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2, Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. The word Ghana means “Warrior King” in the Soninke language.[10]

The territory of present-day Ghana has been inhabited for millennia, with the first permanent state dating back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti.[11] Beginning in the 15th century, numerous European powers contested the area for trading rights, with the British ultimately establishing control of the coast by the late 19th century. Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana’s current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. In 1957, it became the first Sub-Saharan African nation to declare independence from European colonization.[12][13][14]

A multicultural nation, Ghana has a population of approximately 27 million, spanning a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups.[5] Five percent of the population practices traditional faiths, 71.2% adhere to Christianity and 17.6% are Muslim. Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savanna’s to tropical jungles. Ghana is a democratic country led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government. Ghana’s economy is one of the strongest and most diversified in Africa, following a quarter century of relative stability and good governance.[15] Ghana’s growing economic prosperity and democratic political system has made it a regional power in West Africa.[16] It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of 24 (G24).[17]