After years of brutal civil war, Sierra Leone is slowly emerging as a peaceful democracy with great potential. Its wealth in minerals and other natural resources, as well as its diverse tropical environment, have attracted much interest from business and tourism industries alike.
Due mainly to the country's legacy of strife, the quality of infrastructure and services are very poor. While there is great hope that influxes of money and investment will improve conditions in Sierra Leone, few benefits have materialized.
Sierra Leone is a constitutional democracy. The president is elected by popular vote to a five year term, for a maximum of two terms. Candidates must capture fifty-five percent of the popular vote in order to avoid a subsequent runoff election. The legislative branch consists of a 124 seat Parliament, representing Sierra Leone's fourteen districts. There are multiple political parties in Sierra Leone. The two most prominent parties are the All People's Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP). The judicial system is overseen by a High Court of Justice. Members of all courts are appointed by the president, and approved by Parliament.
The constitution of Sierra Leone, originally ratified in 1991, provides for freedom of religion and expression. The government largely adheres to those provisions, and religious and cultural conflict in the country is minimal.
Sierra Leone, while located in one of the most mineral-rich areas in the world, is regarded as having one of the least developed economies.
The country's wealth of natural resources have created both opportunity and strife over the years. Blood diamonds, locally mined gems sold to diamond conglomerates and neighboring countries by warlords, did much to finance and supply an eleven year civil war. After the end of conflict in 2002, the government has worked toward national economic progress and development by implementing privatization in some sectors, encouraging investment, and provide resources and training in key areas for its citizens. Results have been promising, but also slow to emerge. Among other challenges, unemployment remains quite high, trade output does not keep pace with self-sufficiency, and significant strides still need to be made in the development of sustainable industries.