Lying on the Atlantic in the southern part of West Africa, Liberia is bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. Liberia is a long and narrow country. On the coastline there are mangrove swamps, lagoons and sandbars which continue into rolling hills and some low mountains in the northeast. These low hills are covered by rain forests. The climate is tropical with high humidity and temperatures from 20 to 35 degrees Celsius year around.
Africa¥s first republic, Liberia, was founded in 1822, as a result of the efforts of the American Colonization Society to set free American slaves in West Africa. Thousands of freed slaves and free African-Americans arrived in the years ahead and in 1847 the colony became the Free and Independent Republic of Liberia.
The English-speaking Americo-Liberians make up only 5 % of the population, but have historically dominated the intellectual and ruling class. Liberia¥s indigenous population is composed of 16 different ethnic groups.
The West African nation was relatively calm until 1980, when the president at the time, William Tolbert, after a period of food price riots, was executed in a military coop carried out by Sergeant Samuel Doe. The coup marked the end of the dominance of the minority Americo-Liberians, who had ruled since independence, and a period of instability started.
In 1989 a civil war was started when the guerilla group National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) crossed the border from Ivory Coast. NPFL was led by Charles Taylor, a former high government official, who had gone into exile accused of embezzlement.
Until 2003 the country was ravaged by civil war and coups. Around 250,000 people were killed in Liberia¥s civil war and many thousands fled the fighting. The conflict left the country in economic ruin and overrun with weapons. Large quantities of diamonds and other valuable minerals had been smuggled out of the country. The capital remained without electricity and running water. Corruption was widespread and unemployment and illiteracy endemic.
After mediation efforts and international pressure, a peace agreement was signed in August of 2003 between the Government of Liberia, various rebel movements and political parties. The president, the former rebel leader Charles Taylor, left Liberia as a part of the peace agreement. By the time he was exiled, Taylor had bankrupted his own country, and he left Liberia behind as the world¥s poorest nation.
A transitional government steered the country toward elections in 2005. In November 2005, in the first free and fair election ever taking place in Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia and became the first woman to lead an African nation. She began the process of rebuilding the shattered infrastructure and the greatest challenges has been fighting corruption, secure the access to clean water, electricity and roads and disarm the different rebel groups. Johnson-Sirleaf received renewed confidence in the elections of 2011, when she won the elections for the second time.
Many children and young people under 30 carry deep scars from growing up during the war. They had to leave school and tried to escape violence, but many were captured by the rebels. They became child soldiers and were forced to carry arms and ammunition, and many girls were also raped and in other ways violated. Many of the child soldiers were forced to kill, commit terrible acts of violence and witness other horrors. After the war other problems occurred. The child soldiers had to go home to their families again, but many were not welcome home because of the horrible crimes they had committed. Many of those child soldiers can not read or support themselves. There is a great risk that they again resort to violence in order to survive. Different organizations make various efforts to help these children.
7 december 2013
Cameroon is a Central African nation on the Gulf of Guinea, bordered by Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. While the south is covered by rainforests the northern part of Cameroon is situated on a plateau between 900 and 1300 meters above sea level. Mount Cameroon (4,069 m), situated to the west, near the border with Nigeria, is the highest elevation in the western and the central areas of Africa. The main rivers are the Benue, Nyong, and Sanaga.
Cameroon’s population is made up of over 250 ethnic groups who speak about 270 different languages. The biggest of the indigenous languages are beti, Ewondo and fulfulde. Official languages are French and English. Most residents live in the west, south and north, while the eastern part of the country is nearly uninhabited.
The modern state of Cameroon was created in 1961 by the unification of two former colonies, one British and one French. Since then it has struggled from one-party rule to a multi-party system in which the freedom of expression is severely limited.
The first president of the independent Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, managed to create unity in the country after several turbulent years. The regime benefited from strong economic growth, which increased further when oil became a major export item in the 1970s. There were investments made in the fields of agriculture, education, health care and transportation. In 1982 Mr Ahidjo was succeeded by his prime minister, Paul Biya. Faced with popular discontent, Mr Biya allowed multi-party presidential elections in 1992, which he won. He went on to win further presidential elections in 1997, 2004 and – after a clause in the constitution limiting the number of presidential terms was removed – 2011. President Paul Biya’s powers are extensive and include both direct controls over the oil revenues of the country and the right to choose the prime minister.
With the expansion of oil, timber, and coffee exports, the economy has continued to improve, although corruption is widespread, and environmental degradation remains a concern. Around two fifths of the population of Cameroon is considered as poor, meaning they are forced to live on less than two dollars per day. The availability of health care, clean water and sanitation is poor and maternal and infant mortality is high.
Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. However the proportion of the population that is illiterate varies significantly according to region, ranging from 44.3% in rural areas to 12.2% in towns. In the northern provinces and Adamawa, the rates are even higher (60% in Adamawa, 68% in the NorthProvince and 76% in the FarNorthProvince).
Named after its most significant landmark and the second highest mountain in Africa, Kenya is situated in the heart of East Africa. Lake Victoria borders in the west and the Indian Ocean borders to the east of Kenya, which offer a diverse nature with a savannah in the east to a hilly and tempered forested area in the west. Nairobi is both the largest city and the capital of Kenya, which in total populates around 43 million people. As for many countries in Africa, Kenya was subject to colonization. Regarded as a British colony from 1895, Kenya reached its independence 12 of December 1963, which today still serves as the National Day to celebrate its freedom. Following year, the country had its first official elections naming Jomo Kenyatta the first president. Today Kenya is considered a presidential representative democratic republic, with the president acting as a head of the state and the government.
Kenya is facing a rapid growth in the population where 73 % of its people is aged 30 or below. Demographically, Kenya is very diverse including many different ethnic groups. This is reflected by the 69 different languages spoken in Kenya. However, both English and Swahili are considered the official languages. Enriching as it is to have a diverse culture in the country, it also is a source of conflict.
By GDP, Kenya is considered the largest economy in Central and East Africa where the agriculture is the largest economic driver. Kenya exports, coffee, tea and fresh flowers to other countries. Tourism in Kenya is a growing income source from the service sector. Popular tourist attraction is to take part of all the safaris as well as to discover the beautiful coastal beaches. Kenya is also considered as one of the best countries in athletics to produce high achievers in middle and long distance athletes.
Even if Kenya is considered as a large economy, they still suffer in many aspects. One of the biggest problems Kenya is facing is that the population is divided into different social classes, where the people are either wealthy or very poor. Reports show that half of the Kenyans live below the poverty line of 1 $ per day. Other problems including infant mortality and other health issues are caused by weak policies, corruption and poor leadership in the public sector.
Kenya borders to Somalia in the north-east, where war is a reality and causes many problems. Not surprisingly, this causes many refugees to escape to Kenya where many and large refugee camps are held causing health issues.
Mostly known for its rising mountains of Himalaya, Nepal is located in the south part of Asia. Even though Nepal is a small country regarding to geographical area, the Nepalis can brag that they have the majestatic Mount Everest. As Mount Everest is the highest mountain, it attracts adventurous tourist. Moreover, Nepal has a growing potential tourism industry thanks to its beautiful landscape and offer of enriching cultures. Today Nepal populates 30.5 millions where Nepali is the major language. Situated in the middle of the land, Kathmandu serves as the capital of Nepal where hinduism and buddhism are the largest religions.
The history of Nepal is coloured by a violent history caused by internal conflicts. In 1959 King Mahendra tried a democratic approach to rule Nepal, but abandoned the idea to create a panchayat system with suspended parliament and taking sole charge. This ruling system in Nepal lasted until 1991 where democratic politics was introduced. However, this was not the end of the instabile politics in the country. 1996 was the start point of the Nepal Civil War caused by the conflict of government forces and Maoist fighting to overthrowing the Nepalese monarchy. In 2006, after a decade of violence resulting in 12 000 deaths and 100 000 people displaced, a peace deal was agreed upon where the Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed. Two years later historical elections were held declaring that Nepal was a federal republic where the centuries old monarchy was abolished.
Main exports in Nepal are carpets, clothing, leader goods, jute goods and grain. Agriculture employs most of the Nepalis. According to UN, more than 40 % of the Nepalis live in poverty. The economy in Nepal is very dependent of aid from foreign countries as well as trading with India.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is located in West Africa, bordered by Benin to the west, Niger to the north, Cameroon to the east and the Atlantic Ocean. The terrain varies from coastal swamps and tropical forest in the south, to savannah and semi-desert in the north. The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country.
1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the UnitidKingdom, becoming a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and joining the United Nations. Organized as a loose federation of self-governing states, the independent nation faced the overwhelming task of unifying a country with 250 ethnic and linguistic groups and the independence was long marred by civil war, internal political instability and military regimes.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was elected president in 2007 in the third elections after the transition to democracy in 1999. These elections were heavily criticised by foreign and domestic observer groups. President Yar´Adua died in May 2010 and was succeded by Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.The most recent elections took place in April 2011 and dr Jonathan was inaugrated as President in May 2011. These elections were widely considered to be broadly fair and free. Decades of military rule has among other things resulted in weak institutions and created a breeding ground for widespread corruption. The government has repeatedly stated that combating widespread corruption is a priority.
Nigeria is one of the most influential countries in Africa and one of the continent’s economic and political powers, largely due to population size (150 million inhabitants) and the country’s oil and gas resources (seventh largest known reserves). Despite Nigeria´s oil wealth more than half of the population is living in poverty and unemployment is at approximately 24 %. Few Nigerians, including those in oil-producing areas, have benefited from the oil wealth. Uneven distribution of economic resources and even environmental degradation are among the main causes of conflicts in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria. Conflicts also exist between the Muslim majority in the north and the Christian majority in the south.
Illiteracy is a major concern in Nigeria, some 40 million adults are illiterate and the overall literacy rate is close to 57%, with huge variations between different states. In addition some 7 million children are out of school. The need for literacy classes is hence huge. The Government of Nigeria considers the revitalization of adult and youth literacy in Nigera as one of their priorities and is since 2012 involved in a 3-year project developed by UNESCO, entitled Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy in Nigeria.
Nigeria is also a cultural superpower, both in film, music and literature. The author Wole Soyinka was, as the first African, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature1986.
FCO/UK – Nigeria
Infoplease – Nigeria : http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107847.html?pageno=1
BBC News – Nigeria profile : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13949550
UD – Nigeria : http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/2574/a/75557