Sierra Leone, which just a decade ago was mired in a bloody civil war that killed 50,000 people, celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom Wednesday.
The West African nation has progressed since the end of the diamond- and corruption-fueled conflict in 2002, President Ernest Bai Koroma told the BBC. "It has been a difficult thing to move forward, but we are thankful that today we are a peaceful country. We now have a focus and we have to build on it," he said.
From 1991 to 2002, rebel army Revolutionary United Front terrorized citizens in the nation through murder, rape and cutting off limbs in an attempt to overthrow the government and take control of the nation’s rich diamond resources.
While more than 70 percent of citizens are living below the poverty line according to U.S. government statistics, it has been reported that the nation spent $25 million on festivities surrounding the anniversary.