SIERRA LEONE

Date of establishment: April 27, 1961

Brief history:

  • 15th century: Before the arrival of Europeans, what is now Sierra Leone was inhabited by the local Mende, Temne, and Limba tribes.
  • 1462: Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra first sighted the coast of Sierra Leone on his voyage.
  • 16th and 17th centuries: Sierra Leone became the center of the transatlantic slave trade when British and French trading posts and prison camps were built there.
  • 1787: The British organization for the liberation of slaves (The Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor) established a settlement for freed slaves, which was called Freetown.
  • 1808: The country became a British colony.
  • 1961: It gained independence from the United Kingdom and became a republic.
  • 1971: The government under President Siak Stevens declared Sierra Leone a one-party state under the leadership of the People’s Party.
  • 1991-2002: A decade-long civil war characterized by violence, massacres, and cruelty began. The conflict became one of the bloodiest in modern African history.
  • 2002: The civil war ended thanks to the intervention of the international community, especially the United Nations.
  • Since 2002: Sierra Leone has begun a process of reconstruction, democratization, and national reconciliation.

 

International abbreviation: SL

 

Currency: Sierra Leonean leone SLE

The leone is divided into smaller units called cents. The currency symbol for Leone is “Le.” It is the official currency in Sierra Leone.

 

Internet domain: .sl

 

Dialing code: +232

 

Time zone: GMT +1

 

Geography:

Sierra Leone has approximately 402 km (250 miles) of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The coast is known for its beautiful beaches and many ports.

The country is crisscrossed by many rivers. The most important are the Rokel and the Sewa. A large part of the country is covered by tropical rainforests. These are home to rich biodiversity, including various species of plants and animals. In the eastern part of the country, there is savannah and dry areas. Sierra Leone also has several smaller islands in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Banana and Turtle islands.

 

Highest peak: Bintumani 1 945 m (6 381 feet) above sea level.

This mountain is located in the interior of the country in the Loma Mountains, which is part of the West African mountain system. It is also known as Loma Mansa.

 

Climate:

Sierra Leone has two main rainy seasons during the year. The main rainy season runs from May to October, while the second, less pronounced, rainy season runs from December to April.

Temperatures here are high all year round. They average between 26°C (79°F) and 32°C (90°F), with lows around 20°C (68°F) and 24°C (75°F) at night. The warmest months are during the dry season.

The country is known for high humidity. The humid air can be particularly intense during rainy seasons. During the rainy season, Sierra Leone can face tropical storms and hurricanes, especially on the coast. Precipitation is quite significant. Annual rainfall varies from 2 000 mm (80 inches) to 4 000 mm (160 inches), which depends on the specific location.

The coast, especially around the capital Freetown, has an oceanic climate with milder temperatures and higher rainfall.

 

Fauna and flora:

Sierra Leone used to be home to elephant populations, but due to over-hunting and habitat loss, the country’s elephant population has been much reduced.

Leopards are among the big cats that also inhabit some parts of the country. Several species of monkeys live here, including chimpanzees, mangabeys and colobus.

There are crocodiles in the rivers and coastal areas, various species of turtles live in the sea and on the beaches, e.g. the giant loggerhead. There are many species of birds, including parrots.

The forests include a variety of tree species, including mahogany, ebony, and tropical hardwoods. Palm trees have important economic uses. Coastal areas are often overgrown with mangroves, which are important for the protection of coastal ecosystems and fisheries.

 

Agriculture:

The main agricultural crops include rice, cassava, potatoes, bananas, sweet potatoes, sorghum, maize, and oil palm. Rice is the staple food for most of the population.

The country also produces coffee and cocoa, which are important export crops. Fishing is an important industry. Various types of fish and seafood are an important source of food and income for many fishermen. Oil palms are grown in Sierra Leone. Oil from these is an important raw material for the food industry and is also used in traditional African cuisine.

Pastoralism is widespread in inland areas. Livestock, especially cattle and goats, are raised for meat and milk.

 

Extraction of raw materials:

Sierra Leone has long been known for diamond mining. However, the diamond industry has been plagued by conflict and the illegal diamond trade, leading to the designation of “blood diamonds.” Since then, international agreements and regulations have been adopted. The country has significant reserves of iron ore, titanium, bauxite, and gold. The extraction of these raw materials plays an important role in the country’s economy and contributes to income.

There are extensive forests that provide wood for local consumption and export.

 

Industry:

The mining of diamonds and precious stones represents a significant source of income for the country. Food and beverage production is another important sector of industry. With the development of infrastructure and construction in the country, the production of cement and building material is becoming more and more important.

 

Services and other areas of the economy: services

 

Natural and historical attractions: Outamba-Kilimi National Park and Reserve, Tacugama, Loma Mountains, the Banana Islands, and beaches

Sierra Leone has beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast that are considered some of the most beautiful in the world. Beaches such as Bureh and Lumley around the capital Freetown are popular places for beach relaxation.

There is beautiful natural scenery, including tropical rainforests, mountains, and rivers. Tiwai Island and Outamba-Kilimi national parks are popular spots for animal watching and ecotourism.

Visitors can visit traditional villages and experience local culture, music, and dance. The country also has a history associated with slavery and the colonial period, and there are historical monuments and museums.

 

 

Form of government: presidential republic

The president has executive power as head of state and government. He/she is elected for a five-year mandate in democratic elections. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral parliament, known as the National Assembly, which consists of 149 members,  135 elected for five-year terms and 14 appointed.

The judicial system is independent and comprises various courts, including the Supreme Court, the court of appeal and various regional and lower courts. The country has multiple political parties that participate in elections. The political system is pluralistic and has different parties and movements, which is important for democracy.

 

Capital city: Freetown

It is located on the west coast of the country by the Atlantic Ocean. The city was founded in 1792 by British settlers who created a settlement for freed slaves. The name reflects its historical significance as a place of freedom.

 

Area: 71 740 km2 (27 699 square miles)

 

Population: 8 700 000 (2022)

Sierra Leone has a diverse population with several ethnic groups, the largest being the Mende, Temne, Limba, and Krio. A third of Freetown’s population are Krio, who are descendants of freed slaves and have their own language and culture. The main language in Freetown and throughout Sierra Leone is English, but several other languages are also spoken in the city, including Krio.

Islam is one of the main religions and is practiced by about a third of the population. The majority of Muslims in the country are Sunni. Christianity is another major religion and is practiced by approximately two thirds of the population.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

 

National parks: 4

 

  1. Loma Mountains National Park
  2. Outamba-Kilimi National Park
  3. Western Area Peninsula National Park
  4. Gola Rainforest National Park