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Sierra Leone

Country of Sierra Leone Flag

Capital: Freetown

Population: 7,813,215

Brief History of Sierra Leone:

Sierra Leon has been inhabited by tribal peoples for thousands of years. The name comes from the Portugeuse for Lions Mountains, Serra de Leao. The first European to explore Sierra Leon was Pedro da Cintra from Portugal. He mapped out the hills surrounding what is today Freetown Harbour.

In the early 1900s, Freetown was home to the British governor of the Gold Coast. In 1961, Sierra Leon became a fully independent country. From 1991 to 2002 Sierra Leon was ravaged by civil war. Thousands were killed during the war and millions more were displaced. Today the country is still trying to recover.

Country of Sierra Leone Map

The Geography of Sierra Leone

Total Size: 71,740 square km

Size Comparison: slightly smaller than South Carolina

Geographical Coordinates: 8 30 N, 11 30 W

World Region or Continent: Africa

General Terrain: coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east

Geographical Low Point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Geographical High Point: Loma Mansa (Bintimani) 1,948 m

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)

Major cities: FREETOWN (capital) 875,000 (2009)

The People of Sierra Leone

Type of Government: constitutional democracy

Languages Spoken: English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)

Independence: 27 April 1961 (from UK)

National Holiday: Independence Day, 27 April (1961)

Nationality: Sierra Leonean(s)

Religions: Muslim 60%, indigenous beliefs 30%, Christian 10%

National Symbol: lion

National Anthem or Song: High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free

Economy of Sierra Leone

Major Industries: diamond mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, cigarettes, footwear); petroleum refining, small commercial ship repair

Agricultural Products: rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish

Natural Resources: diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite

Major Exports: diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish

Major Imports: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals

Currency: leone (SLL)

National GDP: $6,795,000,000

** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.

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