Country - Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Country Information

Sierra Leone is a country lying in the extreme western part of the African continent. Guinea bounds the northern and north eastern borders of Sierra Leone. Liberia shares the eastern and the south eastern borders. The entire western border of Sierra Leone is the coastline of North Atlantic Ocean.

Freetown is the capital and the largest city situated on the coastline. Portuguese were the first Europeans to have discovered the country and named it Sierra Leone which meant “Lion Mountains” on account of the hilly region in the east. Freetown was ceded to the British settlers in 1787, the coastal area was turned into a British colony in 1808 and the entire country Sierra Leone became the British Protectorate in 1896. The anti-slavery system introduced by the British had ironically the similar features of the earlier oppressive administration.

Decades of mutiny and rebellion culminated in independence from Britain in 1961. The civilian government was toppled by the military coup in 1967 which in turn was deposed by the civil government the next year. Sierra Leone announced itself a republic in 1971. Thereafter, the country has witnessed a series of change of hands between civil government and military coups, sometimes military leaders getting overthrown by new military coups. The decade long civil war led to killings of 50,000 civilians and violent torture of people including countless women and children. The country was declared as most uninhabitable for humans by the United Nations in view of impoverishment and miserable quality of life.

The hardships of the people were compounded by the outbreak of Ebola virus in 2014 when hundreds lost their lives. A three-day lockdown on the country was imposed in order to prevent further spread of the disease.

The statistics of economic parameters of Sierra Leone reveal the pathetic living conditions prevailing in the country. The per capita GDP (nominal) was estimated in 2018 at US$ 505 for a total population of about 7.1 million. The Human Development Index was pitiably low at 0.420 as calculated in 2015.

Sierra Leone is a Muslim dominated country with Muslim people forming 78% of the population and Christians 21%. English is the official language and the regional language Krio is spoken nationwide.

The main items exported by Sierra Leone were diamonds, rutile (mineral of titanium dioxide), cocoa, coffee and fish in 2012. The major components of imports were machinery, fuel, lubricants, chemicals and food in the same year. The gross value of exports was US $1.104 billion and that of imports was US $ 1.509 billion.

Sierra Leone has a number of beaches and museums to offer for tourists. There is a group of thee islands Dublin, Ricketts and Mes-Meheux is called “Banana Islands” lying off the coast of Yawri Bay, south west of Freetown peninsula. The island-trio is visited for enjoying the seaside relaxation and watching the scenic locations. Dublin and Ricketts are joined by a stone causeway while the island Mes-Meheux is devoid of dwelling people.

The Outamba-Kilimi National Park located at the northwest of Sierra Leone is home to hippopotamuses that occasionally wallow in nearby lakes, chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, sooty mangabeys (another species of monkeys), elephants,  pigmy hippos, common warthogs (wild boars) and bongo antelopes.

Tiwai Island wildlife sanctuary is the living place for eleven primate species, about 700 plant species and a huge variety of arthropods including butterflies.

The conjunction of two rivers, Moa and Mina, is the starting place of the combined stream near the Guinean border. The place is good for canoeing apart from watching scenic beauty of the surroundings.

Sierra Leone is abundant in chimpanzee population. The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary near the capital city Freetown is the dwelling site for about eighty chimpanzees.

The capital city Freetown has quite a good number of visiting places like the Government Wharf and King’s Yard, the De Ruyter Stone, the 500-year old cotton tree. Sierra Leone has more than 100 archaeological sites, on the verge of total dilapidation which earned the country the epithet the “Athens of West Africa”.