Sierra Leone



                                                                                   Republic of Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone ( /siːˈɛrə liːˈoʊn/) (Krio: Sa Lone), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi)[4] and has a population estimated at 6.5 million. It is a former British Colony and now a constitutional republic comprising three provinces and the Western Area; which are further divided into fourteen districts.

The country has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests.[5] Freetown is the capital, largest city and economic center. The other major cities are Bo, Kenema, Koidu Town and Makeni.[4]

English is the official language,[6] spoken at schools, government administration and by the media. Mende is the principal spoken language in the south, and Temne is the principal spoken language in the north. Krio language (a Creole derived from English and several African languages and native to the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the principal spoken language of about 10% of the population but is understood by 95%.[1][2] Despite its common use throughout the country, the Krio language has no official status.

Sierra Leone is officially home to fourteen ethnic groups, each with its own language and costume. However, the two largest and most dominant are the Mende and Temne, each comprising 30% of the population. The Mende are predominantly found in the South-Eastern region of Sierra Leone and the Temne likewise predominate in Northern Sierra Leone. The Mende have had a long history of political dominance of Sierra Leone. The country is a predominantly Muslim nation, though with a large Christian minority at 35%. Unlike most African nations, Sierra Leone has no serious ethnic and religious divisions. People often marry across tribal and religious boundaries.

Sierra Leone is very rich in mineral resources, possessing most of the known mineral types of the world, many of which are found in significant quantities. The country has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base; it is among the top 10 diamond producing nations in the world, and mineral exports remain the main foreign currency earner. Sierra Leone is also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, and a major producer of gold. The country has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile. Despite this natural wealth, the vast majority of its people live in poverty.

Early inhabitants of Sierra Leone included the Sherbro, Temne and Limba, and Tyra[disambiguation needed] peoples, and later the Mende,[7] who knew the country as "Romarong", and the Kono who settled in the east of the country.[8] In 1462, it was visited by the Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra, who dubbed it Serra de Leão, meaning "Lion Mountains".[9][10]

Sierra Leone later became an important centre of the transatlantic trade in slaves until 1792 when Freetown was founded by the Sierra Leone Company as a home for formerly enslaved African Americans.[11]

In 1808, Freetown became a British Crown Colony, and in 1896, the interior of the country became a British Protectorate;[8] in 1961, the two combined and gained independence.  

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