Portal:Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea in the northeast, Liberia in the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and has a population of 5,900,000. The country has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. Freetown is the capital, seat of government, and largest city. Other major cities in the country with a population over 100,000 are Bo, Kenema, Koidu Town and Makeni. Although English is the official language spoken at schools and government administration, Krio (language derived from English and several West African languages and is native to the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the lingua franca spoken throughout the country. The Krio language unites all the different ethnic groups, especially in their trade and interaction with each other.

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A school in Koindu destroyed by RUF rebel forces, in total 1,270 primary schools were destroyed in the War.

The Sierra Leone Civil War began in 1991, initiated by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under Foday Sankoh. Tens of thousands died and more than 2 million people (well over one-third of the population) were displaced because of the 9-year conflict. Neighbouring countries became host to significant numbers of refugees attempting to escape the civil war. It was officially declared over on 18 January 2002.

In 1985, Joseph Momoh, a military leader, was installed as president of Sierra Leone. One major opposition group consisted of students including Foday Sankoh, Abu Kanu, and Rashid Mansaray. Many students were expelled from the country and this group fled to Ghana and then Libya where they attended Muammar Gaddafi's secret service military training facility. The group recruited unemployed young men and students, but as the group grew, internal squabbles arose, and many left the group, some students to universities in Ghana, others back to Sierra Leone. However, others (including Kanu, Mansaray, and Sankoh) were still interested in revolution. The group then went to Kono District and toured the diamond mines, talking with workers about their situation, and spreading a revolutionary ideology.

Control of Sierra Leone's diamond industry was a primary cause of the war. Although endowed with abundant natural resources, Sierra Leone was ranked as the poorest country in the world by 1998. With the breakdown of all state structures, wide corridors of Sierra Leonean society were opened up to the trafficking of arms and ammunition. Recreational drugs also eroded national and regional security as well as facilitated crime within the country, precipitating illegal trade with both Liberia and Guinea. (Read more ...)

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An aerial view of Freetown
Credit: David Hond
An aerial view of Freetown the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone (read more . . . )

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Class at a secondary school in Pendembu, Sierra Leone

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Provinces: Eastern ProvinceNorthern ProvinceSouthern ProvinceWestern Area

History: Sierra Leone Colony and ProtectorateKingdom of KoyaBritish West AfricaSierra Leone Liberated AfricansSierra Leone Creole SettlersSierra Leone Civil WarUnited Nations Mission in Sierra Leone

Law: Sierra Leone PoliceSpecial Court for Sierra LeoneTruth and Reconciliation CommissionPrisons in Sierra Leone

Politics: List of PresidentsPolitical PartiesParliamentForeign relationsElectionsMilitary of Sierra Leone

Geography: ProtectedSierra Leone RiverWestern Guinean lowland forestsOutamba-Kilimi National ParkTransport

Economy: Bank of Sierra LeoneTourism in Sierra Leone

Society: SportDemographicsEducationCuisineMediaMusic

Symbols: FlagCoat of armsNational anthem (High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free)

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