Portal:Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone

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 fixed-key balafon, showing resonators with membrane holes
The balafon (bala, balaphone) is a resonated frame, wooden keyed percussion idiophone of West Africa; part of the idiophone family of tuned percussion instruments that includes the xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, and the vibraphone. Sound is produced by striking the tuned keys with two padded sticks. Believed to have been developed independently of the Southern African and South American instruments now called the marimba, oral histories of the balafon date it to at least the rise of the Mali Empire in the 12th century CE. Balafon is a Manding name, but variations exist across West Africa, including the Balangi in Sierra Leone and the Gyil of the Dagara people from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. In the ancient Central African Kingdom of Kongo, it was called a palaku.

A balafon can be either fixed-key (where the keys are strung over a fixed frame, usually with calabash resonators underneath) or free-key (where the keys are placed independently on any padded surface). The balafon usually has 17-21 keys, tuned to a tetratonic, pentatonic or heptatonic scale, depending on the culture of the musician. (read more . . . )

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The road from Kenema to Kailahun District
Credit: Lindsay Stark
The road from Kenema to Kailahun District. (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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