Some facts about Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone (), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north-east, Liberia to the south-east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south-west. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. The country has a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and a population of 7,075,641 (based on 2015 national census). It is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature.
Sierra Leone is made up of five administrative regions: the Northern Province, Northwestern Province, Eastern Province, Southern Province and the Western Area, which are subdivided into sixteen districts. Each district has its own directly elected local government. Freetown (population 1,050,301), located in the Western Area, is Sierra Leone's capital, largest city and its economic centre. Bo is Sierra Leone's second largest city and is located in the Southern province, 160 miles from Freetown. Kenema (population 200,354) is Sierra Leone"s third largest city, and is located in the Eastern province, 200 miles from Freetown. Koidu Town is Sierra Leone"s fourth largest city and is located in the diamond rich Kono District in the Eastern province, 285 miles from Freetown. Makeni is Sierra Leone's fifth largest of the country's five major cities, and is located in the Northern province, 85 miles from Freetown.
Sierra Leone became independent from the United Kingdom on 27 April 1961 led by Sir Milton Margai. The current constitution of Sierra Leone was adopted in 1991, though it has been amended several times. Since independence to present, Sierra Leonean politics has been dominated by two major political parties; the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the All People's Congress (APC), though the Sierra Leone military had seized power through military coup six times since Independence in 1961; the last time was when the country was under ten months military junta rule from 1997 to 1998 under Major General Johnny Paul Koroma, whose military Junta government was then ousted from power by a coalition of West African Ecowas troops, lead by Nigeria, and power was returned back to the democratically elected president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was elected president with 54℅ of the votes in the 2007 Sierra Leone presidential election as a candidate of the main opposition party, and he won reelection for his final term as president in 2012 with 58℅ of the votes.
From 1991 to 2002, the Sierra Leone civil war was fought and devastated the country. The proxy war left more than 50,000 people dead, much of the country's infrastructure destroyed, and over two million Sierra Leoneans displaced as refugees in neighbouring countries. In January 2002, then Sierra Leone's president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, fulfilled his campaign promise by ending the civil war, with help of the British Government, ECOWAS and the United Nations. Kabbah won reelection for his final term as president, after the civil war, with 70℅ of the votes in the 2002 Sierra Leone presidential election. More recently, the 2014 Ebola outbreak overburdened the weak healthcare infrastructure, leading to more deaths from medical neglect than Ebola itself. It created a humanitarian crisis situation and heavily impacted economic growth. The country has an extremely low life expectancy relative to other countries, at 57.8 years.
About sixteen ethnic groups inhabit Sierra Leone, each with its own language and customs. The two largest and most influential are the Temne and the Mende people. The Temne are predominantly found in the north of the country, while the Mende are predominant in the southeast. Sierra Leone has a significant minority of the Krio people, who are descendants of freed African American and West Indian slaves.
Although English is the official language spoken at schools and government administration, the Krio language, an English-based creole, is the most widely spoken language across Sierra Leone and is spoken by 97% of the country's population. The Krio language unites all the different ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction with each other.
Sierra Leone is a Muslim majority country, with the overall Muslim population at 78% of the population, though there is an influential Christian minority at about 21%. Sierra Leone is regarded as one of the most religiously tolerant nations in the world. Muslims and Christians collaborate and interact with each other very peacefully. Religious violence is very rare in the country. The major Muslim holidays of Eid al fitr (end of Ramadan), Eid Al Adha, and Mawlid Al Nabi (commemorate the birth of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad) are officially celebrated as national holidays in Sierra Leone. The major Christian holidays of Christmas, Easter, Boxing Day and Good Friday are also officially celebrated as national holidays in Sierra Leone. In politics, the overwhelming majority of Sierra Leoneans vote for a candidate without regard to whether the candidate is a Muslim or a Christian.
Sierra Leone has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. It is also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, a major producer of gold and has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile. Sierra Leone is home to the third-largest natural harbour in the world. Despite exploitation of this natural wealth, 70% of its population live in poverty.
Sierra Leone is a member of many international organisations, including the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Development Bank and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
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