Sierra Leone - West Africa

Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea, Liberia and the Atlantic Ocean. The former British colony is for years at the last place on the list of the United Nations Development Programme. After a decade of bloody civil war, the country is now busy with its recovery and the reprocessing of its recent history.


Motto: Unity, Freedom, Justice
Official language: English
Capital City: Freetown
Currency: Leone (SSL)
Area: 71,740 km²
Population (2012) 6 Mio
Density : 82 inhabitants/km²




The population

The population consists of many different ethnic groups. 70 per cent of the population are Muslims, 20 per cent are Christians and some of them are of a traditional indigenous religion. Apart from English various languages are spoken: Temne, Krio or Mende.


Social situation

Sierra Leone belongs to one of the poorest countries in the world. Approximately 70 per cent of inhabitants live in extreme poverty. The average life expectancy is around 42,6 years. Nearly every third child dies before their fifth birthday. Many children suffer from malnutrition and therefore are vulnerable to infectious illnesses such as Malaria. 48 per cent of children between 4 and 15 years old are subject to child labour. They are striving for compulsory education but there are too few schools and teachers. Approximately 64 per cent of the inhabitants are illiterate.


Politics

After almost a hundred years of being a part of the British Colonies, Sierra Leone has been independent since 1961. In 1991 civil war broke out due to continued political, economical and social unrest. Over ten years this unrest developed into a brutal war, the most traumatic that Afrika has ever known. Since 2002 Sierra Leone has been a Constitutional Republic with a directly elected president, similar to France and the USA. A special court of jusitice was created in Freetown at the end of the war where trials were held. The political situation today is practically stable. Following the civil war the country has not yet recovered - it belongs to the poorest and most underdeveloped countries of the world.


Climate

The country has a tropical climate with rain up to 5000 mm per year (UK Ø 1100 mm per year). The rainy season begins in the middle of May, the dry season begins in the middle of October.


Agriculture

Most of the agriculture is used for the subsistence of its own people, but only 6 per cent of the total land mass is used. Rice, millet and cassava are the staple products. Coffee, palm kernels and cocoa are grown for export. Most fishing is for their own consumption.


Resources

The country is rich in mineral resources. During the civil war almost all diamond production was smuggled out of the country illegally and now approximately 98 per cent is legal. The export of rutile and gold have been reinstated and a new oilfield was discovered in 2009 on the coast.






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