Facts

Population: 7.396 million(2016)
Area: 71,740 km²
Capital City: Freetown


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 is made up of four administrative regions: the Northern Province, Eastern Province, Southern Province, North West Province and the Western Area, which are subdivided into sixteen districts. Each district has its own directly elected local government, though with limited power, as most of the powers are held by the central government in Freetown. Freetown (population 1,050,301), located in the Western Area, is Sierra Leone’s capital, largest city and its economic centre. Kenema (population 200,354) is Sierra Leone’s second largest city and is located in the Eastern province, 200 miles from Freetown. Bo (population 175,000) is Sierra Leone’s third largest city and is located in the Southern province, about 160 miles from Freetown. The country’s fourth largest city is Koidu Town (population 128,074), located in the diamond rich Kono District in the Eastern province, 270 miles east of Freetown. Makeni (population 126,059), located about 85 miles from Freetown, is the country’s fifth largest city, and the largest city in Sierra Leone’s Northern province.
Sierra Leone became independent from the United Kingdom on 27 April 1961 led by Sir Milton Margai who became the country’s first Prime minister. 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. The Military Junta was ousted from power by a coalition of West African Ecowas troops, lead by Nigeria, and power was returned to the democratically elected government of president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.


Currency

The Sierra Leonean Leone is the currency of Sierra Leone. It is subdivided into 100 cents. The ISO 4217 code is SLL and the leone is abbreviated as Le placed before the amount.

Climate


The climate is tropical, with two seasons determining the agricultural cycle: the rainy season from May to November, and a dry season from December to May, which includes harmattan, when cool, dry winds blow in off the Sahara Desert and the night-time temperature can be as low as 16 °C (60.8 °F). The average temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F) and varies from around 26 to 36 °C (78.8 to 96.8 °F) during the year.

Language

English is the official language, spoken at schools, government administration and in the media. Krio (derived from English and several indigenous African languages, and the language of the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the most widely spoken language in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone. As the Krio language is spoken by 90% of the country’s population, it unites all the different ethnic groups, especially in their trade and interaction with each other.

Economy

By the 1990s economic activity was declining and economic infrastructure had become seriously degraded. Over the next decade much of the formal economy was destroyed in the country’s civil war. Since the end of hostilities in January 2002, massive infusions of outside assistance have helped Sierra Leone begin to recover.
Much of the recovery will depend on the success of the government’s efforts to limit corruption by officials, which many feel was the chief cause for the civil war. A key indicator of success will be the effectiveness of government management of its diamond sector.
There is high unemployment, particularly among the youth and ex-combatants. Authorities have been slow to implement reforms in the civil service, and the pace of the privatisation programme is also slackening and donors have urged its advancement.
The currency is the leone. The central bank is the Bank of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone operates a floating exchange rate system, and foreign currencies can be exchanged at any of the commercial banks, recognised foreign exchange bureaux and most hotels. Credit card use is limited in Sierra Leone, though they may be used at some hotels and restaurants. There are a few internationally linked automated teller machines that accept Visa cards in Freetown operated by ProCredit Bank.
Sierra Leone is a country that is exposed to vulnerable situations (not so as a result of the non-existence of natural wealth), but more to do with poor management of its natural wealth (linked with the concept of resource curse).


Education

Education in Sierra Leone is legally required for all children for six years at primary level (Class P1-P6) and three years in junior secondary education, but a shortage of schools and teachers has made implementation impossible. Two thirds of the adult population of the country are illiterate.
The Sierra Leone Civil War resulted in the destruction of 1,270 primary schools, and in 2001, 67% of all school-age children were out of school. The situation has improved considerably since then with primary school enrolment doubling between 2001 and 2005 and the reconstruction of many schools since the end of the war. Students at primary schools are usually 6 to 12 years old, and in secondary schools 13 to 18. Primary education is free and compulsory in government-sponsored public schools.
The country has three universities: Fourah Bay College, founded in 1827 (the oldest university in West Africa), University of Makeni (established initially in September 2005 as The Fatima Institute, the college was granted university status in August 2009, and assumed the name University of Makeni, or UNIMAK), and Njala University, primarily located in Bo District. Njala University was established as the Njala Agricultural Experimental Station in 1910 and became a university in 2005. Teacher training colleges and religious seminaries are found in many parts of the country. Israel grants scholarships to Sierra Leone students as part of its international development cooperation program.


Government and politics

Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. The current system of national government in Sierra Leone, established under the 1991 Constitution, is modelled on the following structure of government: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
Within the confines of the 1991 Constitution, supreme legislative powers are vested in Parliament, which is the law making body of the nation. Supreme executive authority rests in the president and members of his cabinet and judicial power with the judiciary of which the Chief Justice is head.
The president is the head of state, the head of government and the commander-in-chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the Sierra Leone Police. The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers, which must be approved by the Parliament. The president is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two five-year terms. The president is the highest and most influential position within the government of Sierra Leone.
To be elected president of Sierra Leone, a candidate must gain at least 55% of the vote. If no candidate gets 55%, there is a second-round runoff between the top two candidates.
The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was sworn in on 17 September 2007. The first person of Temne ancestry to be elected president, he won a tense run-off election, defeating incumbent Vice-president, Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
Koroma was re-elected as President for his second and final term, on 23 November 2012, with 58.7%, in the 2012 Sierra Leone Presidential election, defeating his main opponent, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who got 37.4%
Koroma was sworn in as President for his second and final term by Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh at State House in Freetown; the same day he was declared the winner of the election.
Next to the president is the Vice-president, who is the second-highest ranking government official in the executive branch of the Sierra Leone Government. As designated by the Sierra Leone Constitution, the vice-president is to become the new president of Sierra Leone upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president by parliament and to assume the Presidency temporarily while the president is otherwise temporarily unable to fulfil his or her duties. The vice-president is elected jointly with the president as his or her running mate. Sierra Leone’s current vice-president is Victor Bockarie Foh, who was sworn in on 19 March 2015


Health

The CIA estimated average life expectancy in Sierra Leone was 57.39 years.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the population is 1.6%, higher than the world average of 1% but lower than the average of 6.1% across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Medical care is not readily accessible, with doctors and hospitals out of reach for many villagers. While free health care may be provided in some villages, the medical staff is poorly paid and sometimes charge for their services, taking advantage of the fact that the villagers are not aware of their right to free medical care.
A dialysis machine, the first of its kind in the country, was donated by Israel.
According to an Overseas Development Institute report, private health expenditure accounts for 85.7% of total spending on health.

Safety


Water-borne diseases, malaria and other tropical diseases are prevalent. You should consider taking medication to protect against malaria and using insect repellent. Vaccination against yellow fever is now required and against rabies might be recommended. HIV/AIDS is prevalent. Lassa fever can be contracted in Kenema and the east. In 2010, it has also spread to the North, resulting in 48 deaths between the start of the year and November. If you have travelled in these regions you should seek urgent medical advice for any fever not positively identified as malaria.
Medical facilities are very poor. You should carry basic medical supplies. You should take medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. Drink only bottled water and be aware of what you eat and how well cooked it is.


Transport

There are a number of systems of transport in Sierra Leone, which has a road, air and water infrastructure, including a network of highways and several airports. There are 11,300 kilometres (7,000 miles) of highways in Sierra Leone, of which 904 km (562 mi) are paved (about 8% of the roads). Sierra Leone highways are linked to Conakry, Guinea, and Monrovia, Liberia.
Sierra Leone has the largest natural harbour on the African continent, allowing international shipping through the Queen Elizabeth II Quay in the Cline Town area of eastern Freetown or through Government Wharf in central Freetown. There are 800 km (497 mi) of waterways in Sierra Leone, of which 600 km (373 mi) are navigable year-round. Major port cities are Bonthe, Freetown, Sherbro Island and Pepel.
There are ten regional airports in Sierra Leone, and one international airport. The Lungi International Airport located in the coastal town of Lungi in Northern Sierra Leone is the primary airport for domestic and international travel to or from Sierra Leone. Passengers cross the river to Aberdeen Heliports in Freetown by hovercraft, ferry or a helicopter. Helicopters are also available from the airport to other major cities in the country. The airport has paved runways longer than 3,047 metres (9,997 feet). The other airports have unpaved runways, and seven have runways from 914 to 1,523 metres (2,999 to 4,997 feet) long; the remaining two have shorter runways.

Cuisine


Rice is the staple food of Sierra Leone and is consumed at virtually every meal daily. The rice is prepared in numerous ways, and topped with a variety of sauces made from some of Sierra Leone’s favourite toppings, including potato leaves, cassava leaves, crain crain, okra soup, fried fish and groundnut stew.
Along the streets of towns and cities across Sierra Leone one can find foods consisting of fruit, vegetables and snacks such as fresh mangoes, oranges, pineapple, fried plantains, ginger beer, fried potato, fried cassava with pepper sauce; small bags of popcorn or peanuts, bread, roasted corn, or skewers of grilled meat or shrimp.
Poyo is a popular Sierra Leonean drink. It is a sweet, lightly fermented palm wine, and is found in bars in towns and villages across the country. Poyo bars are areas of lively informal debate about politics, football, basketball, entertainment and other issues.

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