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Sierra Leone. Physical Geography . Location : Sierra Leone is located in Western Africa between Guinea and Liberia. Terrain : mangrove swamps, wooded areas, plateaus, and mountains in east.

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physical geography
Physical Geography

Location: Sierra Leone is located in Western Africa between Guinea and Liberia.

Terrain: mangrove swamps, wooded areas, plateaus, and mountains in east.

Climate: Tropical- very hot and humid with a rainy season from May to December. Rainfall amounts are so high that the region is considered one of the wettest in Western Africa.


Sierra Leone Gola West

Image Credit: Andrew Hester

  • 5,485,998 (July 2012 est.)
  • Capital city: Freetown (population of roughly 875,000 to 1 million residents)
  • Image of Freetown (taken from:
  • Nationality: Sierra Leonean
  • Religions: Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%
  • Ethnic Groups: Temne 35%, Mende 31%, Limba 8%, Kono 5%, Kriole 2%, Mandingo 2%, Loko 2%, other 15%.
  • Languages: English, more culturally specific dialects in particular areas. For example Temne and Mende languages are spoken in Northern and Southern regions respectfully.
  • There is also Krio which is an English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who settled in the Freetown area.
economic situation
Economic Situation
  • Natural resources: diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite
  • Industry: Mining (diamonds); small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles); petroleum refining
  • Agriculture: Rice, coffee, cacao, palm kernels; poultry; fish
  • Exports: Diamonds, rutile, cacao, coffee
political structure
Political Structure
  • Historically, Sierra Leone has been a place of civil unrest and political hardships with slavery, colonization, uprisings, independence and a civil war that occurred from 1991-2002.
civil war
Civil War
  • Although independence from the UK was established on April 27th, 1961 political strife was still very prevalent.
  • Conflict began in March of 1991 when fighters of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) launched a war from the east of the country near the border with Liberia to overthrow the government.
  • In June 1998, the Security Council established the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) for an initial period of six months. The mission monitored and advised efforts to disarm combatants and restructure the nation's security forces. Unarmed UNOMSIL teams, under the protection of Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), documented reports of on-going atrocities and human rights abuses committed against civilians.

By December 1998 the rebel alliance began an offensive to retake Freetown and in January overran most of the city. All UNOMSIL personnel were evacuated.

  • On 22 October 1999, the Security Council authorized the establishment of UNAMSIL, a new and much larger mission with a maximum of 6,000 military personnel, including 260 military observers, to assist with addressing the conflict after a peace agreement was signed earlier in 1999.
  • The new mission was increased several times. On 30 March 2001, an increase was authorized to 17,500 military personnel, including the 260 military observers.
  • By 2002, UNAMSIL had disarmed and demobilized more than 75,000 ex-fighters, including child soldiers. The Government declared the war officially over. With the political situation stable, the Mission continued to help by working to build peace within the country.This mission is a prime example of moving from a role of peacekeeping to one of peace-building.
war crimes and the path to healing
War Crimes and the path to healing
  • A UNAMSIL backed court was established to hold the rebels accountable for their harsh actions during the war. The last case ended in 2012 with former Liberian leader Charles Taylor found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes. The Mission also assisted the Government in setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, tasked with healing the wounds of war by bringing together perpetrators and victims of atrocities.
blood diamonds
Blood Diamonds
  • Sierra Leone is perhaps best known for its blood diamonds that were mined and sold for high prices during the civil war- essentially funding the conflict.

A diamond merchant shows his wares June 15, 2001 in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

blood diamonds continued
Blood Diamonds continued
  • By 2000, the global diamond industry began working towards a policy to end the purchase of conflict diamonds. Working with the United Nations, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) the Kimberley Process Certification System was created and formally adopted in 2003. It guards against conflict diamonds entering the legitimate diamond supply chain. The diamond industry also adopted a voluntary System of Warranties to assure consumers that their diamonds are from sources free of conflict.
  • Today 74 governments have enshrined into their national law the Kimberley Process Certification System, and now more than 99% of the world's diamonds are from conflict free sources.
child soldiers
Child Soldiers

“I know the nature of what it is to be forgotten, what it is to lose your humanity, and more importantly, what it is to recover from it and to have another life.” – Ishmael Beah

other factors to consider
Other factors to consider…
  • Literacy rates: total population: 35.1%, male: 46.9%, female: 24.4%
  • High risk of infectious diseases.
  • Poverty and unemployment still pose a challenge.
  • In 2012 the first election held without UN supervision occurred.
  • On the Human Development Index (HDI) Sierra Leone ranks 177th with a life expectancy of 48.1 years, and only 3.3 years, on average, of education.
  • Adults living with HIV/AIDS 49,000 (2009 est.)
  • Images: