Country Overview

Country Overview


The Resierra leone historypublic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa.  The history of the country’s name dates back to 1462 when a Portuguese ship captain, Pedro da Sintra, sailed southwards down the coast of West Africa and saw the long range of mountains of what is now the Freetown peninsula, which he called Sierra Lyoa, meaning “Lion Mountains”. In the sixteenth century an English sailor changed the name to Sierra Liona; which later became Sierra Leone. Several centuries later, the British came and set up a “crown colony” in Freetown and established indirect rule through traditional rulers in the hinterland called the “protectorate” until 1961 when the country gained independence.

Location and Attributes

Sierra Leone is a coastal state situated in West Africa on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean; lying 900 kilometers north of the equator. It borders Guinea-Conakry to the north and east, and Liberia to the south. The Atlantic Ocean forms Sierra Leone’s third frontier: 360 kilometers (212miles) of coast extending from the mouth of the Great Scarcies River. The country covers a total area of approximately 72,000 square kilometres. The topography is extremely varied. From an approximate 70 mile coastal belt of low-lying land, the country rises to a mountain plateau near the eastern frontier rising 4,000 to 6,000 feet with a rich Sierra-Leone-map4timber forest region. The western area encompasses the Sierra Leone peninsular where Freetown is the capital, largest city, and its economic and political centre.Bo is the second largest city. The other major cities in the country with a population above 100,000 are Kenema, Makeni and Koidu Town.

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 and is known for her endowment of natural resources including natural harbours along the coast line, fresh fruits, fresh water and other supplies, it became a beacon for European explorers and trades. In 1462, the Portuguese explorer Pedro Da Cintra made his maiden voyage to Sierra Leone and arrived in the thick of the rains. He named her “SIERRA LYOA” meaning “LION MOUNTAIN”. The heavens poured as the story goes, the piercing voice of lightning and the roar from the thunder reverberated off the mountains, a unique feature of the bulge of West Africa overlooking what is today Freetown the capital city and the Atlantic Ocean, producing a ricochet effect that sent shivers down the spine of Da Cintra and his crew. In their ears and to their minds they heard these mountains roar like lions and so the name ‘Lion Mountain’ came about.

Population & Ethnic Groups

Sierra Leone’s population is estimated at 6,294,774 people with Freetown (capital) accounting for approximately 1.2 million. Sierra Leone is divided into four geographical regions: the Northern Province, Eastern Province, Southern Province and the Western Area, which are further divided into fourteen districts. There are also fifteen (15) indigenous ethno-linguistic groupings with the Mendes and Temnes as major tribes found in the South East and North West respectively.

Although English is the official ladance-troupe-2nguage spoken at schools and government administration, the Krio language is the most widely spoken language in the country and unites all the different ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction with each other.

Sierra Leone is also regarded as one of the most religiously tolerant nations in the world. Muslims and Christians collaborate and interact with each other peacefully. Religious violence is very rare in the country.


The country has a tropical climate; the inter-tropical belt of cloud and rain migrates northwards and southwards with the apparent movement of the overhead sun but lagging behind by some four to six weeks. From October to March, during the period of low sun, the weather is generally dry with many fine, hot, sunny days. There are principally two seasons: the rainy season from May to October, and the dry season for the other months of the year. The season of high sun, from April to September, is the rainy season. Annual rainfall is high, averaging about 3,000 mm; (2,000 mm in the North to a high of 4,000 mm in the South). July and August are the wettest months, with torrential rainstorms that sometimes moving around and external work and business more difficult. Temperatures are consistently high around the year on the coast and, during the dry season, increase even higher inland. During the rainy season the coastal region experiences high relative humidity; this rarely drops below 80% during the daytime. The country has nine (9) major and three (3) minor perennial rivers.