Sierra Leone

Background Information

Map of Sierra Leone

Background

The government is slowly reestablishing its authority after the 1991 to 2002 civil war that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than two million people (about one-third of the population). The last UN peacekeepers withdrew in December 2005, leaving full responsibility for security with domestic forces, but a new civilian UN office remains to support the government. Mounting tensions related to planned 2007 elections, deteriorating political and economic conditions in Guinea, and the tenuous security situation in neighboring Liberia may present challenges to continuing progress in Sierra Leone’s stability.

Geography

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia

Area:     

  • total: 71,740 sq km
  • land: 71,620 sq km
  • water: 120 sq km


Comparative Area
: slightly smaller than South Carolina

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)

Terrain: coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east

Natural Resources: diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite

Environment/Current Issues: rapid population growth pressuring the environment; overharvesting of timber, expansion of cattle grazing and slash-and-burn agriculture have resulted in deforestation and soil exhaustion; over fishing

Note: rainfall along the coast can reach 495 cm (195 inches) a year, making it one of the wettest places along coastal, western Africa

Table of Comparative Statistics

United States

Sierra Leone

South Africa

India

Population

301,139,947

6,144,562

43,997,828

1,129,866,154

Median Age:

36.6 years

17.5 years

24.3 years

24.8 years

Number of children per women in lifetime

2.09

6.01

2.16

2.81

Infant mortality rate

6.37 deaths/1,000 live births

158.27 deaths/1,000 live births

59.44 deaths/1,000 live births

34.61 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth

78 years

42.87 years

42.45 years

68.59 years

Literacy  (age 15 and older can read and write)

99%

35.1%

86.4%

61%

Source: Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook 2007.  Washington, D.C.: Potomac, 2007.

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