In a vibrant, coastal country rich in history and culture, adversity remains a daily battle
Sierra Leone’s varied landscape is as diverse as its people. The four geographical regions are comprised of rain forests, mountain peaks, lowland plains and farmland. The capital city of Freetown is situated on a coastal peninsula, and the neighboring Sierra Leone Harbour is the world’s third largest natural harbor.
Freetown is also known for its history in becoming a permanent home for nearly four hundred liberated slaves from the United States, Nova Scotia and Great Britain in the late 1700s.
Sierra Leone is currently home to 16 different ethnic groups — each with its own language and set of customs. While it is a predominantly Muslim country, the Islamic community lives and interacts peacefully with the influential Christian minority.
The country experienced a devastating war from 1991 to 2002, which displaced over 2 million people to the neighboring countries as refugees, destroying thousands of lives and infrastructure.
While the war with guns is over, the country continues to fight another war with poverty, illiteracy and disease. Illnesses like HIV, AIDS and Ebola have devastated many families and left hundreds of children as orphans.
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Sierra Leone is regarded as one of the most religiously tolerant nations in the world.
Sierra Leone boasts a rich journalistic history, including the first printing press in Africa and the earliest English language radio broadcast in West Africa. However, while the country’s constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the press, the government has firm control over the media and often limits people’s rights in these areas.
Population: 7 million, 42% ages 0 – 14
Major Religions: 60-70% Muslim, 20-30% Indigenous Beliefs, 10-20% Christian
Languages: English (official), Mende, Temne, Krio