Background: Since 1991, the civil war between the government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced more than 2 million people (over a third of the total population), many of whom are now hiding in neighboring countries. A peace agreement signed on 7 July 1999 collapsed in May 2000 when the RUF took 500 UN peacekeepers hostage. The RUF launched attacks in Guinea in December 2000 despite a ceasefire agreement it had signed with the Freetown government a month earlier. At the end of 2000, some 13,000 UN peacekeepers were protecting the capital and major cities in the south. The 500-strong British Armed Forces helped maintain security and assisted in the training of the Sierra Leone army.
Location: West Africa, Atlantic coast, between Guinea and Liberia.
Geographical coordinates: 8° 30′ N. latitude, 11° 30’W
Reference map: Africa.
Area: total: 71,740 km2; land surface area: 71,620 km2; water surface area: 120 km2
Comparative area: slightly smaller than the state of South Carolina.
Land borders: total length: 958 km; with neighboring states: with Guinea 652 km, with Liberia 306 km.
Coastline: 402 km.
Maritime claims: territorial waters: 200 nautical miles; continental shelf: to a depth of 200 m or to the depth of exploitation.
Climate: tropical; hot and humid; summer rainy season from May to December; winter dry season from December to April.
Relief: coastal strip of mangrove swamps; wooded hills in the hinterland; elevated plateau; mountains in the east of the country.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m; highest point: Mount Loma Mansa (Binti-mani) 1,948 m.
Natural resources: diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite.
Land use: arable land: 7%; cultivated land: 1%; pastures: 31%; forests and plantations: 28%; other: 33% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 290 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural Hazards: the hot, sandy “harmattan” wind blowing from the Sahara from November to May; dust and sand storms.
Current environmental issues: rapid population growth, increasing pressure on the environment; uncontrolled logging; overgrazing; deforestation and soil degradation as a result of slash-and-burn agriculture; depletion of natural resources due to civil war; overfishing.
International Environmental Treaties: Member: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Change, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Wetlands. signed but not ratified: no.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 5,426,618 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 44.73% (male 1,190,207; female 1,237,326); 15 to 64 years old: 52.12% (male 1,351,455; female 1,477,155); over 65: 3.15% (male 84,364; female 86,111) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 3.61% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 45.11 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 19.19 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 10.23 people / 1000 people (2001 est.); note: figures as of late 1999 suggest that refugees from Sierra Leone are returning.
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male/female; up to 15 years: 0.96 male/female; from 15 to 64 years old: 0.91 male/female; over 65: 0.98 male/female; for the general population: 0.94 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 146.52 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 45.6 years; men: 42.69 years; women: 48.61 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 6.01 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 2.99% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 68,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 8,200 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: resident of Sierra Leone; adjective: missing.
Ethnic groups: 20 indigenous African tribes 90% (Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other 30%), Creoles 10% (descendants of freed slaves from Jamaica who settled in the Freetown area at the end of the 18th century), refugees from Liberia fleeing from recent civil war, a small number of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis and Indians.
Believers: Muslim 60%, adherents of local beliefs 30%, Christians 10%.
Language(s): English (official, used mostly by literate minorities), Mende (main dialect in the south), Temne (main dialect in the north), Krio (based on an English creole spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves, settled in the Freetown area; writing based on the Latin alphabet; native language for 10% of the population, but understood by 95%).
Literacy: Definition: Persons aged 15 and over who can read and write in English, Mende, Tende or Arabic; for the general population: 31.4%; men: 45.4%; women: 18.2% (1995 est.). State Name:
Conventional long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
conventional short form: Sierra Leone.
State structure: constitutional democracy. See politicsezine.com to know more about Sierra Leone Political System.
Administrative division: 3 provinces and 1 territory*: East, West*, North, South.
Independence: April 27, 1961 (until 1961 – protectorate of Great Britain).
National holiday: Independence Day, 27 April (since 1961).
Constitution: adopted October 1, 1991; subsequently amended several times.
Legal system: based on the English legal system and local tribal customs; does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: President Ahmad Tejan KABBAH (since 29 March 1996, reinstated 10 March 1998); note – the president is both head of state and head of government;
head of government: President Ahmed Tejan KABBAH (since 29 March 1996, reinstated 10 March 1998); note – the president is both head of state and head of government;
government: a cabinet of ministers appointed by the president and approved by the House of Representatives; the cabinet is responsible to the president; elections: the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; elections last held on 26-27 February and 15 March 1996 (next to be held in September 2001); the president may serve no more than two consecutive terms; election results: Ahmed Tejan Kabbah elected president; percent of the vote – Ahmed Tejan Kabbah (SLPP) 59.5%, John KAREFA-SMART (John KAREFA-SMART) (UNPP) 40.5%.
Legislature: unicameral House of Representatives (80 members, 68 of which are elected by popular vote, 12 seats are held by paramount chiefs elected separately; term of office – 5 years); elections: last held 26-27 February 1996 (next to be held in 2001); election results: distribution of votes by party – SLPP 36.1%, UNPP 21.6%, PDP 15.3%, ARS 5.7%, NUP 5.3%, DCP 4.8%, other parties 11.2% ; distribution of seats by parties -SLPP 27, UNPP 17, PDP 12, ARS 5, NUP 4, DCP 3; note – first election since the former House of Representatives was dispersed in a military coup on 29 April 1992
Judiciary: Supreme Court; Court of Appeal; High Court.
Political parties and leaders: All People’s Congress (APC) (Edward Mohammed TURAY, Chairman); Democratic Center Party (DCP) (Adu Aiah KOROMA [Adu Aiah KOROMA]); National Democratic Alliance (NDA) (Amadou M. B. JALLOH [Ata-du M. V. JALLOH]); National Republican Party (NRP) (Sahr Stephen MAMBU); National Unity Party (NUP) (Dr. John KARIMU, chairman); People’s Democratic Party (PDP) (Thaimu BANGURA, chairman); People’s Progressive Party (PPP) (Abass Chernok BUNDU, chairman); Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP) (Foday SANKOH, chairman); Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) (President Ahmed Tejan KABBAH, Chairman); United National People’s Party (UNPP) (John CARIFA-SMART,
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
US Diplomatic Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador John Ernest LEIGH; office: 1701 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; phone:  (202) 939-9261 to 939-9263; fax: [C (202) 483-1793.
US Diplomatic Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Joseph MELROSE, Jr.; embassy: Walpole Street / Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown; mailing address: Walpole Stveet/Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown; phone:  (22) from 226481 to 226485; fax:  (22) 225471.
Description of the flag: three equal horizontal stripes of light green (top), white and blue.