World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

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Sierra Leone Travelling Guide
Sierra Leone Travelling Guide

General background: Since 1991, civil war between the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (well over one-third of the population) many of whom are now refugees in neighboring countries. After several setbacks, the end to the eleven-year conflict in Sierra Leone may finally be near at hand. With the support of the UN peacekeeping force and contributions from the World Bank and international community, demobilization and disarmament of the RUF and Civil Defense Forces (CDF) combatants has been completed. Reestablishment of government authority throughout the country is slowly proceeding and national elections took place in May 2002.

Area comparative: 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

Population: 5,614,743 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: 20 native African tribes 90% (Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other 30%), Creole (Krio) 10% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century), refugees from Liberia's recent civil war, small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians.

Religions: Muslim 60%, Indigenous beliefs 30%, Christian 10%

Language: English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%).

Government type: Constitutional democracy

Capital: Freetown

Legal system: Based on English law and customary laws indigenous to local tribes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: Sierra Leone is an extremely poor African nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. It does have substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources. However, the economic and social infrastructure is not well developed, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development, following a 10-year civil war. About two-thirds of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. There are plans to reopen bauxite and rutile mines shut down during the conflict. The major source of hard currency consists of the mining of diamonds. The fate of the economy depends upon the maintenance of domestic peace and the continued receipt of substantial aid from abroad.

Communication/Telephone system: Marginal telephone and telegraph service.

Places of interest:

Travel tips: Sierra Leone remains highly unstable, and the US, UK and Australian governments are still advising their citizens not to travel there.