Coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east
Tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)
Nationality: Sierra Leonean(s)
Population: 5,743,725 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: 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%)
Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%
Sierra Leone is extremely poor. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. The country possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, but it is still recovering from a civil war that ended in the early 2000s that destroyed most institutions. In recent years economic growth has been driven by mining - particularly of iron ore and oil exploration.
Creole families typically live in two-story wooden houses reminiscent of those found in the West Indies or Louisiana. Despite their dilapidated appearance, they have a distinctive air, with dormers, box windows, shutters, glass panes, and balconies. The elite live in attractive neighborhoods like Hill Station, above Freetown. A large dam in the mountains provides a reliable supply of water and electricity.
US Military Presence/Support