Sierra Leone Guide

Sierra Leone Guide

Sierra Leone (Lion Mountains) is a state in West Africa, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Shared borders with Guinea and Liberia.

The capital is Freetown. The official language is English. Currency – leone.

The first Portuguese navigators discovered the peninsula in the 15th century. They named it Sierra Leone, which means Lion Mountains in Spanish. This name subsequently spread throughout the country. In the past, the country’s territory was divided into a colony (coastal areas) and a protectorate (inland areas) of Great Britain. April 27, 1961 Sierra Leone gained independence.

The climate is subequatorial, hot and humid (this is one of the rainiest countries in West Africa), with a dry winter season (November – April) and a humid summer season (May – October). The average monthly temperature ranges from +24*С to +27*С. In the interior regions of the country the climate is cooler (20-23*С) and dry. During the winter season, droughts and sandstorms are not uncommon, when the air temperature rises and sand and dust come from the Sahara.

The river network of Sierra Leone is highly developed. The main rivers are Big Scarsies (Kolentyev), Small Scarsies (Kaba), Roquel, Jong, Seva, Moa and Makona. There are many convenient bays on the coast, in particular, the port of Freetown. A strip of mangroves stretches along the coast.

The main type of vegetation is tall-grass savanna with thickets of shrubs and individual baobab trees. Moist equatorial forests, preserved only on the eastern slopes of mountains and hills and in the south, occupy less than 5% of the country’s area. Forest reserves – Mountains, Mammoth Mayosa.

Interesting facts

The territory of Sierra Leone has been inhabited by people for 2,500 years. The territory of modern Sierra Leone was one of the first in West Africa, mastered by Europeans (since 1462). The Portuguese gave the name to the Sierra Leone peninsula they discovered, which in translation is the Lion Mountains. This name was later extended to the entire territory of the country.

The Atlantic part of Sierra Leone, the most populated and convenient for agriculture, is a lowland, gently descending to the ocean. However, in the northeast of the country, on the territory of the Leon-Liberian mountain range, the relief is more uneven, with an average height of about 600 m. The highest point in the country is Mount Bintimani (1945 m). The northern part of the country is also mountainous, on its territory there are spurs of the Phuta-Jallon massif.

Sierra Leone has significant mineral, agricultural and fishing resources, but remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Industry – diamond mining, beer, cigarettes, shoes.

Country data

Location: West Africa

Time zone: CET – 1 (during summer time: CET – 2)

Total area: 71,740 km²

Land area: 71,620 km²

Water area: 120 km²

Length of the state border: 958 km

Bordering countries:
Guinea: 652 km
Liberia: 306 km

Coastline: 402 km

Capital: Freetown

Provinces: 4
Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western

Telephone code: 00 232 (Source: Allcitycodes)

Highest point: Loma Mansa (Bintimani) 1,948 m

Population

Population: approx. 5.7 million residents (Countryaah, 2021)

Population growth: 2.3% per year

Population density (residents per km²): 79

Life expectancy: 55 (male), 60 (female)

Official language: English

Religions:

  • 60% Muslim
  • 10% Christians
  • 30% other

Climate

The tropical humid weather lasts all year round. The climate is somewhat more pleasant near the coast, as the temperatures increase with distance from it.

Sierra Leone

The rainy season lasts from May to October with sometimes very heavy rains.

December to March is the best time to visit Sierra Leone.

Currency / finance

Currency unit: Leone (SLL)

Classification: 1 leone = 100 cents

ATMs: not available

International credit cards: Very rarely accepted.

Regulations: The local currency can be imported and exported up to an amount of 50,000 leons, but this is not recommended. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currencies that can be imported. The export is limited to the declared import. There is a strict declaration requirement.

When leaving the country, ALL import and exchange documents must be presented.

Customs regulations

The following may be carried duty-free:

  • 200 cigarettes or 250 g tobacco
  • 1 liter of alcoholic beverages
  • small amounts of perfume

(Information applies to people aged 18 and over)

Tourists and people in transit can bring items of personal use with them duty-free.

You should have all valuable items declared in writing upon import in order to avoid problems when leaving the country.

Drugs and all kinds of intoxicants are not allowed. For urgently needed medication, you should have an English-language confirmation from your doctor with you.

Travel advice

All trips outside the capital are only possible with the prior approval of the local authorities.

The state of emergency still applies across the country.

Obstacles caused by roadside checks must always be expected.

Behavioral advice

As the range of goods is very limited and there are always delivery bottlenecks, we recommend that you bring all the goods you need for your stay.

Economy

Most of the population works in agriculture and grows ginger, coffee, cocoa, manioc and palm kernels.

Most foreign currencies are generated in mining and with the export of titanium ore.

Industries: mining, oil production, light industry

Natural resources: bauxite, lignite, chromium, diamonds, iron ore, gold, graphite, columbite, manganese, molybdenum, platinum, titanium ore

Land use:

  • Usable land: 7%
  • Grain cultivation: 1%
  • Pasture area: 31%
  • Forests: 28%
  • other: 33%

Plants

Many northern areas consist of savannah land and are occasionally affected by floods.

To the south, the number of grasses, plants and forests increases.

Sierra Leone is a very riverside country.

Animals

The few wild animals still living in the wild include several species of monkeys and many small animals that live in the forests.

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