Africa: Sierra Leone

About Sierra Leone

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. A peace agreement, signed in July 1999, collapsed in May 2000 after the RUF took over 500 UN peacekeepers hostage. The RUF stepped up attacks on Guinea in December 2000, despite a cease-fire that it signed with the Freetown government one month earlier. As of late 2000, up to 13,000 UN peacekeepers were protecting the capital and key towns in the south. A UK force of 750 was helping to reinforce security and train the Sierra Leone army.

Vital Statistics
Capitol City: Freetown
Population: 5,426,618 (July 2001 est.)
Percent below poverty: 68% (1989 est.)
Language: English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (in the south), Temne (in the north), Krio (English-based Creole)
Date of independence: 27 April 1961 (from UK)
Form of government: constitutional democracy
Title of Leader: president
Natural Resources:
Environmental Issues: rapid population growth pressuring the environment; overharvesting of timber, expansion of cattle grazing, and slash-and-burn agriculture have resulted in deforestation and soil exhaustion; civil war depleting natural resources; overfishing
Agricultural Products: rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
Imports: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
Exports: diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
Trading Partners: IMPORTS: UK 34%, US 8%, Italy 7%, Nigeria 5% (1999)
EXPORTS: Belgium 38%, US 6%, Italy 4%, UK 4% (1999)


Sierra Leone Headlines

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