Sierra Leone is a state of West Africa. It borders to the SE with Liberia, to the North with Guinea and faces the Atlantic Ocean to the SW. The name of Sierra Leone was given by the Portuguese Pedro de Cintra to the coastal mountains of the country, but the region was probably visited previously by Norman and Genoese navigators. Passed under English influence (17th century), it became the basis for the gold and slave trade with the inland states. Sierra Leone was chosen by the English philanthropist Granville Sharpe as the settlement of freed slaves, who progressively formed the ruling Creole (krio) elite. In 1787 Freetown was founded which with its hinterland became a colony of the Crown (1808), while the rest of the od. Sierra Leone was organized into a protectorate in 1896. The introduction of universal suffrage in 1951 was the culmination of a long process of emancipation of Africans from the Kris. The 1951 elections were won by Milton Augustus Striery Margai ‘s Sierra Leone’s people party (SLPP), who pursued a moderate line towards the Creole elite, leading the country to independence within the British Commonwealth (1961). On the death of Margai he was succeeded by his brother Albert Michael Margai, renewing a system of power based on traditional leaders and on the southern regions of the Mende ethnic group. The opposition of Siaka Stevens’ All people’s congress (APC) won the 1967 elections, but the military close to the SLPP prevented him from accessing power until 1968, when Stevens became prime minister. Thwarted another military coup, Stevens passed the new Republican Constitution, assumed the position of head of state (1971) and then made the PCA the single party (1978). Corruption and economic crisis led to the rapid deterioration of the situation with an increase in political violence (1983-84). Stevens left power to General Joseph S. Momoh (1985), who unsuccessfully attempted the path of reform. From 1989 the Sierra Leone was progressively involved in the civil war in neighboring Liberia, sending its own contingent as part of the ECOWAS international peacekeeping mission. From 1991 the armed opposition of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) progressively strengthened with the support of the Liberian President Charles Taylor. In 1992 Momoh was deposed by the military led by Captain Valentine E. Strasser, who however failed to put an end to the armed struggle of the RUF. A new coup in January 1996 was organized by General Julius Maada Bio who, after the March 1996 elections, handed over power to the winning candidate, Ahman Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP. Attempts at mediation with the RUF were wrecked again in 1997 with a coup d’état, followed by the return to power of Kabbah (1998). Military intervention under the aegis of the United Nations (1999) and then by British troops (2000) led to the definitive demobilization of the anti-government armed groups. In the 2002 elections Kabbah was re-elected president and in 2005 the international peace mission ended. The PCA’s victory in the 2007 elections brought Ernest Bai Koroma to the presidency.
Sierra Leone has a population density of 106 residents per km2. The eastern parts and the area around Freetown are densely populated. The death toll is among the highest in the world, and above all, infant mortality is high (56 per 1,000 live births). In 2019, 41 percent of the population lived in cities, of which the capital Freetown (1 million residents, 2015) is the largest.
According to Countryaah, the population of Sierra Leone is made up of more than 20 ethnic groups. The two largest are the Western Atlantic- speaking time (1.3 million) in the central parts of the country and the male -speaking people (1.6 million) in the south. Both groups are predominantly farmers with rice as a base crop. Conversion to Islam (for both groups about 35 percent) and to a lesser extent to Christianity (15 percent for religion and 5 percent for time) have given rise to conflicts within the groups.
Among the minority groups in Sierra Leone are the West Atlantic-speaking limba (353,000) in the north and sherbro (201,000) in the south as well as the male -speaking Kuranko (332,000) in the northeast. These, too, are farmers and have predominantly maintained their indigenous African religion (about 30 percent are Muslims). The Muslim, livestock- feeding fulani (61,000) are mainly found in the north.
The country’s educated elite was long dominated by the minority group krio (‘creoles’), who claim to be descended from released British slaves from Jamaica and/or from Yoruba in Nigeria. Krio (696,000) are Christians and exemplify British culture; their language is the archetype of a Creole language. 36,000 Lebanese also live in the country.
In Sierra Leone, some 20 native languages are spoken, all of which belong to the Niger-Congo languages. The largest are mend (30% of the population), time (30%) and limba (8%). Krio, an English-based Creole language, is spoken as a native language of about 10% and is widely used as an inter-language language. The official language is English. Compare Population above.
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Approximately 30% of the population (1999) are followers of indigenous African religions, which are particularly strong in the eastern parts of Sierra Leone. Islam has had significant missionary successes in recent years. The Muslims (1999) make up about 60% and are found mainly in the northwest. Christianity, especially in the South and among the Creoles, has had successes. The majority of Christians are Protestants and (1999) make up about 10%.