Official name: the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Location: Sierra Leone lies in west coast of Africa, with Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.
Capital: Freetown, with a population of 500,000 (estimated).
Head of State: Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Area: 72,326 square kilometers.
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April).
Population: 5,230,000 (July 2000 est.).
Ethnic groups: 20 native African tribes 90 percent (Temne 30 percent, Mende 30 percent, other 30 percent), Creole 10 percent ( descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-eighteenth century), refugees from Liberia's recent civil war, small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians.
Religion: Muslim 60 percent, indigenous beliefs 30 percent, Christian 10 percent.
Languages: English is the official language. Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north) and Krio (Creole) are also widely spoken.
Economy overview: Sierra Leone has 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. 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. Bauxite and rutile mines have been shut down by civil strife. The major source of hard currency is found in the mining of diamonds, the large majority of which are smuggled out of the country.
Natural resources: diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite.
GDP: 134 U.S. dollars per capita (2000 estimated).
External debt: 1.273 billion dollars (2000).
Currency: one leone (Le) = 100 cents.
Exchange rates: 2,090 leones per U.S. dollar (November 2001).
Fiscal year: July 1 -- June 30.
Armed forces: The army of Sierra Leone, trained by about 360 British troops, counts nearly 9,000 men. About 50,000 ex- combatants have disarmed since President Kabbah launched a peace and disarmament program last year.
The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNARMSIL), created in October 1999, comprises 17,000 troops, making it the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world.