Ahmad Tejan Kabbah

Sierra Leone

(pronounced "ah-MAD TAY-jun KA-ba")

"My duty is to serve the entire population of Sierra Leone, which means that no one religious or tribal group, and no one section of our population can lay claim to preferential treatment from my administration."

The Republic of Sierra Leone is located on the coast of West Africa, bisected by the 8th degree of latitude. It is bordered by Guinea on the northwest and northeast, and by Liberia on the southeast. The country's total area of 71,740 sq km (27,699 sq mi) is characterized by dense rainforests in the south, coastal lowlands in the west, and a steep escarpment rising to a rugged and hilly interior in the east. The largest city is the capital and principal port of Freetown.

The total population was estimated at 5.6 million in 2002. The official language is English, though Krio (a combination of English, Yoruba, and other West African languages) is widely spoken. Of the 16 ethno-linguistic groups found in Sierra Leone, the northern Mende and southern Temne are the largest, with about one million members each. Descendants of repatriated and "recaptured" ex-slaves, known as the "Krio" (Creole) dominate the area around the capital. Most Creole descendants are Christians, and many northerners are Muslims, with a large number of the remaining population practicing traditional religions.

The official currency is the leone. Before rebels damaged mine installations in 1995, Sierra Leone produced 25% of the world's natural supply of rutile (an important component in paints and non-stick cookware), which was Sierra Leone's leading foreign exchange earner. Efforts are underway to restore and expand rutile operations in the country. The ban on the direct and indirect importation of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, excepting rough diamonds exported under the government's Certificate of Origin scheme, is in effect till mid-2003. Sierra Leone is also rich in bauxite, gold, and iron ore, with potential deposits of oil and gas off the coast. Coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, and rice represent the primary agricultural exports. With a GDP at market prices of US $836 million and an annual per capita income of US $156, Sierra Leone is one of the world's poorest nations. For successive years it has been ranked 174th out of 174 countries on the Human Development 'Quality of Life' Index.


The State House
Siaka Stevens Street
Freetown, Sierra Leone

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