Fast Facts:

1. It’s located in West Africa and is the 15th smallest country on the continent.

2. Its capital and largest city is Freetown, which was founded in 1787 as a home for repatriated former slaves from England, Nova Scotia, and Jamaica.

3. Major languages: English, Krio, Mende, Temne, Limba, Bengali

4. Major ethnic groups: Temne (36%), Mende (33%), Limba (7%), Kono (5%), Fula (4%), Loko (3%), Koranko (3%)

5. Major religions: Islam (78%), Christianity (21%), Traditional and other religions (1%)

6. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961.

7. The name Sierra Leone means Lion Mountains in Portuguese.

8. It is rich in minerals, especially diamonds, and is known for “blood diamonds” which were mined and sold for weapons during the country’s civil war from 1991 to 2002.

9. Tourism is steadily growing and the main attractions are the beaches, nature reserves, rain forests, mountains, islands, historical sites, and culture.

10. One of the most historic and well-known symbols of Freetown is the Cotton Tree, a massive kapok tree where the first freed slaves gathered, prayed, and sang to celebrate landing on the soil of liberty and freedom. Today, citizens still pray and make offerings to the ancestors under the tree.

11. The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located in the rain forest of the Western Area National Park and is home to 50+ orphaned or illegally captured chimpanzees.

12. It has several islands, including Tiwai Island, home to a wildlife sanctuary and the Gola Forest National Park; Bonthe Island, which is popular for sports fishing; Bunce Island, a former slave trading station; the Turtle Islands, a group of 8 islands known for its beaches and bamboo-built villages; and the Banana Islands, a group of 3 islands known for its tropical forests, beaches and colonial and slave trading monuments.

13.Things to see and do in Freetown include the Cotton Tree, De Ruyter Stone, Government Wharf and King’s Yard, King Jimmy’s Market, Victoria Park Market, Marcon’s Church, National Museum, Lumley Beach, and the Freetown Harbor.

Map of Sierra Leone
Map of Sierra Leone
Video credit: Brand Sierra Leone
Video credit: Displore