Fairtrade Mining Ltd

Location
West Africa.

Time
GMT.

Area
71,740 sq km (27,699 sq miles).

Population
6.1 million (official estimate 2007).

Population Density
85 per sq km.

Capital
Freetown. Population: 921,000 (UN estimate 2003).

Geography
Sierra Leone is bordered to the northwest, north and northeast by Guinea Republic, and to the southeast by Liberia. To the south and southwest lies the Atlantic Ocean. A flat plain up to 110km (70 miles) wide stretches the length of the coast except for the Freetown peninsula, where the Sierra Lyoa Mountains rise to 1,000m (3,280ft). In some coastal areas, sand bars have formed that stretch out as far as 112km (70 miles). Behind the coastal plain is the central forested area, drained by eight principal rivers, which has been cleared for agriculture. The land rises in altitude eastwards to the Guinea Highlands, a high plateau with peaks rising to over 1,830m (6,000ft) in the Loma Mountains and Tingi Hills area. The Mende tribe is prominent in the southeast and the Temne in the western and northern areas.

Government
Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1961.

Head of State
President Ernest Bai Koroma since 2007.

Recent History
Elections took place in August and run-off elections in September 2007. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) stepped down following the results, after serving two terms in office. The opposition leader Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People's Congress party took over the presidency after winning 54.6% of the vote while his rival Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the SLPP obtained 45.4%.

Language
The official language is English. Krio is also widely spoken. Local dialects are Mende, Limba and Temne.

Religion
Animist (40%), Islam (40%) and Christian (20%).

Electricity
220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Supply subject to fluctuations.

Social Conventions
The majority of people in Sierra Leone still live a traditional, agricultural way of life, with ruling chiefs, and religions which preserve social stability, as well as local music, dance, customs and traditions. Handshaking is the normal form of greeting. It is usual to be entertained in a hotel or restaurant, particularly for business visitors. Small tokens of appreciation are always welcome. Casual wear is suitable everywhere. Men are rarely expected to wear suits and ties.

[Courtesy of World Travel Guide]