SIERRA LEONE - FREETOWN
REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE/SLOANE
• Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown, was founded as a home for repatriated and rescued former slaves in 1787.
• The country takes its name from the Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra who named the country “Serra Leoa” (Lion Mountains) due to the impressive mountains he saw while sailing along the West African coast in 1462.
• Sierra Leone is one of the least developed countries in the world according to the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI). In 2020, it was the eighth least-developed.
- • The Outamba-Kilimi National Park, a tract of savannah and jungle in Sierra Leone, is home to highly diverse wildlife including primates such as chimpanzees, colobus monkeys and sooty mangabeys as well as hippos, bongo antelopes, buffalo, forest elephants and over 150 species of bird.
• It’s a tolerant nation. A huge 77% of Sierra Leone’s population is Muslim. It also has a strong Christian minority, with 22% identifying as Christian.
• Freetown’s most famous landmark is an enormous Cotton Tree located in the center of the city. Believed to be hundreds of years old, it is said to have played a vital role in the city’s history, when impoverished black settlers rested in its shade after landing in Freetown in 1787.
- • Blood diamonds, otherwise known as conflict or war diamonds, were mined and sold to fund the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.
• Within the Western Area Peninsula National Park is the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Founded in 1995 by a Sri Lankan man, the sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates endangered primates.
• Despite being a small country, it’s incredibly diverse. Sierra Leone is 27,699 square miles, which is just slightly smaller than Scotland. This makes it the 118th largest country in the world, out of the 195 UN-recognised nations.
• Sierra Leone is one of 27 countries that doesn’t have any UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, it does have six properties on the Tentative List that are intended to be submitted for nomination.
• Tiwai Island in Sierra Leone is one of the few remaining tracts of ancient rainforest in West Africa. The name means ‘Big Island’ and the entire island is a nature reserve known as Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary.
• Freetown was home to the first institution of higher learning in modern sub-Saharan Africa after the collapse of the university at Timbuktu. Fourah Bay College opened in 1827 and at the time was the only alternative to Europe and America for British colony West Africans who wanted a university degree.
• Sierra Leone’s highest mountain is Mount Bintumani which is known as the “king of the mountains”. The peak, at 1,948m high, is also the highest point in West Africa (west of Cameroon’s Mount Cameroon which is 4,095m high).
- • The most commonly eaten food in Sierra Leone is rice, which is typically served as part of every meal eaten, and is considered so ubiquitous that many Sierra Leoneans consider that a meal is not complete without it.
- • The traditional handloom cloth of the Gola and Mende tribes of West Africa covered by modern day Liberia and parts of Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali is known commonly as ‘Country cloth’, ’Kondi gula ‘ or ‘Kpokpo Cloth’.