A map of Sierra Leone Sierra Leone lies on the west coast of Africa. Most of the country is covered with flat savanna grasslands and scrubland, with patches of rainforest. In the east, forested slopes form the edge of the west African plateau. Along the coast are mangrove swamps and sandy beaches. The climate is tropical: there is a rainy season from May to November and a dry season from December to May. During the dry season, harmattan winds blow in from the Sahara Desert, bringing cooler nights. Once a British colony, Sierra Leone is today still recovering from over a decade of civil war, which ended in 2002. About half of its population makes a living from subsistence farming, growing just enough food for themselves and their families to eat.
About 16 different ethnic groups live in Sierra Leone, each with their own language and traditions. The two largest are the Mende, who mainly live in the south, and the Temne, who live in the north. Most people are Muslim, while 10% are Christian. They live alongside one another peacefully. A small number of Sierra Leoneans, about 2% of the population, are descended from freed Jamaican slaves who settled in Freetown. They speak Krio, or Creole, a mixture of English and indigenous languages. During the civil war in neighbouring Liberia, many Liberians crossed over into Sierra Leone and still live there today.
Sierra Leone was the place where thousands of West Africans began their forced journeys across the Atlantic to be sold as slaves from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
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