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Sierra Leone ( (listen), also UK: , US: ), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea to the northeast. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate with a diverse environment ranging from savanna to rainforests, a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and a population of 7,092,113 as of the 2015 census. The capital and largest city is Freetown. The country is divided into five administrative regions which are subdivided into sixteen districts.. Sierra Leone is a constitutional Republic with a unicameral parliament, and a directly elected president for a five year term, and eligible to run for reelection for another five year maximum term limit.
Sierra Leone achieved independence from Britain on 27 April 1961, led by Milton Margai who became the country's first Prime Minister and was also leader of the SLPP. Sierra Leone held its first general election as an Independent nation on May 27, 1962. Siaka Stevens ruled the country from 1968 to 1985, and during his time in power, his political opponents and critics of his government were suppressed, and press critical of his government were shut down. On 19 April 1971, Stevens' government abolished Sierra Leone's parliamentary system and declared Sierra Leone a presidential republic. From 1978 to 1985, president Stevens’ APC party was the only legal political party in Sierra Leone.
The multiparty democratic constitution of Sierra Leone was again adopted in 1991 by retired Major General President Joseph Saidu Momoh. In 1991, a group of former Sierra Leone soldiers critical of former president Stevens and seating president Momoh, and lead by former Army Corporal Foday Sankoh, launched a brutal civil war in the country on March 23, 1991 under their official name the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). On 29 April 1992, a group of Junior soldiers in the Sierra Leone Army, led by a 25-year-old Captain Valentine Strasser overthrew President Momoh and ended the APC 24 year rule of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone was under military junta government from 1992 to 1996 under Strasser, and briefly under his successor Major General Julius Maada Bio. The country returned to a democratically elected government when the military Junta under Bio handed the presidency to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP after his victory in the 1996 election. However, the Sierra Leone military overthrew President Kabbah in a coup on 25 May 1997, and Major General Johnny Paul Koroma became the military ruler. A coalition of West African Ecowas armed forces led by Nigeria reinstated President Kabbah by military force in February 1998. In January 2002, President Kabbah officially announced the end of the civil war. Sierra Leone has had an uninterrupted democratic government from 1998 to present.
Sixteen ethnic groups inhabit Sierra Leone, the two largest and most influential are the Temne and Mende people. About two per cent of the country's population are the Krio people, who are descendants of freed African American and West Indian slaves. English is the official language used in schools and government administration; however, the Krio is the most widely spoken language across Sierra Leone, and is spoken by 98% of the country's population. The Krio language unites all the ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction. Sierra Leone is 77% Muslim, with an influential Christian minority of 22%. The country is regarded as one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world. Muslims and Christians collaborate and interact with each other very peacefully, and religious violence is very rare. The major Christian and Muslim holidays are official public holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.Sierra Leone is a major producer of diamond, titanium, bauxite and gold, and it has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile. Despite this natural wealth, about 70% of its population live in poverty. Sierra Leone is a member of many international organisations, including the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Development Bank, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
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