, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone
, is a country in West Africa
. It is bordered by Guinea
in the north, Liberia
in the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of 71,740 km2
(27,699 sq mi) and has a population estimated at 6.4 million. The country is a constitutional republic
comprising three provinces and the Western Area
, which are further divided into fourteen districts
The Sierra Leone government officially recognizes fifteen ethnic groups
, each with its own language and customs. The two largest and most influential are the Mende
peoples, with each comprising 30% of the population.
Over two decades of government neglect of the interior followed by the spilling over of the Liberian conflict into its borders eventually led to the Sierra Leone Civil War
, which began in 1991 and was resolved in 2000 after the struggling Nigerian led United Nations
troops were heavily reinforced by a British force spearheaded by 42 Commando of the Royal Marines as well as several British Army units. The arrival of this force in what was codenamed OPERATION PALLISER resulted in the defeat of rebel forces and restored the civilian government elected in 1998 to Freetown. Since then, almost 72,500 former combatants have been disarmed and the country has reestablished a functioning democracy
. The Special Court for Sierra Leone
was set up in 2002 to deal with war crimes
and crimes against humanity
committed since 1996.
Sierra Leone is the second lowest ranked country on the Human Development Index
and seventh lowest on the Human Poverty Index
, suffering from endemic corruption and suppression of the press.
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