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Sierra Leone

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Africa : West Africa : Sierra Leone
Flag
Image:sl-flag.png
Quick Facts
CapitalFreetown
Governmentrepublic
Currencyleone (SLL)
Areatotal: 71,740 sq km
water: 120 sq km
land: 71,620 sq km
Population4,963,298 (2004)
LanguageEnglish (official), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole)
ReligionMuslim, Christian, indigenous beliefs
Country Calling Code+232
Internet TLD.SL
Time ZoneUTC

Sierra Leone is located on the West Coast of Africa between 7 and 10 degrees N, and longitudes 10.5 and 13 degrees W. The Republic of Guinea is to the north and northeast; Liberia is to the east and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west and south. It has 402 km of coastline.

From an approximate 100km coastal belt of low-lying land, the country rises to a mountain plateau near the eastern frontier rising 1200m to 2000m with a rich timber forest region.

The western area, on which the capital and main commercial centre of Freetown stands, is 40km long and 17km wide.

Image:sl-map.png
Map of Sierra Leone

sierra leone Travel Guide :

Sierra Leone

Regions

  • Western area
  • Southern regionSouthern region
  • Eastern regionEastern region
  • Northern regionNorthern region
Sierra Leone

Cities

  • Freetown - Capital city in Western area
  • Bo - Second city and capital of Southern regionSouthern region
  • KenemaKenema - Major city in Eastern regionEastern region
  • MakeniMakeni - Major city in Northern regionNorthern region
  • KoiduKoidu
Sierra Leone

Other destinations

Sierra Leone

Understand

Sierra Leone is recovering from several years of a brutal civil war which killed and maimed many thousands. The war ended in 2001. The government, with considerable international assistance has put in place measures which have stabilised the country politically and economically. Whilst the government sector still suffers from chronic shortage of resources, the private sector is booming. The potential for tourism is vast, but currently unrealised. Tour operators are looking closely at what the country has to offer and if the government can maintain the current momentum, Sierra Leone has a very bright future.

Sierra Leone

Climate

Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, typified by warm temperatures and high humidity. Night time temperatures rarely drop below 24C and daytime temperatures reach 30C throughout the year. From October to March the weather is generally dry with many fine, hot, sunny days. From April to September, is the rainy season. The rainfall increases to a peak in July and August and then decreases until rain has almost ceased by November.

Sierra Leone

Terrain

Coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east.

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Highest point: Loma MansaLoma Mansa (Bintimani) 1,948 m

Sierra Leone

Electricity

Electricity is officially 220V/50Hz. Sockets are British standard. Supplies are erratic and blackouts frequent. Sierra Leone does not have sufficient generation capacity to meet demand. Of the current 27MW capacity only about 15MW is operational. The Bumbuna Dam Project (http://www.bumbuna.com/index.php) is expected to provide 50MW by 2006/7.

Sierra Leone

Communications

Sierra Leone has fixed line phone service in Freetown, Bo and KenemaKenema. The service was mostly destroyed during the war but is slowly being reinstated. Digital exchanges are installed in Freetown and Bo.

There are 4 mobile phone networks (GSM900 system) - Celtel, Millicom, Africell and Comium. The major cities and industrial areas enjoy good coverage as well as some major national roads. International roaming is available.

Sierra Leone

Internet

Internet access is generally poor, but improving. The major hotels in Freetown usually have high speed access, some with wireless networks.

Sierra Leone

Get in

Sierra Leone

Passport and Visa

All persons entering Sierra Leone must have a valid passport or travel document. Citizens of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) do not require a visa to enter the country. All other nationalities will require a visa, which are issued at Sierra Leone's overseas missions.

Sierra Leone

By plane

The international airport is at Lungi, the other side of the estuary from Freetown. A short helicopter ride is required on old Russian MI8's to the Aberdeen part of Freetown. Alternatively a ferry runs to the main part of Freetown and a hovercraft sometimes runs. By road it is 2-3 hours to the city.

Sierra Leone

By car

Currently Sierra Leone can be accessed by road from Guinea(ConakryConakry). Special permits are required if transiting the border with a private vehicle. Private taxis, buses and trucks commute daily to and from ConakryConakry/Freetown.

Sierra Leone

By bus

Public transport is not generally recommended.

Sierra Leone

By boat

Sierra Leone has the 3rd largest natural harbour in the world and is looking forward to the arrival of cruise ships. Cargo and Passenger ships berth at the Queen Elizabeth II quay, while some passenger/Cargo and private crafts can land at the Government Wharf in central Freetown, arriving most times from ConakryConakry and BanjulBanjul. Enquiries should be made to Cargo Shipping Agencies.

Sierra Leone

Get around

Sierra Leone

Talk

English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)

Sierra Leone

Buy

The unit of currency is the Leone, symbol SLL. Leone coins have the value Le50 and Le100. Bank notes are Le500, Le1000, Le2000,Le5000 and 10000

Exchange rates (March 2005):

1GB£=Le5000

1US$=Le3000

Cr cards are accepted virtually nowhere at present. The Cape Sierra Hotel and the airport duty free shop do take major cards. Some of the other hotels are planning to take cards. It is possible to get money from some banks with a cr card, but the process can be long and rather costly. There are ATM's in Freetown but they are not internationally linked.

Sierra Leone

Eat

The main staple of Sierra Leonean food is rice, often accompinied by soup i.e. stews. These stews may include a flavorful and often spicy mix of meat, fish, seasonings, greens, etc., often taking hours to prepare. There are plenty of good quality restaurants offering a variety of local and international dishes.

Sierra Leone

Drink

Star beer posterStar beer poster
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Star beer poster

The national brewer Sierra Leone Breweries Limited produces the high quality Star beer. Many European beers are also imported. Soft drinks such as Coca Cola and Fanta are also locally produced. Wine is available from restaurants and supermarkets, but can be expensive and not well kept.

Sierra Leone

Sleep

There are some excellent hotels/guest houses in Freetown. Facilities are very limited in other cities, although improvements are being made.

Blackheath Guest House 3 Wilkinson Road Freetown

Bookings Contact: 44 (0)7946 886849 (UK)

Sierra Leone

Learn

Sierra Leone

Work

Sierra Leone

Stay safe

Sierra Leone was for many years on the list of countries to avoid (as published by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (http://www.fco.gov.uk/)). With this obstacle lifted, tourism and investment are starting to take off. Whilst petty crime is fairly common - watch personal property carefully, violent crime is very rare. It is safe to walk the streets, even at night, although the lack of lighting can be a problem.

Sierra Leone

Stay healthy

Waterborne diseases, malaria and other tropical diseases are prevalent. You should consider taking medication to protect against malaria and using insect repellent. Vaccination against rabies and yellow fever (required to enter Guinea) are strongly advised. HIV/AIDS is prevalent. Lassa fever can be contracted in KenemaKenema and the east. If you have travelled in this region you should seek urgent medical advice for any fever not positively identified as malaria.

Medical facilities are poor. You should carry basic medical supplies. You are advised to take medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.

Sierra Leone

Respect

Sierra Leone has a long history of religious harmony. Both Muslims and Christians live and worship side by side.

Sierra Leone

Contact

Sierra Leone

External links

  • Visitors guide (http://www.visitsierraleone.org/) - Unofficial visitors guide to Sierra Leone

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