The Bulom people were thought to have been the earliest inhabitants of Sierra Leone, followed by the Mende and Temne peoples in the 15th century and thereafter the Fulani. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the land and gave Sierra Leone its name, which means “lion mountains.” Freetown, on the coast, was ceded to English settlers in 1787 as a home for blacks discharged from the British armed forces and also for runaway slaves who had found asylum in London. In 1808 the coastal area became a British colony, and in 1896 a British province was proclaimed over the land. Sierra Leone finally achieved independence from Great Britain in 1961, and Sir Milton Margai was elected the country's first Prime Minister. Riots erupted in Freetown against Sir Milton's policies, and in 1967 Siaka Stevens was sworn in as Prime Minister. After an eighteen year reign, Stevens retired from politics in 1985, and Major General Momoh was appointed to the position. In March 1991, after a failed attempt to overthrow Momoh's government, a civil war unfolded in the country, lasting a decade and resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population). These days, the government is slowly reestablishing its authority after the civil war.
Sierra Leone is extremely poor. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. The country possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, but it is still recovering from the civil war that ended in the early 2000s that destroyed most institutions. In recent years economic growth has been driven by mining particularly of iron ore and oil exploration. The country exports rutile, diamonds, and bauxite, and is vulnerable to drops in international goods prices.
Islam is the majority religion in Sierra Leone, followed by 60% of the population. Christians make up 30%of the population and traditional African Religions are practiced by most of the rest of Sierra Leone's people. Minority religions with an existence in Sierra Leone include the Baha'i Faith, Hinduism and Judaism. The constitution of Sierra Leone guarantees religious freedom and the government does not tolerate its abuse. Religious diversity has rarely led to conflict in Sierra Leone.
The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) is the armed forces of Sierra Leone, responsible for the territorial security of Sierra Leone's border and defending the national interests of Sierra Leone, within the structure of its international duties. The armed forces were formed after independence in 1961, on the fundamentals of the former British Royal West African Frontier Force, then present in the country. The Sierra Leone Armed Forces currently consist of around 8,500 personnel.
Sierra Leonians are avid soccer players and fans. Baseball and basketball are also very popular sports in Sierra Leone. Before the civil war Sierra Leone boasted a bunch of sport teams both professional and semiprofessional teams. During the civil war many sports and teams stood at a standstill. Sierra Leone also almost won the Africa Cup in 1999, during the civil war, even with lack of funds.
This video shows the poverty of a town in Sierra Leone
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