About Sierra Leone

Located on West Africa’s coast, the Republic of Sierra Leone has a population of about 6.8 million people. The Portuguese origins of the country’s name translates to “Lion Mountains,” referencing the hills that surround the capital of Freetown, one the largest natural harbors in the world. The primarily agricultural country has deposits of gold, diamonds, bauxite, and rutile. Large ethnic groups include the Mende and the Temne; English and Krio are the nation’s official languages.

The country continues to recover from a devastating civil war that ended in 2002. Since then, Sierra Leone has had significant and impressive economic growth and was on track to reach middle-income status by 2035. However, progress was hindered by an Ebola outbreak in 2014 that infected more than 14,000 and killed nearly 4,000 people. The country is still recovering from this crisis.

While life expectancy continues to increase in Sierra Leone, it is still one of the lowest in the world at around 55 years. Likewise, although child mortality continues to decrease, the maternal mortality rate remains one of the highest in the world. The country has significantly higher rates of malaria than other countries in the same region. While some progress has been made to address illness and disease, the impact of the civil war left the country with a debilitated health system, tens of thousands of war amputees, and shortages of equipment, supplies, and doctors. Both communicable and non-communicable diseases such as malaria, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, ischemic heart disease, diarrheal diseases, stroke, HIV/AIDS, congenital defects, tuberculosis, and meningitis cause the most deaths in Sierra Leone.

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