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Sierra Leone is 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 peninsula, on which the capital and main commercial center of Freetown stands, is 40km long and 17km wide with a mountainous interior. The name Sierra Leone means the "Lion Mountains". (less...) (more...)
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About Sierra Leone
In 1462, Pedro de Cintra mapped the hills surrounding what is now called Sierra Leone, naming the oddly shaped mountain, Lion Mountains.
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.
Run the Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon - usually May/June - come to the beautiful countryside of Makeni to run either a marathon, half marathon or 5k in aid of Street Child of Sierra Leone (http://www.street-child.co.uk/). The run is an opportunity for adventure and a chance to visit Street Child projects and meet the people who will benefit from fund raising alongside the opportunity to travel and be inspired by the landscape and people of Sierra Leone. http://www.kilnsierraleonemarathon.com/
The main staple of Sierra Leonean food is rice, often accompanied by soup i.e. stews. These stews may include a delicious 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.
The diet of Sierra Leoneans like many African countries is very healthy. Many tend to eat some fresh fruit picked from trees growing in their homes or freshly picked by market vendors that very day. They also eat seafood particularly in the capital Freetown which is on the Atlantic coast. It is common to go to areas such as Lumley Beach where one can find local fishermen pulling in nets from the Atlantic filled with fish such as crabs, lobsters, oysters, snappers and many, many more.
The locals of Sierra Leone keep healthy by eating many plant-based dishes which are high in fibre, such as cassava leaves, potato leaves, okra, and more.
The national brewer Sierra Leone Breweries Limited produces Star beer and as of October 2013, the premium Mützig beer. Many European beers are also imported. As in many African countries Guinness is widely popular. Soft drinks such as Coca Cola and Fanta are locally produced. Wine is available from restaurants and supermarkets, but can be expensive. Local brewed palm wine (called "poyo" in Krio), is very popular throughout Sierra Leone.
The unit of currency is the Leone, symbol Le. Leone coins have the value Le50, Le100 and Le500. Bank notes are Le1000, Le2000,Le5000 and Le10000. On May 14th 2010, new bank notes were introduced. The new notes are slightly different in size to the originals and are supposedly more durable. The old Le500 note has not been replaced. The designs are very similar to the old notes. The new notes far outnumber the old type as of the end of May 2010, so it can be expected that people will not want to accept the old notes for much longer. The old type can be exchanged at banks for one year after the launch date of the new notes.
Exchanging money is very easy, either through the black market or banks. The small bank at the airport offers reasonable rates. GB£, Euro or US$ are most popular, although others are possible.
Exchange rates (March 2013):
Credit cards are accepted in a few supermarkets, restaurants and hotels (Visa only). The airport duty free shop does take major cards. Some of the other hotels are planning to take cards. It is possible to get money from some banks with a credit card, but the process can be long and rather costly. There are ATMs in Freetown most are not internationally linked. Rokel Commercial Bank has ATMs that accept international Visa cards.
Money and daily life As much as Sierra Leone is a poor country it will surprise you with the high cost of everything. The lack of a good import system and high import duties plus 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST) mean that many goods are double the price that one would expect to pay in other countries.
Foreigners often pay up to ten times the price quoted to locals when it comes to goods you find on the street so make sure to bargain and lower the price as much as you can. If you are prepared to stay in cheap guest houses (and that means not a safe location with bed bugs in the bed) and travel only by local bus (poda poda) and eat only at street corners (not recommended for your health), you can get by in Freetown on a minimum of around LE 220,000 (about $55) per day. If you want to eat a decent restaurant meal every now and then and stay in mid-range accommodation, a more realistic budget is around LE 440,000 (about $110). If you want to eat and sleep well, you can easily chew through LE 880,000 (about $220)per day.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Sierra Leone on Wikivoyage.
Cities in Sierra Leone
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Freetown is the capital city of Sierra Leone and is the heart of the Western region. It is on a peninsula on the south bank of the estuary of the Sierra Leone River. The city lies at the foot of the peninsula mountains and faces one of the best natural harbours on the west coast of Africa. The peninsula is ... (read more)
- Cotton Tree
- Lumley Beach
- Fourah Bay College
- National Stadium
- Bunce Island
Points of Interest in Sierra Leone
The beaches of the Freetown peninsula are spectacular, and on an average day, deserted. There are at least ten that could be described as world-class.
Bonthe Town, on Sherbro Island, is a former British Colonial Town, with several beautiful stone churches, and a rich culture.
Tiwai Island (in the middle of a river in SE Sierra Leone) is teeming with rare wildlife.
Rural West African villages: experience hospitality and the tranquility of the bush.
Snorkeling and scuba diving around Banana Island.
The Turtle Islands, difficult to get to, but idyllic.
Outamba-Kilimi National Park is a park consisting of savannas and jungles with diverse wildlife.
Mount Bintumani is the highest mountain in Sierra Leone with excellent views of the summit.
Cotton Tree - Freetown
Loma Mountains National Park - Waidala
Outamba-Kilimi National Park - Kamakwie
Lumley Beach - Freetown
Fourah Bay College - Freetown
National Stadium - Freetown
Bunce Island - Freetown
Mount Bintumani - Waidala