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Sierra Leone:
Geography

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Background
Definition
Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 2002 that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population). The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country's stability. The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 presidential election, but still look to the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) - a civilian UN mission - to support efforts to consolidate peace. The new government's priorities include furthering development, creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption.
Location
Definition
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia
Geographic coordinates
Definition
8 30 N, 11 30 W
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 71,740 sq km
land: 71,620 sq km
water: 120 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 958 km
border countries: Guinea 652 km, Liberia 306 km
Coastline
Definition
402 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)
Terrain
Definition
coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Loma Mansa (Bintimani) 1,948 m
Natural resources
Definition
diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 7.95%
permanent crops: 1.05%
other: 91% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
160 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 0.38 cu km/yr (5%/3%/92%)
per capita: 69 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to February); sandstorms, dust storms
Environment - current issues
Definition
rapid population growth pressuring the environment; overharvesting of timber, expansion of cattle grazing, and slash-and-burn agriculture have resulted in deforestation and soil exhaustion; civil war depleted natural resources; overfishing
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note
Definition
rainfall along the coast can reach 495 cm (195 inches) a year, making it one of the wettest places along coastal, western Africa


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