Sierra Leone Facts
The highest point in Sierra Leone is Bintimani peak (1,948 m) in the Loma Mountains.
The Portuguese visited the region in the middle of the fifteenth century.
Pedro da Cintra, the Portuguese navigator, named the the Freetown peninsula "Sierra Leone".
Sierra Leone is derived from the Portuguese for Lion Mountains.
Freetown has one of the largest natural harbours in the world.
In 1787 British abolitionists (people against the slave trade) established the settlement of Province of Freedom - Freetown - for those who had escaped slavery.
Slaves who rebelled in Jamaica made their way to Freetown; others came from Nova Scotia (Canada) and some were rescued from slave ships by the British navy (after the UK Act prohibiting the slave trade).
A giant cotton tree in Freetown is the national symbol of Sierra Leone. It is said that the tree was planted when Freetown was founded.
The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (1807) prohibited the slave trade within the British Empire. (Slaves in the British colonies did not gain their freedom until the 1830s. The 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act began the process leading to emancipation).
Freetown became a British Colony in 1808.
In 1896 Britain established a Protectorate over the Freetown region.
Sierra Leone achieved its independence in 1961.
Following a change in the Constitution (1971) Sierra Leone became a republic.
Sierra Leone is a member of the [British] Commonwealth.
Civil war, lasting until 2002, began in Sierra Leone in 1991.
Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, was charged with war crimes in the International Criminal Court in The Hague over his alleged role in Sierra Leone's civil war.
United Nations forces arrived in Sierra Leone at the end of 1999 and withdrew in December 2005.
Blood Diamond, the film set in Sierra Leone's civil war in the 1990s, highlights the use of illegal diamond profits to fund fighting in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fourah Bay College, now part of the University of Sierra Leone, dates back to the early nineteenth century and is the oldest higher education institution in West Africa.