Four different regions can be told geographically:
- The coastal swamp, mainly sand and clay from the coast up to 25 miles, low lying and flooded quite often.
- The Sierra Leone Peninsula, wooded mountains parallel to the coast for the next 25 miles inwards, being Picket Hill the highest peak (2,900 feet).
- The interior plains form swamps, “Bolilands”, in the rainy season, where only grass grows in the dry season. Some hills are scattered raising abruptly over 1,000 feet.
- The interior plateau is composed of granite and a thick laterite crust bounded, to the west, by metamorphic rocks. There are mountains as well, like Loma Mansa (Bintimani) almost 6,400 feet high. Swamps also occur in this region due to rivers’ flow.
The whole country is rich in rivers and creeks. We can mention nine major rivers: Kolenté, Seli, Gbangbaia, Jong, Sewa, Wanjee, Moa, Mano and Meli (tributary to Moa).
Soil is mainly acid , yellow-brown and contain oxids of aluminium and iron. Its Kaolin clay is readily workable and free draining. Nutrients depend mostly on vegetation previously burned and cleared. Nevertheless, the coastal soil is sandy and poor and swamps create problems with draining and the plateau is intractable for agriculture.
Two seasons: the dry and humid ones present in tropical countries, with temperatures around 20ºC,although in the north east they vary from 10ºC to 30ºC depending on the time and month. Rains are over twice more frequent in the coastal side, reachong 200 inches anually.
Original trees, like African mahogany and teak, have been gradually replaced by more profitable species like palm trees. The former still remain in the Gola Forest Reserves.The erosion of farming and fires have made the savanna increase its extension. It is mainly consising of fire resistant savanna trees and long grass. Coastal vegetation consist of mangrove and piassava.
Animals like leopards, hyenas, elephants, are rarely seen oputside reserves and chimpanzees and monkeys are found in the forests. Antelopes and buschpigs are more common and better distributed. Malaria mosquito and tse-tse flies are included in a wide sort of insects.Hippopotamuses, crocodiles and manatees fill the rivers and rare species like dwarf crocodile and pigmy hippopotamus are found as well. Tunas, barracudas, bongas herrings and lobsters are common fish in its coast.Among birds, there are emerald cuckoos, owls and vultures.
In order to protect a decreasing wildlife in ten years of conflicts, some reserves have been created including Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Outamba Kilimi National Park and Tacugama Chipanzee Sanctuary.
- Sierra Leone had an estimated 2010 population of 5,245,695 and growth rate of 2.216% a year. The country’s population is mostly young, with an estimated 41.7% under 15, and rural, with an estimated 62% of people living outside the cities.
- There are 18 different ethnic groups, all similar in cultural features, like secret societies, chieftaincy, patrilineal descent and farming methods, being the most important the Mende, found in the east and south of the country, and the Temne, in the northwest and centre. Other groups are: Limba, Kuranku, Susu, Yalunka and Loko in the north, Kono nad Kisi in the east and Sherbro in the southwest. Other groups coming from Guinea and settled in the north and east, mainly along the coast, include the Bullom, Vai, Fulani, Manlike and Krim. The creoles are found mainly around freetown. Other immigrants from USA and America settled in the 19th century and Lebanese and Indian traders are found in cities.
- The Creoles’ language is Krio, a mixture of English and other african languages and is used as lingua franca throughout the country, though main languages are Mande and Mel, and English is the language for the administration, education and commerce. Presence of muslims include Arabic as language as well and one of the autoctonous languaga, Vai, has its own script. Islam is the first religion with two thirds of the population, followed by christianism although they are mixed with other traditional religions.
- Rice farming is the main activity in rural areas and population settlements consist of around 35 houses and 200 inhabitants. The traditional round village has been changed and now settlements follow a road or a grid with more space among houses. Cattle aising is confined to the north and traditional jobs like dyeing clothes or woodworking are decreasing due to cheap importations. Fishing is lately increasing its importance. But for Freetown, cities developed after II World War. Bo was an early educational centre, Kenema, grown after diamond mining, is another important city along with Makeni, a major trading centre. Many towns and cities were desroyed in the civil war.