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Sierra Leone
Area: 71,740 sq km
Population: 5.7 million
Languages: English, Krio
Religions: Christian, Muslim
GNI per capita: US$320
Currency: Leone
Originally founded by freed slaves, Sierra Leone was a British colony until the mid-1900s. From 1991 to 2002, a crippling civil war caused tens of thousands of deaths, 2 million displaced people (almost one-third of the population), and a ruined infrastructure. Several years on, the country still faces the challenge of reconstruction.
Sierra Leone’s diverse landscape includes a coastline of mangrove swamps, an interior of forest-covered plateaus rising 1000 feet above sea level, and mountains to the east. The country has a hot, tropical climate with up to 195 inches of rainfall a year on the coast—making it one of the wettest places in West Africa.
Sierra Leone is also rich in diamonds and other minerals. The trade in illicit gems, known as "blood diamonds" for their role in funding conflicts, perpetuated the civil war. The government has attempted to crack down on cross-border diamond trafficking. 
Economic recovery has been slow partly because the reconstruction needs are so great. Around half of government revenue comes from donors. 
Sierra Leone has one of the lowest average incomes in the world. Nearly 75 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, with over half the population living on less than $1 a day. Most families do not have sufficient resources to purchase essential items.
Approximately two-thirds of the population depends on subsistence farming for survival. A typical family’s diet consists of rice, cassava root, and leafy vegetables. They grow barely enough food to feed their families; half of the population is chronically undernourished.
Access to health care is severely limited, especially in rural areas. Sierra Leone also has a high maternal mortality rate: one of every 50 births results in the mother’s death.