Sierra Leone is an independent republic which lies on the on the bulge of Africa and forms part of the West African Region. The capital city is Freetown. Other major towns are Bo, Kenema and Makeni.
The official language is English but Krio is more widely spoken. The local currency is the Leone. (US$ / L – current exchange rate).
The mining industry in Sierra Leone, principally diamond mining, is the country’s main source of foreign exchange. The oil industry is also an important sub-element in the economy of the country. While the country has no proven commercially viable oil reserves, its downstream oil industry is well developed. Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility National Power Authority of Sierra Leone (NPA). Resources lie within the agricultural and fishing industries with the majority of the labour force occupied in subsistence agricultural and light manufacturing. The fishing industry is growing specifically with regard to oyster farming and shrimp production. Sierra Leone is attractive as a tourist destination due to the beaches on the south side, national parks and nature reserves. However, poor infrastructure and facilities make these destinations inaccessible.
Poor infrastructure as well as social unrest slows economic growth in Sierra Leone and negotiations to end the civil disorder are necessary for the economy to survive. The road network in Sierra Leone needs improvement and while the port at Freetown is one of the best natural harbours it is small and does not fulfil its potential. There is a large wealth differential, causing over two thirds of the population to be poverty-stricken. Political instability, corruption and poor governance has led to a lack of foreign investment that forces the country to rely on foreign financial aid.
The international time zone for Sierra Leone is GMT and the international dialling code is +232. The principal airlines that fly to Sierra Leone are British Airways, KLM and Sabena as well as a number of regional airlines. The country’s international airport is at Lungi, 2 hours away from Freetown. There is a helicopter service between the airport and the capital. All nationals except those of the ECOWAS countries require visas in order to visit Sierra Leone.
Due to the state of health, the immunisation status, location and the local disease situation cholera, hepatitis A, malaria, schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and yellow fever (regional) can occur in the Ivory Coast. A personal risk assessment is recommended prior to arrival in the country and medical insurance should be arranged.