The Republic of Sierra Leone, meaning “Black Lion” for the dark jagged mountains along its coastline, is located on the western coast of Africa. It is about the size and shape of South Carolina. English is the official language although Krio is the vernacular used by most of the native population. Of the seven million inhabitants, 77% are Muslim, 21% are Christian and the remainder practice traditional African religions. Religious freedom is protected in this country; Christians and Muslim live peacefully together.
The country was ruled by tribal chiefs until 1787 when England began settlements of former British and American slaves who earned their freedom fighting in the American Revolution; hence, the name for the capital city, Freetown. In 1808, Sierra Leone became a crown colony of England and remained under British rule until it was granted independence in 1961. A civil war instigated by the United Revolutionary Front in 1991 lasted for eleven years. Brutal atrocities (amputations/mutilations) and the forced displacement of 2 million inhabitants devastated the country. World Hope International was founded primarily to address this national crisis. The country currently has a stable government but remains one of the poorest nations in the world.