SIERRA LEONE IS on the West African coast, covering 27,699 sq. mi. (71,740 sq. km.), which is equivalent to an area the size of South Carolina. Sierra Leone has a population of 6,017,643 people (est. in July 2005), with nearly one million people living in the capital, Freetown. Sierra Leone was the lowest ranking, among 177 countries surveyed, in the United Nations Human Development Indicators (2006), in part because of an 11-year civil war (1991–2002) that resulted in 50,000 deaths and the displacement of 2 million people. The civil war also accelerated the depletion of natural resources including diamonds, tropical timber, and wild game. Sierra Leone has a per capita gross domestic product of $600 (2004 est.), with 68 percent of the population living in ...

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