With a land area of 27,699 square miles (71,740 square kilometers), it is slightly smaller than the state of South Carolina.Sierra Leone is bounded by Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.The emergence of a modern national identity, however, did not begin until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Bunce Island, off the coast of Freetown, became one of the centers of the West African slave trade.Over two thousand slaves per year were channeled through this port, thus increasing the incidence of warfare and violence among the local population.
There are between fifteen and twenty ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, depending on one's linguistic tendency to "lump" or "split" groups of people speaking different dialects.
This is followed by low-lying mangrove swamps, rain-forested plains and farmland, and finally a mountainous plateau in the east, where Mount Bintumani rises to 6,390 feet (1,948 meters).
The climate is tropical, with two seasons determining the agricultural cycle: the rainy season from May to November, followed by the dry season from December to May, which includes harmattan , when cool, dry winds blow in off the Sahara Desert.
Yet the palm tree and the rice grain are the national symbols par excellence, immortalized in currency, song, and folklore, and valued for their central and staple contributions to everyday life.
Different species of palms contribute to cooking oil, thatch roofs, fermented wine, soap, fruits, and nuts.