Population:5132138 (July 2010 est.)
About: In 1462, Portuguese adventurer Pedro de Cintra visited the mountainous cost of present day Sierra Leone and named the hills Sierra Leona, or Lion Mountains. By 1495 the Portuguese established a... read more In 1462, Portuguese adventurer Pedro de Cintra visited the mountainous cost of present day Sierra Leone and named the hills Sierra Leona, or Lion Mountains. By 1495 the Portuguese established a fort on the site of present day Freetown. The earliest peoples to inhabit the region were called the Bullom. Other African peoples moved into the area during the 14th and 15th Centuries. The coast was visited by European traders in slaves and ivory from the late 15th century. The British colony of Sierra Leone began as a settlement of freed-slaves in 1787. The first settlement was made by a group 1400 freed black slaves and 60 white people. A strip of land on the peninsula was bought from an African chief and the settlers started out as small peasant farmers. However, the presence of disease saw many perish while the others were driven out by another chief who objected to their presence. A fresh start was made in 1791 by a group of freed slaves from American plantations and who, after the war of independence, were initially taken to Nova Scotia by the British. Their settlement on the peninsula was named Freetown. In 1808, Freetown became a British Crown Colony and, in 1896, the regions interior, which had been recognized as an area of British influence, became a British protectorate. Not long after the British began collecting property tax payments from local inhabitants. This led Chief Bai Bureh to began a small rebellion against the British which was quickly put down but lay the seeds for future independence. The country achieved independence in 1961 with Sir Milton Margai as its first President. March 1991 saw the commencement of a decade of brutal civil war that left over fifty thousand dead and displaced millions. In 2002, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah declared War don don, pis don kam, marking the official end of the war. The country was host to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) from 1999 to 2005. At its height, the peacekeeping outlet was comprised of 17,500 troops. UNAMSIL withdrew from the country on 31 December 2005.