Sierra Leone is a republic in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea on the north, Liberia in the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest. It has a total area of 71,740 sq km (27,699 sq mi) and an estimated population of 6 million (2011 United Nations estimate). Freetown is the capital, largest city, and its economic and political centre. About sixteen ethnic groups inhabit Sierra Leone, the two largest and most influential being the Temne and the Mende.
The British Empire colonised Sierra Leone in the 1780s. A large number of freed slaves from the United States and the Caribbean were resettled there in later decades, and the Protectorate of Sierra Leone was formally organised in 1896. Sierra Leone became independent in 1961. Government corruption and mismanagement of resources contributed to the Civil War (1991-2002), which devastated the country and left more than 50,000 dead, much infrastructure destroyed, and over 2,000,000 displaced as refugees abroad. In 2014, an Ebola outbreak further weakened the country.