Sierra Leone, a relatively tiny country on the west coast of Africa, totals 28,000 square miles, or 71,470 square kilometers. A 1994 population estimate puts the country at 4.2 million people (53 percent female, 47 percent male). Sierra Leone is bounded on the west and southwest by the Atlantic Ocean, on the northwest, north, and northeast by Guinea, and on the east and southeast by Liberia.
It was a Portuguese sailor, Pedro da Cintra who, on a visit to this land in 1462, named the place he saw as Serra Lyoa (lion range or lion mountain). On approaching the mountainous peninsula, Pedro da Cintra saw the mountains poised like lions. The name Serra Lyoa gradually acquired its present form, Sierra Leone. What is known as Sierra Leone today came into being only in 1896. Before 1896, the name only referred to the mountainous peninsula and its adjacent islands.