1.1. Location, climate and relief of Sierra Leone
Figure 1.1: Map of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is situated along the Atlantic west coast of Africa, between latitudes 6°55’ and 10°00’ north, and longitudes 10°14’ and 13°18’. It has a coastline of about 560 km stretching from 6°55’ north to 9° north. The coastal zone covers an area of about 71,740 km2 (Fig. 1.1).
The climate is tropical with two well-defined seasons of wet and dry weather. The wet season generally lasts from May to November with two periods of squally weather, in March-April and May, and again in September to October. The highest observed cloudiness from the area is 6–7 oktas and is closely related to the influence of the equatorial monsoons blowing from June to November. The cloud amount decreases to 3–5 oktas during the months of December to April (Pratt et al. 2007).
The highest amount of rainfall occurs during the rainy season. The heaviest rains occur in July and August. The mean monthly amount of rainfall reaches its maximum in July and August, when the average number of rainy days is 27 (Pratt et al. 2007).
The country is divided into the following main relief regions: the coastline interior lowland plains, the interior plateau and mountains. The shelf covers an area (to 200 meter depth) of 30,000 km2.