A republic in western africa, south of guinea and west of liberia. Its capital is freetown. Its coast was first visited by the portuguese in 1462, later by english slave traders. In 1787 english philanthropists sponsored settlements on the coast for runaway and freed slaves. After a clash with the french in 1893 the region was acquired by treaty in 1895, proclaimed a protectorate in 1896, and achieved independence in 1961. The name is from the spanish sierra (mountain chain) _ leone (lion), meaning lion mountains, which refers not to the roar of lions (they are not found in this part of africa) but to the noise from claps of thunder from storm clouds constantly surrounding the mountains.