On May 15-16 (depending on the moon in various locations around the world), Muslims will begin their month-long celebration of Ramadan. The end of the month of Ramadan, marked by the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations, will take place between June 14-16 (depending on the country and when Ramadan started). Many businesses, restaurants, and government administrations are expected to operate on a reduced schedule during this holy month. Diplomatic missions may also operate on a similar schedule.
Transportation disruptions are to be anticipated during this period due to an increased number of travelers, especially in airports. Heavy traffic after sundown is to be anticipated as Muslims typically gather for festivities and to eat with family, especially over weekends. Furthermore, traffic accidents tend to increase during Ramadan (especially at dusk) due to a combination of hunger, dehydration, exhaustion, and impatience.
Local authorities also typically observe an increase in incidents of petty crime during this period.
Finally, heavy rains are to be expected during Ramadan as Sierra Leone's rainy season spans from May to November. Power outages as well as water cuts are possible and can lead to poor food preservation (malfunctioning refrigerators and freezers) and shortages of drinking water. Traffic may be disrupted if flooding blocks major thoroughfares.
Ramadan is a period of reflection and self-restraint and carries great significance within the Muslim calendar. Muslims traditionally observe daytime fasting and are called to practice increased devotion. Around 77 percent of Sierra Leone's population is Muslim.
Individuals in Sierra Leone are advised to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public by day during this period. Travelers are also advised to allow additional time for travel and to avoid any form of public demonstration or public gathering.
On a more general note, individuals should maintain an elevated level of vigilance in the country - particularly in Freetown - due to high crime rates.
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