Maestra, Sierra, mountains, Cuba: see Sierra Maestra.
Sierra, Justo, 1848-1912, Mexican educator and historian. He entered the literary life as a romantic poet but later devoted himself wholeheartedly to founding schools, lecturing, and seeking in every way to quicken new intellectual life in Mexico. Sierra was to a large extent responsible for the intellectual renaissance in Mexico early in the 20th cent. He was minister of education under Porfirio Díaz and refounded the National Univ. of Mexico. His best-known work is a history of Mexico showing the growth of national feeling and culture, La evolución política del pueblo mexicano (1900-1902, tr. 1969).

See study by R. W. Weatherhead (1966).

Mountain range, eastern California, U.S. The Sierra Nevada range extends more than 250 mi (400 km) from the Mojave Desert to the Cascade Range, and it averages about 50 mi (80 km) in width. The peaks of the range are 11,000–14,000 ft (3,350–4,270 m) high; Mount Whitney is the highest mountain. It is a year-round recreation centre and is easily accessed from the state's large urban areas.

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Principal mountain system, Mexico. It includes the ranges of the Sierra Madre Occidental (to the west), the Sierra Madre Oriental (to the east), and the Sierra Madre del Sur (to the south)—all running roughly northwest-southeast. The Sierra Madre Occidental extends for about 700 mi (1,100 km) parallel with the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean; summits reach elevations above 6,000 ft (1,800 m), with some exceeding 10,000 ft (3,000 m). The Sierra Madre Oriental originates near the Rio Grande to the north and extends roughly parallel with the Gulf of Mexico for about 700 mi; it has an average elevation of about 7,000 ft (2,150 m), but some peaks rise above 10,000 ft (Mount Peña Nevada). The Sierra Madre del Sur stretches through the southern Mexican states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, reaching elevations of about 6,500 ft (2,000 m), with a few peaks above 10,000 ft.

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officially Republic of Sierra Leone

Country, western Africa. Area: 27,699 sq mi (71,740 sq km). Population (2007 est.): 5,866,000. Capital: Freetown. The Mende and Temne are the largest of about 18 ethnic groups. Languages: English (official), Krio (derived from English and a variety of African languages). Religions: Islam (predominantly Sunni), Christianity, traditional beliefs. Currency: leone. Sierra Leone has four physical regions: the coastal swamp; the Sierra Leone Peninsula, with thickly wooded mountains that rise from the swamps; the interior plains, consisting of grasslands and rolling wooded country; and the interior plateau and mountain regions. Wildlife includes chimpanzees, crocodiles, and many species of birds. The economy is based largely on agriculture and mining; rice, cassava, coffee, cacao, and oil palm are major crops, and diamonds, rutile, and bauxite are mined. Sierra Leone is a republic with one legislative house; the head of state and government is the president. The earliest inhabitants were probably the Bulom and Temne; Mande-speaking peoples began arriving in the 15th century. The coastal region was visited by the Portuguese in the 15th century, who built a fort near the site of modern Freetown. European ships visited the coast regularly to trade for slaves and ivory, and the English built trading posts on offshore islands in the 17th century. British abolitionists and philanthropists founded Freetown in 1787 as a private venture for freed and runaway slaves. In 1808 the coastal settlement became a British colony. The region became a British protectorate in 1896. It achieved independence in 1961 and became a republic in 1971. Since independence Sierra Leone experienced a series of military coups. An 11-year civil war, which was marked by horrific atrocities and further devastated the country, ended in 2002.

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U.S. organization for the conservation of natural resources, headquartered in San Francisco. It was founded in 1892 by a group of Californians, including John Muir, who wanted to sponsor wilderness outings in Pacific Coast mountain regions. As its first president, Muir initiated the club's involvement in political action on behalf of nature conservation. With branches in all 50 states, it works to educate the public on environmental issues and lobbies local, state, and federal agencies for environmental legislation.

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Port city (pop., 2001: 188,477), capital of the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. Founded in 1494, it occupies a small plain between two usually waterless ravines. It was attacked by the British in 1657 and 1797; the latter assault was led by Horatio Nelson. After 1877 growth was spurred by the banana and tomato trade and, later, by harbour improvements and tourism. In 1936 Francisco Franco, then captain general of the Canary Islands, organized from Santa Cruz the national uprising that led to the Spanish Civil War. Industries include oil refining.

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City (pop., 2001: 1,116,059), east-central Bolivia. Founded by Spaniards from Paraguay in 1561 at what is now San José de Chiquitos, it was attacked repeatedly by Indians until 1595. It then was moved to its present location and renamed Santa Cruz de la Sierra. In 1811 its inhabitants declared their independence from Spain. Bolivia's largest city, it is a trade centre for crops, including sugarcane and rice, grown in the surrounding area. It has an oil refinery and is the seat of a university.

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