Sierra Leone Population: 6,312,212


« Previous Country | Next Country »   Back to Flag Counter Overview
The British set up a trading post near present-day Freetown in the 17th century. Originally, the trade involved timber and ivory, but later it expanded to slaves. Following the American Revolution, a colony was established in 1787 and Sierra Leone became a destination for resettling black loyalists who had originally been resettled in Nova Scotia. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, British crews delivered thousands of Africans liberated from illegal slave ships to Sierra Leone, particularly Freetown. The colony gradually expanded inland during the course of the 19th century; independence was attained in 1961. Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war (1991-2002) that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population). The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, has developed as a guarantor of the country's stability; the armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007, 2012, and 2018 national elections. In March 2014, the closure of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone marked the end of more than 15 years of peacekeeping and political operations in Sierra Leone. The government's stated priorities include free primary and secondary education, economic growth, accountable governance, health, and infrastructure.

    Rainfall along the coast can reach 495 cm (195 inches) a year, making it one of the wettest places along coastal, western Africa
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia
Geographic coordinates: 8 30 N, 11 30 W
Area: total: 71,740 sq km
land: 71,620 sq km
water: 120 sq km

Size comparison: slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land Boundaries: total: 1,093 km border countries (2): Guinea 794 km, Liberia 299 km
Coastline: 402 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)
Terrain: coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east
Natural resources: diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite
Land use: agricultural land: 56.2% (2011 est.) arable land: 23.4% (2011 est.)
permanent crops: 2.3% (2011 est.) permanent pasture: 30.5% (2011 est.) forest: 37.5% (2011 est.)
other: 6.3% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 300 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards: dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to February); sandstorms, dust storms
Current Environment Issues: rapid population growth pressuring the environment; overharvesting of timber, expansion of cattle grazing, and slash-and-burn agriculture have resulted in deforestation, soil exhaustion, and flooding; loss of biodiversity; air pollution; water pollution; overfishing
International Environment Agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
^Back to Top
Nationality: noun: Sierra Leonean(s)
adjective: Sierra Leonean
Ethnic groups: Temne 35.5%, Mende 33.2%, Limba 6.4%, Kono 4.4%, Fullah 3.4%, Loko 2.9%, Koranko 2.8%, Sherbro 2.6%, Mandingo 2.4%, Creole 1.2% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century; also known as Krio), other Sierra Leone 4.7%, other foreign 0.3% (includes refugees from Liberia's civil war, and small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians), unspecified 0.2% (2013 est.)
Languages: English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)
Religions: Muslim 78.6%, Christian 20.8%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.2% (2013 est.)
Population: 6,312,212 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.71% (male 1,314,905 /female 1,317,921)
15-24 years: 18.6% (male 572,274 /female 602,105)
25-54 years: 32.23% (male 973,698 /female 1,060,688)
55-64 years: 3.7% (male 110,176 /female 123,268)
65 years and over: 3.76% (male 97,922 /female 139,255) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 82.6 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 78 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 4.6 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 21.9 (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 19.1 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 19.7 years (2018 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.4% (2018 est.)
Birth rate: 36 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate: 10.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 42.1% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 3.12% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population: 1.136 million FREETOWN (capital) (2018)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2018 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth: 19.2 years (2013 est.) note: median age at first birth among women 25-29
Maternal mortality rate: 1,360 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 66.7 deaths/1,000 live births male: 74.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 58.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 59 years male: 56.4 years
female: 61.7 years (2018 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.69 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 22.5% (2017)
Physicians density: 0.03 physicians/1,000 population (2011)
Drinking water source: improved:
urban: 84.9% of population
rural: 47.8% of population
total: 62.6% of population

urban: 15.1% of population
rural: 52.2% of population
total: 37.4% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 22.8% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 6.9% of population (2015 est.)
total: 13.3% of population (2015 est.)

urban: 77.2% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 93.1% of population (2015 est.)
total: 86.7% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.4% (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 61,000 (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 2,600 (2017 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 8.7% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 18.2% (2013)
Education expenditures: 4.6% of GDP (2017)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic (2015 est.)
total population: 48.1%
male: 58.7%
female: 37.7% (2015 est.) Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 9.4% male: 14.8% female: 6.1% (2014 est.)
^Back to Top
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
conventional short form: Sierra Leone
local long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
local short form: Sierra Leone
etymology: the Portuguese explorer Pedro de SINTRA named the country "Serra Leoa" (Lion Mountains) for the impressive mountains he saw while sailing the West African coast in 1462
Government type: presidential republic
Capital: name: Freetown
geographic coordinates: 8 29 N, 13 14 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: name derived from the fact that the original settlement served as a haven for free-born and freed African Americans, as well as for liberated Africans rescued from slave ships
Administrative divisions: 4 provinces and 1 area*; Eastern, Northern, North Western, Southern, Western*
Independence: 27 April 1961 (from the UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 27 April (1961)
Constitution: history: several previous; latest effective 1 October 1991 amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage of amendments requires at least two-thirds majority vote of Parliament in two successive readings and assent by the president of the republic; passage of amendments affecting fundamental rights and freedoms and many other constitutional sections also requires approval in a referendum with participation of at least one-half of qualified voters and at least two-thirds of votes cast; amended several times, last in 2013 (2017)
Legal system: mixed legal system of English common law and customary law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Julius Maada BIO (since 4 April 2018); Vice President Mohamed Juldeh JALLOH (since 4 April 2018) ; note - the president is both chief of state, head of government, and minister of defense

head of government: President Julius Maada BIO (since 4 April 2018); Vice President Mohamed Juldeh JALLOH (since 4 April 2018)

cabinet: Ministers of State appointed by the president, approved by Parliament; the cabinet is responsible to the president elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 4 April 2018 (next to be in March 2023)

election results: Julius Maada BIO elected president in second round; percent of vote - Julius Maada BIO (SLPP) 51.8%, Samura KAMARA (APC) 48.2%
Legislative branch: description: unicameral Parliament (146 seats; 132 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 14 seats filled in separate elections by non-partisan members of Parliament called "paramount chiefs;" members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 7 March 2018 (next to be held in March 2023)

election results: percent of vote by party - n/a; seats by party - APC 68, SLPP 49, C4C 8, other 7; composition - men 131, women 15, percent of women 10.3%
Judicial branch: highest courts: Superior Court of Judicature (consists of the Supreme Court - at the apex - with the chief justice and 4 other judges, the Court of Appeal with the chief justice and 7 other judges, and the High Court of Justice with the chief justice and 9 other judges); note – the Judicature has jurisdiction in all civil, criminal, and constitutional matters judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice and other judges of the Judicature appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, a 7-member independent body of judges, presidential appointees, and the Commission chairman, and are subject to approval by Parliament; all Judicature judges serve until retirement at age 65

subordinate courts: magistrates' courts; District Appeals Court; local courts
Political parties and leaders: All People's Congress or APC [Ernest Bai KOROMA] Coalition for Change or C4C [Tamba R. SANDY] National Grand Coalition or NGC [Dr. Dennis BRIGHT] Sierra Leone People's Party or SLPP [Dr. Prince HARDING] numerous other parties
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AU, C, ECOWAS, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNISFA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
National symbol(s): lion;
national colors: green, white, blue
National anthem: name: High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free
lyrics/music: Clifford Nelson FYLE/John Joseph AKA

note: adopted 1961
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr WAI (since 4 April 2008)
chancery: 1701 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 939-9261 through 9263
FAX: [1] (202) 483-1793
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Maria E. BREWER (since 20 December 2017)
embassy: Southridge-Hill Station, Freetown
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [232] 99 105 000
FAX: [232] 99 515 355
^Back to Top
Sierra Leone is extremely poor and nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. The country possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, but it is still recovering from a civil war that destroyed most institutions before ending in the early 2000s. In recent years, economic growth has been driven by mining - particularly iron ore. The country’s principal exports are iron ore, diamonds, and rutile, and the economy is vulnerable to fluctuations in international prices. Until 2014, the government had relied on external assistance to support its budget, but it was gradually becoming more independent. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, combined with falling global commodities prices, caused a significant contraction of economic activity in all areas. While the World Health Organization declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in November 2015, low commodity prices in 2015-2016 contributed to the country’s biggest fiscal shortfall since 2001. In 2017, increased iron ore exports, together with the end of the Ebola epidemic, supported a resumption of economic growth. Continued economic growth will depend on rising commodities prices and increased efforts to diversify the sources of growth. Non-mining activities will remain constrained by inadequate infrastructure, such as power and roads, even though power sector projects may provide some additional electricity capacity in the near term. Pervasive corruption and undeveloped human capital will continue to deter foreign investors. Sustained international donor support in the near future will partially offset these fiscal constraints.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $11.55 billion (2017 est.) $11.14 billion (2016 est.) $10.48 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $3.612 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3.7% (2017 est.) 6.3% (2016 est.) -20.5% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,600 (2017 est.) $1,500 (2016 est.) $1,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving: 10% of GDP (2017 est.) 7.9% of GDP (2016 est.) -5.9% of GDP (2015 est.) GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 97.9% (2017 est.) government consumption: 12.1% (2017 est.) investment in fixed capital: 18.1% (2017 est.) investment in inventories: 0.4% (2017 est.) exports of goods and services: 26.8% (2017 est.) imports of goods and services: -55.3% (2017 est.) GDP - composition, by sector of origin: agriculture: 60.7% (2017 est.) industry: 6.5% (2017 est.) services: 32.9% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
Industries: diamond mining; iron ore, rutile and bauxite mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, footwear)
Industrial production growth rate: 15.5% (2017 est.)
Labor force: 2.972 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 61.1%
industry: 5.5%
services: 33.4% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15% (2017 est.) 17.2% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line: 70.2% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 33.6% (2003)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 34 (2011) 62.9 (1989)
Budget: revenues: 562 million (2017 est.)
expenditures: 846.4 million (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 15.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): -7.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt: 63.9% of GDP (2017 est.) 54.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 18.2% (2017 est.) 10.9% (2016 est.)
Current account balance: -$407 million (2017 est.) -$88 million (2016 est.)
Exports: $808.4 million (2017 est.) $670 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities: iron ore, diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
Exports - partners: Cote dIvoire 37.7%, Belgium 20.5%, US 15.7%, China 10.2%, Netherlands 6.1% (2017)
Imports: $1.107 billion (2017 est.) $972.8 million (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
Imports - partners: China 11.5%, US 9.2%, Belgium 8.8%, UAE 7.7%, India 7.4%, Turkey 5.2%, Senegal 5.1%, Netherlands 4.3% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $478 million (31 December 2017 est.) $497.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external: $1.615 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $1.503 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $1.042 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $1.832 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $56.8 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $6.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: n/a
Exchange rates: leones (SLL) per US dollar - 7,396.3 (2017 est.) 6,289.9 (2016 est.) 6,289.9 (2015 est.) 5,080.8 (2014 est.) 4,524.2 (2013 est.)
^Back to Top
Electricity - production: 300 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 279 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 113,300 kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 23% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 51% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 26% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 6,500 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 6,439 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 984,800 Mt (2017 est.)
^Back to Top
Cellular Phones in use: total subscriptions: 6,279,270
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 102 (July 2016 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: telephone service improving with the expansion of the mobile sector; the national microwave radio relay trunk system connects Freetown to Bo and Kenema; mobile-cellular service has grown rapidly from a small base, overcoming the deficiencies of the fixed-line sector; mobile sector high penetration; investments in upgrades to LTE (2018)

domestic: fixed-line less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular 102 per 100 (2018)

international: country code - 232; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2016)
Broadcast media: 1 government-owned TV station; 3 private TV stations; a pay-TV service began operations in late 2007; 1 government-owned national radio station; about two-dozen private radio stations primarily clustered in major cities; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available  (2019)
Internet country code: .sl
Internet users: total: 708,615
percent of population: 11.8% (July 2016 est.)
^Back to Top
Airports: 8 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 1
(2017) over 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 7
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2013)
Heliports: 2 (2013)
Waterways: 800 km (600 km navigable year-round) (2011)
Merchant marine: total 469

by type: bulk carrier 21, container ship 10, general cargo 255, oil tanker 68, other 115 (2018)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Freetown, Pepel, Sherbro Islands
^Back to Top
Military branches: Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF): Army (includes Maritime Wing and Air Wing) (2013)
Military service age and obligation: 18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); women are eligible to serve; no conscription; candidates must be HIV negative (2012)
Military expenditures: 0.81% of GDP (2016) 0.92% of GDP (2015) 0.97% of GDP (2014) 0.64% of GDP (2013) 0.78% of GDP (2012)
^Back to Top
 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: Sierra Leone opposes Guinean troops' continued occupation of Yenga, a small village on the Makona River that serves as a border with Guinea; Guinea's forces came to Yenga in the mid-1990s to help the Sierra Leonean military to suppress rebels and to secure their common border but have remained there even after both countries signed a 2005 agreement acknowledging that Yenga belonged to Sierra Leone; in 2012, the two sides signed a declaration to demilitarize the area
^Back to Top

« Previous Country | Next Country »   Back to Flag Counter Overview

   Source: CIA - The World Factbook

Flag Counter