Country Information Database


Sierra Leone Country Information

Sierra Leone
Flag of Sierra Leone
Map of Sierra Leone
Introduction Sierra Leone
Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 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, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country's stability. The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 presidential election, but still look to the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) - a civilian UN mission - to support efforts to consolidate peace. The new government's priorities include furthering development, creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption.
Geography Sierra Leone
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia
Geographic coordinates:
8 30 N, 11 30 W
Map references:
total: 71,740 sq km
land: 71,620 sq km
water: 120 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries:
total: 958 km
border countries: Guinea 652 km, Liberia 306 km
402 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)
coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Loma Mansa (Bintimani) 1,948 m
Natural resources:
diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite
Land use:
arable land: 7.95%
permanent crops: 1.05%
other: 91% (2005)
Irrigated land:
300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
160 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.38 cu km/yr (5%/3%/92%)
per capita: 69 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to February); sandstorms, dust storms
Environment - current issues:
rapid population growth pressuring the environment; overharvesting of timber, expansion of cattle grazing, and slash-and-burn agriculture have resulted in deforestation and soil exhaustion; civil war depleted natural resources; overfishing
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
rainfall along the coast can reach 495 cm (195 inches) a year, making it one of the wettest places along coastal, western Africa
People Sierra Leone
6,294,774 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 44.6% (male 1,377,981/female 1,429,993)
15-64 years: 52.2% (male 1,573,990/female 1,708,840)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 94,359/female 109,611) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 17.5 years
male: 17.2 years
female: 17.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.282% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
45.08 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
22.26 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: refugees currently in surrounding countries are slowly returning (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 156.48 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 173.59 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 138.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 40.93 years
male: 38.64 years
female: 43.28 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
5.95 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
7% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
170,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
11,000 (2001 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2008)
noun: Sierra Leonean(s)
adjective: Sierra Leonean
Ethnic groups:
20 African ethnic groups 90% (Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other 30%), Creole (Krio) 10% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century), refugees from Liberia's recent civil war, small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians
Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%
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%)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic
total population: 35.1%
male: 46.9%
female: 24.4% (2004 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 7 years
male: 8 years
female: 6 years (2001)
Education expenditures:
3.8% of GDP (2005)
Government Sierra Leone
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
Government type:
constitutional democracy
name: Freetown
geographic coordinates: 8 30 N, 13 15 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
3 provinces and 1 area*; Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western*
27 April 1961 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 27 April (1961)
1 October 1991; subsequently amended several times
Legal system:
based on English law and customary laws indigenous to local tribes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ernest Bai KOROMA (since 17 September 2007); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ernest Bai KOROMA (since 17 September 2007)
cabinet: Ministers of State appointed by the president with the approval of the House of Representatives; the cabinet is responsible to the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 11 August 2007 and 8 September 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: second round results; percent of vote - Ernest Bai KOROMA 54.6%, Solomon BEREWA 45.4%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament (124 seats; 112 members elected by popular vote, 12 filled by paramount chiefs elected in separate elections; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 11 August 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - APC 59, SLPP 43, PMDC 10
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Appeals Court; High Court
Political parties and leaders:
All People's Congress or APC [Ernest Bai KOROMA]; Peace and Liberation Party or PLP [Darlington MORRISON]; People's Movement for Democratic Change or PMDC [Charles MARGAI]; Sierra Leone People's Party or SLPP [Solomon BEREWA]; numerous others
Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: student unions; trade unions
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Bockari Kortu STEVENS
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 Thomas N. HULL
embassy: Corner of Walpole and Siaka Stevens Streets, Freetown
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [232] (22) 515 000 or [232] (76) 515 000
FAX: [232] (22) 225471
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of light green (top), white, and light blue
Economy Sierra Leone
Economy - overview:
Sierra Leone is an extremely poor nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. While it possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, its physical and social infrastructure is not well developed, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. Alluvial diamond mining remains the major source of hard currency earnings accounting for nearly half of Sierra Leone's exports. The fate of the economy depends upon the maintenance of domestic peace and the continued receipt of substantial aid from abroad, which is essential to offset the severe trade imbalance and supplement government revenues. The IMF has completed a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program that helped stabilize economic growth and reduce inflation. A recent increase in political stability has led to a revival of economic activity such as the rehabilitation of bauxite and rutile mining.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$3.991 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.664 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
7% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$600 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 49%
industry: 31%
services: 21% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
1.369 million (1981 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
Population below poverty line:
70.2% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.5%
highest 10%: 43.6% (1989)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
62.9 (1989)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
11.7% (2007 est.)
revenues: $96 million
expenditures: $351 million (2000 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
diamond mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, cigarettes, footwear); petroleum refining, small commercial ship repair
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
245 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
227.9 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
0.7008 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
8,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports:
431.1 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
8,864 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
-$63 million (2007 est.)
$216 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports - commodities:
diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
Exports - partners:
Belgium 49.5%, US 20.6%, Netherlands 4.6%, Canada 4% (2007)
$560 million f.o.b. (2006)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Cote d'Ivoire 9.5%, China 9.5%, US 9%, Brazil 7%, UK 5.8%, Netherlands 4.8%, India 4.4% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$343.4 million (2005 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.61 billion (2003 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Currency (code):
leone (SLL)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
leones per US dollar - NA (2007), 2,961.7 (2006), 2,889.6 (2005), 2,701.3 (2004), 2,347.9 (2003)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Sierra Leone
Telephones - main lines in use:
24,000 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
776,000 (2007)
Telephone system:
general assessment: marginal telephone service
domestic: the national microwave radio relay trunk system connects Freetown to Bo and Kenema
international: country code - 232; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2000)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 9, shortwave 1 (2001)
1.12 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (1999)
53,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
46 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2001)
Internet users:
13,000 (2007)
Transportation Sierra Leone
10 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
2 (2007)
total: 11,300 km
paved: 904 km
unpaved: 10,396 km (2002)
800 km (600 km year round) (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 156 ships (1000 GRT or over) 404,131 GRT/531,442 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 122, carrier 1, chemical tanker 6, container 5, liquefied gas 2, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 9, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 73 (China 11, Egypt 2, Greece 2, Nigeria 1, Romania 2, Russia 11, Syria 13, Taiwan 1, Turkey 12, UAE 8, Ukraine 10) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Freetown, Pepel, Sherbro Islands
Military Sierra Leone
Military branches:
Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF): Army (includes Navy (Maritime Wing), Air Wing) (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,315,561 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 671,418 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 70,068
female: 73,930 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
2.3% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Sierra Leone
Disputes - international:
as domestic fighting among disparate ethnic groups, rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone gradually abate, the number of refugees in border areas has begun to slowly dwindle; UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) has maintained over 4,000 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone since 1999; Sierra Leone considers excessive Guinea's definition of the flood plain limits to define the left bank boundary of the Makona and Moa rivers and protests Guinea's continued occupation of these lands including the hamlet of Yenga occupied since 1998
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 27,311 (Liberia) (2007)

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008 Access Time: Tue, 26 Sep 2023 02:02:12 +0000