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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 a 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.



 Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia

Geographic Coordinates:

 8 30 N, 11 30 W


 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 (Rank: 118)

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 (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 160 cu km (1987)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 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

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 Noun: Sierra Leonean(s)
Adjective: Sierra Leonean

Ethnic Groups:

 Temne 35%, Mende 31%, Limba 8%, Kono 5%, Kriole 2% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century; also known as Krio), Mandingo 2%, Loko 2%, other 15% (includes refugees from Liberia's recent civil war, and small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians) (2008 census)


 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%)


 Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%


 5,363,669 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 41.8% (male 1,113,528/female 1,130,112)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 1,401,907/female 1,522,335)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 86,614/female 109,173) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 19.1 years
Male: 18.6 years
Female: 19.5 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 2.249% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 38.46 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 11.73 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -4.25 migrant(s)/1,000 population

Note: refugees currently in surrounding countries are slowly returning (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 38% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 3.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 FREETOWN (capital) 875,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 970 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 78.38 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 87.2 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 69.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 56.13 years
Male: 53.69 years
Female: 58.65 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 4.94 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 13.1% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.016 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital Bed Density:

 0.4 beds/1,000 population (2006)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 86% of population
Rural: 26% of population
Total: 49% of population
Urban: 14% of population
Rural: 74% of population
Total: 51% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 24% of population
Rural: 6% of population
Total: 13% of population
Urban: 76% of population
Rural: 94% of population
Total: 87% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 1.6% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 49,000 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 2,800 (2009 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 (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 21.3% (2008)

Education Expenditures:

 4.3% of GDP (2009)


 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.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 12 years
Male: 13 years
Female: 11 years (2007)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 5.2%
Male: 7.3%
Female: 3.5% (2004)

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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 the UK)

National Holiday:

 Independence Day, 27 April (1961)


 1 October 1991; amended several times

Legal System:

 Mixed legal system of English common law and customary law

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt 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 on 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; members 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 [John BENJAMIN]; 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 Michael S. OWEN
Embassy: Southridge-Hill Station, Freetown
Mailing address: use embassy street address
Telephone: [232] (22) 515 000 or (76) 515 000
FAX: [232] (22) 515 355

Flag Description:

 Three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and blue; green symbolizes agriculture, mountains, and natural resources, white represents unity and justice, and blue the sea and the natural harbor in Freetown

National Symbols:


National Anthem:

 Name: "High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free"
Lyrics/music: Clifford Nelson FYLE/John Joseph AKA

Note: adopted 1961

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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 has yet to recover from the civil war, 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 and in 2010 approved a new program worth $45 million over three years. Political stability has led to a revival of economic activity such as the rehabilitation of bauxite and rutile mining, which are set to benefit from planned tax incentives. A number of offshore oil discoveries were announced in 2009 and 2010. The development on these reserves, which could be significant, is still several years away.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $4.72 billion (2010 est.)
$4.498 billion (2009 est.)
$4.358 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $1.905 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 5% (2010 est.)
3.2% (2009 est.)
5.5% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $900 (2010 est.)
$900 (2009 est.)
$900 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 51.3%
Industry: 22%
Services: 26.7% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 2.207 million (2007 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: NA%
Industry: NA%
Services: NA%

Unemployment Rate:


Population Below Poverty Line:

 70.2% (2004)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 2.6%
Highest 10%: 33.6% (2003)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 62.9 (1989)

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons:

 Refugees (country of origin): 27,311 (Liberia) (2007)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 15.4% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $389.7 million
Expenditures: $527.9 million (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 20.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -7.3% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 16.6% (2010 est.)
9.3% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:


Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 21.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
22.167% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $219.1 million (31 December 2008)
$184.6 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $215.2 million (31 December 2008)
$177.7 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $249.7 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$209.4 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $532.8 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$437 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $333.2 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$178.7 million (31 December 2009 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:

 58 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 100%
Hydro: 0%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 53.94 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 25 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 9,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 499.5 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 4,945 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$277.8 million (2010 est.)
-$291 million (2009 est.)


 $362.9 million (2010 est.)
$270.4 million (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish

Exports - Partners:

 Belgium 29.2%, Romania 15.3%, US 9%, Netherlands 7.3%, Cote dIvoire 5.7%, UK 4.1% (2010)


 $735.9 million (2010 est.)
$511.9 million (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals

Imports - Partners:

 South Africa 14.7%, China 10.7%, Malaysia 6.7%, US 6.6%, UK 6.4%, Cote dIvoire 5.7%, India 4.8% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $409 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$405 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $1.61 billion (2003 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Sierra Leone Leone to Any Currency

Leones (SLL) per US dollar -
NA (2007)
2,961.7 (2006)
2,889.6 (2005)
2,701.3 (2004)
2,347.9 (2003)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 14,000 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 2 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: marginal telephone service with poor infrastructure

Domestic: the national microwave radio relay trunk system connects Freetown to Bo and Kenema; while mobile-cellular service is growing rapidly from a small base, service area coverage remains limited

International: country code - 232; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)

Broadcast Media:

 1 government-owned TV station; 1 private TV station began operating in 2005; a pay-per-view TV service began operations in late 2007; 1 government-owned national radio broadcast station; about two dozen private radio stations primarily clustered in major cities; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 1, FM 9, shortwave 1 (2001)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 2 (1999)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 281 (2010)

Internet Users:

 14,900 (2009)

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 9 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 1
Over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 7
Under 914 m: 1 (2010)


 2 (2010)


 Total: 11,300 km
Paved: 904 km
Unpaved: 10,396 km (2002)


 800 km (600 km navigable year round) (2009)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 189
By type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 131, carrier 1, chemical tanker 12, container 3, liquefied gas 3, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 6, petroleum tanker 20, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 3, vehicle carrier 1
Foreign-owned: 91 (Bangladesh 1, China 12, Cyprus 1, Egypt 2, Estonia 1, Hong Kong 4, Japan 3, Malaysia 1, North Korea 1, Romania 4, Russia 6, Singapore 5, Syria 20, Taiwan 1, Turkey 14, UAE 6, UK 1, Ukraine 5, US 1, Yemen 2) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Freetown, Pepel, Sherbro Islands

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Military Branches:

 Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF): Army (includes Maritime Wing and Air Wing) (2010)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 17 years 6 months of age for male and female voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); no conscription; candidates must be HIV negative (2009)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 1,183,093 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 731,898
Females age 16-49: 838,032 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 54,212
Female: 57,154 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 2.3% of GDP (2006)

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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 abates, the number of refugees in border areas has begun to slowly dwindle; 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

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Last Updated: December 2011

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