Africa :: Sierra Leone
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Sierra Leone
Location 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
8 30 N, 11 30 W
total: 71,740 sq km
country comparison to the world: 118
land: 71,620 sq km
water: 120 sq km
slightly smaller than South Carolina
total: 958 km
border countries: Guinea 652 km, Liberia 306 km
402 km
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
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Loma Mansa (Bintimani) 1,948 m
diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite
arable land: 7.95%
permanent crops: 1.05%
other: 91% (2005)
300 sq km (2003)
160 cu km (1987)
total: 0.38 cu km/yr (5%/3%/92%)
per capita: 69 cu m/yr (2000)
dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to February); sandstorms, dust storms
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
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
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
6,440,053 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
0-14 years: 44.5% (male 1,407,226/female 1,460,366)
15-64 years: 52.2% (male 1,613,554/female 1,750,250)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 95,533/female 113,124) (2009 est.)
total: 17.5 years
male: 17.2 years
female: 17.8 years (2009 est.)
2.282% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
44.73 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
21.91 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
country comparison to the world: 80
note: refugees currently in surrounding countries are slowly returning (2009 est.)
urban population: 38% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 154.43 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 2
male: 171.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 136.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 41.24 years
country comparison to the world: 219
male: 38.92 years
female: 43.64 years (2009 est.)
5.88 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
1.7% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
55,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
3,300 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
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)
noun: Sierra Leonean(s)
adjective: Sierra Leonean
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.)
total: 7 years
male: 8 years
female: 6 years (2001)
3.8% of GDP (2005)
country comparison to the world: 116
Government ::Sierra Leone
conventional long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
conventional short form: Sierra Leone
local long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
local short form: Sierra Leone
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)
3 provinces and 1 area*; Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western*
27 April 1961 (from the UK)
Independence Day, 27 April (1961)
1 October 1991; amended several times
based on English law and customary laws indigenous to local tribes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
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%
unicameral Parliament (124 seats; 112 members elected by popular vote, 12 filled by paramount chiefs elected in separate elections; 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
Supreme Court; Appeals Court; High Court
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
other: student unions; trade unions
ACP, AfDB, AU, C, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIT, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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
chief of mission: Ambassador June Carter PERRY
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
three equal horizontal bands of light green (top), white, and light blue
Economy ::Sierra Leone
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.
$4.285 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
$4.062 billion (2007 est.)
$3.818 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$1.955 billion (2008 est.)
5.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
6.4% (2007 est.)
7.4% (2006 est.)
$700 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 222
$700 (2007 est.)
$600 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 49%
industry: 31%
services: 21% (2005 est.)
2.207 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
NA%
70.2% (2004)
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 33.6% (2003)
62.9 (1989)
country comparison to the world: 5
revenues: $96 million
expenditures: $351 million (2000 est.)
11.7% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
NA% (31 December 2008)
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 12
25% (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 156
$184.6 million (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 155
$177.7 million (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 166
$162.9 million (31 December 2007)
$NA
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
NA%
80 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
74.4 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 kWh (2008 est.)
2.99 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
9,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
502.4 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
8,316 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 116
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
$-63 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
$216 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 179
diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
Belgium 41%, US 23.2%, France 5.7%, Netherlands 4.3% (2008)
$560 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 185
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
China 10.5%, Cote d'Ivoire 8.9%, US 7.9%, Belgium 6.7%, UK 6.7%, Thailand 5.2%, India 4.2% (2008)
$1.61 billion (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140
leones (SLL) per US dollar - NA (2007), 2,961.7 (2006), 2,889.6 (2005), 2,701.3 (2004), 2,347.9 (2003)
Communications ::Sierra Leone
31,500 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 176
1.009 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 144
general assessment: marginal telephone service
domestic: the national microwave radio relay trunk system connects Freetown to Bo and Kenema; mobile-cellular service is growing rapidly from a small base
international: country code - 232; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
AM 1, FM 9, shortwave 1 (2001)
2 (1999)
.sl
273 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 180
13,900 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 196
Transportation ::Sierra Leone
9 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 158
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2009)
total: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
2 (2009)
total: 11,300 km
country comparison to the world: 134
paved: 904 km
unpaved: 10,396 km (2002)
800 km (600 km year round) (2007)
country comparison to the world: 73
total: 182
country comparison to the world: 37
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 143, carrier 2, chemical tanker 3, container 6, liquefied gas 2, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 6, petroleum tanker 10, roll on/roll off 3, specialized tanker 2
foreign-owned: 95 (Belgium 1, China 15, Egypt 3, Greece 1, Hong Kong 1, Lebanon 1, Nigeria 1, Panama 1, Romania 3, Russia 11, Syria 18, Taiwan 1, Turkey 15, Ukraine 10, UAE 8, UK 2, US 1, Yemen 2) (2008)
Freetown, Pepel, Sherbro Islands
Military ::Sierra Leone
Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF): Army (includes Maritime Wing and Air Wing) (2008)
17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); no conscription (2008)
males age 16-49: 1,315,561 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 692,469
females age 16-49: 762,239 (2009 est.)
male: 71,524
female: 75,491 (2009 est.)
2.3% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 73
Transnational Issues ::Sierra Leone
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; 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 (country of origin): 27,311 (Liberia) (2007)