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Countries > Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Flag

Languages   6 languages are spoken in Sierra Leone. We have 80 products available for 5 of those languages.

Capital: Freetown
Population: 4,509,000
Click to Listen Play the National Anthem
Sierra Leone Map


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

Geographic coordinates: 8 30 N, 11 30 W

Map references: Africa

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

Coastline: 402 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm
continental shelf : 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

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

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%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 31%
forests and woodland: 28%
other : 33% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 290 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (November to May); 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 depleting natural resources; overfishing

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Desertification, Environmental Modification


Population: 5,614,743 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44.7% (male 1,230,530; female 1,280,084)
15-64 years:52.1% (male 1,397,070; female 1,528,986)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 87,256; female 90,817) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.21% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 44.58 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 17.75 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate:6.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
total population :0.94 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 144.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 45.96 years
male: 43.01 years
female: 49.01 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate:5.94 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun: Sierra Leonean(s)
adjective: Sierra Leonean

Ethnic groups: 20 native African tribes 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

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

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%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write in English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic
total population: 31.4%
male: 45.4%
female: 18.2% (1995 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form : Republic of Sierra Leone
conventional short form: Sierra Leone

Data code: SL

Government type: constitutional democracy

National capital: Freetown

Administrative divisions: 3 provinces and 1 area*; Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western*

Independence: 27 April 1961 (from UK)

National holiday: Republic Day, 27 April (1961)

Constitution: 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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state : President Ahmad Tejan KABBAH (inaugurated 29 March 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ahmad Tejan KABBAH (inaugurated 29 March 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
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; election last held 14 May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2007); note - president's tenure of office is limited to two five-year terms
election results : Ahmad Tejan KABBAH reelected president; percent of vote - Ahmad Tejan KABBAH (SLPP) 70.6%, Ernest KOROMA 22.4%

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (124 seats - 112 elected by popular vote, 12 filled by paramount chiefs elected in separate elections; members serve five-year terms)
elections : last held 14 May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - SLPP 70.06%, APC 22.35%, PLP 3%, others 4.59%; seats by party - SLPP 83, APC 27, PLP 2

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: All People's Congress or APC [Alhaji Sat KOROMA, interim chairman]; Citizens United for Peace and Progress or CUPP [Alfred Musa CONTEH, interim chairman]; Coalition for Progress Party or CPP [Jeridine WILLIAM-SARHO, interim leader]; Democratic Center Party or DCP [Adu Aiah KOROMA]; Democratic Labor Party or DLP [George E. L. PALMER]; Democratic Party or DP [Henry BALO, acting chairman]; National Alliance Democratic Party or NADP [Mohamed Yahya SILLAH, chairman]; National Democratic Alliance or NDA [Amadu M. B. JALLOH]; National People's Party or NPP [Andrew TURAY]; National Republican Party or NRP [Stephen Sahr MAMBU]; National Unity Movement or NUM [Sam LEIGH, interim chairman]; National Unity Party or NUP [John BENJAMINE, interim leader]; Peace and Liberation Party or PLP [Darlington MORRISON, interim chairman]; People's Democratic Alliance or PDA [Cpl. (Ret.) Abdul Rahman KAMARA, interim chairman]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Osman KAMARA]; People's National Convention or PNC [Edward John KARGBO]; People's Progressive Party or PPP [Abass Chernok BUNDU, chairman]; Revolutionary United Front Party or RUFP [Foday Saybana SANKOH, chairman]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Andrew Victor LUNGAY]; Sierra Leone People's Party or SLPP [Ahmad Tejan KABBAH, chairman]; United National People's Party or UNPP [John KAREFA-SMART in exile, Raymond KAMARA, acting leader]; Young People's Party or YPP [Cornelius DEVEAUS, interim chairman]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John Ernest LEIGH
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 Peter Russell CHAVEAS
embassy: Corner of Walpole and Siaka Stevens Streets, Freetown
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [232] (22) 226481 through 226485
FAX : [232] (22) 225471

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of light green (top), white, and light blue


Economy - overview: Sierra Leone has substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources. However, the economic and social infrastructure is not well developed, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development. Agriculture employs about two-thirds of the working population, with subsistence agriculture dominating the sector. Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. The mining of diamonds, bauxite, and rutile is the major source of hard currency. The government has worked hard to meet its IMF- and World Bank-mandated stabilization targets, holding down fiscal deficits and retiring much of its domestic debt, but at a steep cost in terms of forgone capital investments and social spending. Moreover, the economic infrastructure has nearly collapsed due to neglect and war-related disruptions in the mining and agricultural export sectors. The continuing civil war in Liberia has led to a large influx of refugees, who place additional burdens on Sierra Leone's fragile economy.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.7 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - 3% (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
services:30% (2000)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 15% (2000 est.)

Labor force:
total: 1.369 million (1981 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 65%, industry 19%, services 16% (1981 est.)
note: only about 65,000 wage earners (1985)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues :$96 million
expenditures: $351 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries: mining (diamonds, bauxite, rutile); small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, cigarettes, footwear); petroleum refining

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - capacity: 119,000 kW (1991)

Electricity - production: 245 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 227.85 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish

total value: $65 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
commodities: rutile, diamonds, bauxite, coffee, cocoa, fish
partners: NZ 33.7%, Belgium 32.6%, US 7.4%, France 5.1% (2000)

total value: $145 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants
partners: Czech Republic 26.7%, UK 26.6%, US 5.1%, Netherlands 4.6% (2000)

Debt - external: $1.3 billion (2000)

Economic aid:
recipient:$103 million (2001 est.)

Currency: 1 leone (SLL) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: leones per US dollar - 2,212.47 (January 2002), 1,985.89 (2001), 2,092.13 (2000), 1,804.20 (1999), 1,563.62 (1998), 981.48 (1997)

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June


Telephones: 25,000 (2001)

Telephone system: marginal telephone and telegraph service
domestic: national microwave radio relay trunk system, made unserviceable by military activities, is now operating from Freetown to Bo and Kenema (April 2001)
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 9, shortwave 1 (1999)

Radios: 1.12 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 2 (1999)

Televisions: 53,000 (1997)


total : 84 km used on a limited basis because the mine at Marampa is closed
narrow gauge: 84 km 1.067-m gauge

total: 11,700 km
paved: 936 km
unpaved : 10,764 km (2002)

Waterways: 800 km; 600 km navigable year round

Ports and harbors: Bonthe, Freetown, Pepel

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 10 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m:1 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total : 9
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 2 (2001)


Military branches: Army, Navy, Police, Security Forces

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49 : 1,203,682 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 583,946 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:$10.3 million (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:1.5% (FY01)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: ongoing conflict in Sierra Leone has engendered refugee movements into neighboring Guinea and Liberia

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