About Sierra Leone

About Sierra Leone

Background: 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 into 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, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country's stability. The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 and 2012 national elections, and deployed over 850 peacekeepers to the African Union Mission in Somalia. As of January 2014, Sierra Leone also fielded 122 staff for five UN peacekeeping missions. 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 furthering development - including recovering from the Ebola epidemic - creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption.
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia Geographic coordinates: 8 30 N, 11 30 W Map references: Africa Area: total: 71,740 sq km land: 71,620 sq km water: 120 sq km country comparison to the world: 119 Area - comparative: 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 contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 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 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: agricultural land: 56.2% arable land 23.4%; permanent crops 2.3%; permanent pasture 30.5% forest: 37.5% other: 6.3% (2011 est.) Irrigated land: 293.6 sq km (2003) Total renewable water resources: 160 cu km (2011) Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.21 cu km/yr (52%/26%/22%) per capita: 38.74 cu m/yr (2005) 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
Nationality: 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) 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 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30% Population: 5,879,098 (July 2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 112 Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.93% (male 1,228,380/female 1,236,475) 15-24 years: 18.67% (male 532,738/female 564,828) 25-54 years: 31.85% (male 898,538/female 973,908) 55-64 years: 3.82% (male 102,915/female 121,864) 65 years and over: 3.73% (male 92,777/female 126,675) (2015 est.) Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 81.9% youth dependency ratio: 77.1% elderly dependency ratio: 4.9% potential support ratio: 20.6% (2015 est.) Median age: total: 19 years male: 18.4 years female: 19.6 years (2015 est.) Population growth rate: 2.35% (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 32 Birth rate: 37.03 births/1,000 population (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 14 Death rate: 10.81 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 35 Net migration rate: -2.77 migrant(s)/1,000 population note: refugees currently in surrounding countries are slowly returning (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 178 Urbanization: urban population: 39.9% of total population (2015) rate of urbanization: 2.75% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.) Major urban areas - population: FREETOWN (capital) 1.007 million (2015) Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female 0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female 15-24 years: 0.94 male(s)/female 25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female 55-64 years: 0.85 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2015 est.) Maternal mortality rate: 1,360 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 5 Infant mortality rate: total: 71.68 deaths/1,000 live births male: 80.14 deaths/1,000 live births female: 62.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 11 Life expectancy at birth: total population: 57.79 years male: 55.23 years female: 60.42 years (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 204 Total fertility rate: 4.8 children born/woman (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 19 Contraceptive prevalence rate: 16.6% (2013) Health expenditures: 11.8% of GDP (2013) country comparison to the world: 5 Physicians density: 0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2010) Hospital bed density: 0.4 beds/1,000 population (2006) Drinking water source: improved: urban: 84.9% of population rural: 47.8% of population total: 62.6% of population unimproved: 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 rural: 6.9% of population total: 13.3% of population unimproved: urban: 77.2% of population rural: 93.1% of population total: 86.7% of population (2015 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.4% (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 36 HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 54,000 (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 54 HIV/AIDS - deaths: 2,700 (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 48 Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever water contact disease: schistosomiasis animal contact disease: rabies aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2013) Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 6.6% (2014) country comparison to the world: 144 Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 18.1% (2013) country comparison to the world: 34 Education expenditures: 2.9% of GDP (2012) country comparison to the world: 141 Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic total population: 48.1% male: 58.7% female: 37.7% (2015 est.) Child labor - children ages 5-14: total number: 573,287 percentage: 48% (2005 est.)
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 Capital: name: Freetown geographic coordinates: 8 29 N, 13 14 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* Independence: 27 April 1961 (from the UK) National holiday: Independence Day, 27 April (1961) Constitution: several previous; latest in effect 1 October 1991; amended several times, last in 2013 (2015) 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 Citizenship: birthright citizenship: dual citizenship recognized: yes residency requirement for naturalization: Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal Executive branch: chief of state: President Ernest Bai KOROMA (since 17 September 2007); note - the president is both 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, 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 17 November 2012 (next to be held in 2017) election results: Ernest Bai KOROMA reelected president; percent of vote - Ernest Bai KOROMA (APC) 58.7%, Julius Maada BIO (SLPP) 37.4%, other 3.9% Legislative branch: description: unicameral Parliament (124 seats; 112 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 12 seats filled in separate elections by non-partisan members of Parliament called "paramount chiefs;" members serve 5-year terms) elections: last held on 17 November 2012 (next to be held in 2017) election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - APC 69, SLPP 43 Judicial branch: highest court(s): 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 subject to the approval of Parliament; all Judicature judges appointed 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] Sierra Leone People's Party or SLPP [Somano KAPEN] numerous other parties Political pressure groups and leaders: other: student unions; trade unions 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 Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Bockari Kortu STEVENS (since 28 March 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 John HOOVER (since 4 November 4 December 2014)) embassy: Southridge-Hill Station mailing address: use embassy street address telephone: [232] (76) 515 000 or (76) 515 000 FAX: [232] (76) 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 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
Economy - overview: 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. In 2014, rapid spread of Ebolavirus caused a contraction of economic activity in several areas, including transportation, health, and industrial production. Iron ore production dropped, due to low global prices and high costs, driven by the epidemic. A long-term shutdown of the industry would badly hurt the economy because it supports thousands of jobs and creates about 20% of GDP. Until 2014, the government had relied on external assistance to support its budget, but it was gradually becoming more independent. The epidemic has disrupted economic activity, deterred private investment, and forced the government to increase expenditures on health care, straining the budget and restricting other public investment projects. A rise in international donor support will partially offset these fiscal constraints. GDP (purchasing power parity): $12.8 billion (2014 est.) $11.95 billion (2013 est.) $9.952 billion (2012 est.) note: data are in 2014 US dollars country comparison to the world: 155 GDP (official exchange rate): $4.815 billion (2014 est.) GDP - real growth rate: 7.1% (2014 est.) 20.1% (2013 est.) 15.2% (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 20 GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,100 (2014 est.) $1,900 (2013 est.) $1,600 (2012 est.) note: data are in 2014 US dollars country comparison to the world: 202 Gross national saving: 1.4% of GDP (2014 est.) 2.3% of GDP (2013 est.) 4.6% of GDP (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 172 GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 75.8% government consumption: 10.5% investment in fixed capital: 13.5% investment in inventories: 0.3% exports of goods and services: 41.3% imports of goods and services: -41.4% (2014 est.) GDP - composition, by sector of origin: agriculture: 61.6% industry: 6.3% services: 32.2% (2014 est.) Agriculture - products: rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish Industries: diamond mining; iron ore, rutile and bauxite mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, cigarettes, footwear); petroleum refining, small commercial ship repair Industrial production growth rate: -2.1% (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 183 Labor force: 2.451 million (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 114 Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Unemployment rate: NA% 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: 62.9 (1989) country comparison to the world: 3 Budget: revenues: $688.5 million expenditures: $853.7 million (2014 est.) Taxes and other revenues: 14.3% of GDP (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 199 Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): -3.4% of GDP (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 136 Public debt: 39.3% of GDP (2014 est.) 34.2% of GDP (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 108 Fiscal year: calendar year Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.3% (2014 est.) 9.8% (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 204 Central bank discount rate: NA% Commercial bank prime lending rate: 19.41% (31 December 2014 est.) 20.56% (31 December 2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 15 Stock of narrow money: $431.9 million (31 December 2014 est.) $370.6 million (31 December 2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 166 Stock of broad money: $960.1 million (31 December 2014 est.) $857.3 million (31 December 2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 172 Stock of domestic credit: $516 million (31 December 2014 est.) $481.2 million (31 December 2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 167 Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA Current account balance: -$466 million (2014 est.) -$512 million (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 103 Exports: $2.086 billion (2014 est.) $2.004 billion (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 146 Exports - commodities: diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish Exports - partners: China 80%, Belgium 8.8% (2014) Imports: $1.829 billion (2014 est.) $2.007 billion (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 167 Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals Imports - partners: China 13.2%, US 7.1%, India 6.8%, UK 6.6%, Belgium 6.1%, Netherlands 4.7%, South Africa 4.6% (2014) Debt - external: $1.368 billion (31 December 2014 est.) $1.395 billion (31 December 2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 154 Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $1.012 billion (31 December 2014 est.) $925.5 million (31 December 2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 111 Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $NA (31 December 2014 est.) $NA (31 December 2013 est.) Exchange rates: leones (SLL) per US dollar - 4,524.2 (2014 est.) 4,524.2 (2013 est.) 4,344 (2012 est.) 4,336.1 (2011 est.) 3,978.1 (2010 est.)
Electricity - production: 145 million kWh (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 194 Electricity - consumption: 134.9 million kWh (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 195 Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 195 Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 201 Electricity - installed generating capacity: 81,000 kW (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 179 Electricity - from fossil fuels: 33.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 175 Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 180 Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 66.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 29 Electricity - from other renewable sources: 0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 127 Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 190 Crude oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 189 Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 125 Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 189 Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 131 Refined petroleum products - consumption: 4,400 bbl/day (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 175 Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 131 Refined petroleum products - imports: 4,428 bbl/day (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 166 Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 127 Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 193 Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 179 Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 133 Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 193 Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 1.311 million Mt (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 163
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 16,500 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 192 Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 4.8 million subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 83 (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 120 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) (2009) Broadcast media: 1 government-owned TV station; 1 private TV station began operating in 2005; 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 (2007) Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 9, shortwave 1 (2001) Television broadcast stations: 2 (1999) Internet country code: .sl Internet users: total: 85,600 percent of population: 1.5% (2014 est.) country comparison to the world: 173
Airports: 8 (2013) country comparison to the world: 164 Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047 m: 1 (2013) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 7 914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2013) Heliports: 2 (2013) Roadways: total: 11,300 km paved: 904 km unpaved: 10,396 km (2002) country comparison to the world: 131 Waterways: 800 km (600 km navigable year round) (2011) country comparison to the world: 71 Merchant marine: total: 215 by type: bulk carrier 22, cargo 120, carrier 2, chemical tanker 19, container 6, liquefied gas 3, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 28, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 4, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 1 foreign-owned: 98 (Bangladesh 1, China 19, Cyprus 2, Egypt 3, Estonia 2, Hong Kong 7, Japan 4, Lebanon 2, North Korea 2, Romania 2, Russia 7, Singapore 9, Syria 13, Taiwan 7, Turkey 9, UAE 1, UK 1, Ukraine 5, Yemen 2) (2010) country comparison to the world: 34 Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Freetown, Pepel, Sherbro Islands
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) 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: 0.72% of GDP (2012) 0.8% of GDP (2011) 0.72% of GDP (2010)
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