Facts about Sierra Leone

World Facts Index

Sierra LeoneDemocracy 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 of Sierra Leone

Location:
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia
Coordinates:
8 30 N, 11 30 W
Area:
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:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM
exclusive economic zone: 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
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 depleting natural resources; overfishing
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

Population of Sierra Leone

Population:
6,294,774 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 44.8% (male 1,321,563/female 1,370,721)
15-64 years: 52% (male 1,494,502/female 1,625,733)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 90,958/female 101,773)
Median age:
17.4 years
Growth rate:
2.3%
Infant mortality:
160.39 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 40.22 years
male: 38.05 years
female: 42.46 years
Fertility rate:
6.08 children born/woman
Nationality:
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%)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic
total population: 29.6%
male: 39.8%
female: 20.5%

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
Government type:
constitutional democracy
Capital:
Freetown
Administrative divisions:
3 provinces and 1 area*; Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western*
Independence:
27 April 1961 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence 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 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).
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)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Appeals Court; High Court

Economy

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:
$3.991 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
6.3%
GDP per capita:
$800
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 49%
industry: 31%
services: 21% 
Budget:
revenues: $96 million
expenditures: $351 million 
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
Industries:
mining (diamonds); small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, cigarettes, footwear); petroleum refining
Agriculture:
rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
Exports:
diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
Export partners:
Belgium 64.2%, Germany 14.2%, US 4.6% 
Imports:
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
Import partners:
Germany 19.5%, Cote d'Ivoire 11.5%, US 7%, UK 6.9%, China 5.7%, Netherlands 5.3%, South Africa 4.4% 
Currency:
leone (SLL)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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