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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Sierra Leone
Flag of Sierra Leone
Map of Sierra Leone
Introduction Sierra Leone
Since 1991, civil war between the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (well over one-third of the population) many of whom are now refugees in neighboring countries. After several setbacks, the end to the eleven-year conflict in Sierra Leone may finally be near at hand. With the support of the UN peacekeeping force and contributions from the World Bank and international community, demobilization and disarmament of the RUF and Civil Defense Forces (CDF) combatants has been completed. Reestablishment of government authority throughout the country is slowly proceeding and national elections took place in May 2002.
Geography Sierra Leone
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia
Geographic coordinates:
8 30 N, 11 30 W
Map references:
total: 71,740 sq km
water: 120 sq km
land: 71,620 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries:
total: 958 km
border countries: Guinea 652 km, Liberia 306 km
402 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 NM
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 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: 6.76%
permanent crops: 0.78%
other: 92.46% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
290 sq km (1998 est.)
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, 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
People Sierra Leone
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:
18.83 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
6.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: by the end of 1999 refugees from Sierra Leone are assumed to be returning (2002 est.)
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
female: 49.01 years (2002 est.)
male: 43.01 years
Total fertility rate:
5.94 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
2.99% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
68,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
8,200 (1999 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
Muslim 60%, indigenous beliefs 30%, Christian 10%
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: 31.4%
male: 45.4%
female: 18.2% (1995 est.)
Government Sierra Leone
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
conventional short form: Sierra Leone
Government type:
constitutional democracy
Administrative divisions:
3 provinces and 1 area*; Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western*
27 April 1961 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 27 April (1961)
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
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ahmad Tejan KABBAH (since 29 March 1996, reinstated 10 March 1998); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ahmad Tejan KABBAH (since 29 March 1996, reinstated 10 March 1998); 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; Appeals Court; High 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]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Trade Unions and Student Unions
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ibrahim M. KAMARA
FAX: [1] (202) 483-1793
telephone: [1] (202) 939-9261 through 9263
chancery: 1701 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
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 Sierra Leone
Economy - overview:
Sierra Leone is an extremely poor African nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. It does have 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, following a 10-year civil war. About two-thirds 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. There are plans to reopen bauxite and rutile mines shut down during the conflict. The major source of hard currency consists of the mining of diamonds. The fate of the economy depends upon the maintenance of domestic peace and the continued receipt of substantial aid from abroad.
purchasing power parity - $2.7 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $500 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 43%
industry: 27%
services: 30% (2000)
Population below poverty line:
68% (1989 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 44% (1989) (1989)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
63 (1989)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
15% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
1.369 million
note: only about 65,000 wage earners (1985) (1981 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $96 million
expenditures: $351 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.) (2000 est.)
mining (diamonds); small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, cigarettes, footwear); petroleum refining
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
245 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
227.85 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
$65 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities:
diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
Exports - partners:
NZ 33.7%, Belgium 32.6%, US 7.4%, France 5.1% (2000)
$145 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
Imports - 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.)
leone (SLL)
Currency code:
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:
calendar year
Communications Sierra Leone
Telephones - main lines in use:
25,000 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
30,000 (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: marginal telephone and telegraph service
domestic: The national microwave radio relay trunk system connects 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)
1.12 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (1999)
53,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2001)
Internet users:
20,000 (2001)
Transportation Sierra Leone
total: 84 km
narrow gauge: 84 km 1.067-m gauge
note: Sierra Leone has no common carrier railroads; the existing railroad is private and used on a limited basis while the mine at Marampa is closed (2001)
total: 11,700 km
paved: 936 km
unpaved: 10,764 km (2002)
800 km (of which 600 km navigable year round)
Ports and harbors:
Bonthe, Freetown, Pepel
10 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 9
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 7
2 (2002)
Military Sierra Leone
Military branches:
Army (RSLAF)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,203,682 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 583,946 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$10.3 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.5% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Sierra Leone
Disputes - international:
ongoing conflict in Sierra Leone has engendered refugee movements into neighboring Guinea and Liberia

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003