Sierra Leone

Country Summary



The British set up a trading post near present-day Freetown in the 17th century. The colony gradually expanded inland during the course of the 19th century. Independence was attained in 1961. Recovering from a long civil war, the government's stated priorities include free primary and secondary education, economic growth, accountable governance, health, and infrastructure.



total: 71,740 sq km
land: 71,620 sq km
water: 120 sq km


tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)

Natural resources

diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite

People and Society


8,908,040 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Temne 35.4%, Mende 30.8%, Limba 8.8%, Kono 4.3%, Korankoh 4%, Fullah 3.8%, Mandingo 2.8%, Loko 2%, Sherbro 1.9%, Creole 1.2% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century; also known as Krio), other 5% (2019 est.)


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%)


Muslim 77.1%, Christian 22.9% (2019 est.)

Population growth rate

2.41% (2023 est.)


Government type

presidential republic


name: Freetown

Executive branch

chief of state: President Julius Maada BIO (since 28 June 2023); Vice President Mohamed Juldeh JALLOH (since 28 June 2023); note - the president is both chief of state, head of government, and minister of defense
head of government: President Julius Maada BIO (since 28 June 2023); Vice President Mohamed Juldeh JALLOH (since 28 June 2023)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament (146 seats; 132 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by a district block proportional representation vote and 14 seats filled in separate elections by non-partisan members of Parliament called "paramount chiefs;" members serve 5-year terms)


Economic overview

low-income West African economy; primarily subsistent agriculture; key iron and diamond mining activities suspended; slow recovery from 1990s civil war; systemic corruption; high-risk debt; high youth unemployment; natural resource rich

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$13.597 billion (2021 est.)
$13.061 billion (2020 est.)
$13.323 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$1,600 (2021 est.)
$1,600 (2020 est.)
$1,700 (2019 est.)

Agricultural products

cassava, rice, vegetables, oil palm fruit, sweet potatoes, milk, citrus fruit, groundnuts, fruit, pulses nes


diamond mining; iron ore, rutile and bauxite mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, footwear)


4.36% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.67% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.79% of GDP (2018 est.)


$700.971 million (2020 est.)
$1.06 billion (2019 est.)
$963.948 million (2018 est.)

Exports - partners

Belgium 26%, China 25%, Romania 9%, United Arab Emirates 6%, Germany 5%, Netherlands 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

titanium, lumber, diamonds, aluminum, cocoa beans (2019)


$1.418 billion (2020 est.)
$1.818 billion (2019 est.)
$1.594 billion (2018 est.)

Imports - partners

China 27%, India 11%, United States 6%, Ghana 5%, Turkey 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

rice, plastics, packaged medicines, sauces/seasonings, cars (2019)

Exchange rates

leones (SLL) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
10,439.425 (2021 est.)
9,829.927 (2020 est.)
9,010.221 (2019 est.)
7,931.632 (2018 est.)
7,384.432 (2017 est.)

Page last updated: Tuesday, November 14, 2023