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Key Demographic Features of Sierra Leone*


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


Population: 4,793,121 (July 1996 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 45% (male 1,057,824; female 1,092,291)
15-64 years: 52% (male 1,197,547; female 1,298,834)
65 years and over: 3% (male 75,066; female 71,559) (July 1996 est.)
Population growth rate: 4.14% (1996 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 135.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1996 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 47.47 years
male: 44.56 years
female: 50.47 years (1996 est.)
Ethnic divisions: 13 native African tribes 99% (Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other 39%), Creole, European, Lebanese, and Asian 1%
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 (the language of the re- settled ex-slave population of the Freetown area and is lingua franca)
Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write in English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic (1995 est.)
total population: 31.4%
male: 45.4%
female: 18.2%


Country Abbreviation: SL
Type of government: constitutional democracy
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
15 parties registered for the February 1996 elections; National Peoples Party (NPP), Andrew TURAY; Democratic Center Party (DCP), Abu KOROMA; Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Edward KAMARA, chairman; Coalition for Progress Party (CPP), Geredine WILLIAMS- SARHO; National Unity Movement (NUM); United National Peoples Party (UNPP); Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Thaimu BANGURA, chairman; All Peoples Congress (APC), S. A. T. KOROMA, chairman; National Republican Party (NRP); Social Democratic Party (SDP); Peoples National Convention (PNC), I. B. KARGBO, chairman; National Unity Party (NUP), A. O. D. GEORGE, chairman; Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Paul DUNBAR, chairman; National Democratic Alliance (NDA); National Alliance for Democracy Party (NADP)
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, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: (vacant)
chancery: 1701 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 939-9261
US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador John L. HIRSCH
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: three equal horizontal bands of light green (top), white, and light blue


Economic 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 push down production, exports, and the value of the leone. 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 - $4.4 billion (1994 est.)
GDP real growth rate: -4% (1994 est.)
GDP per capita: $960 (1994 est.)
Unemployment rate: NA%


Telephones: 17,526 (1991 est.)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0
Radios: 980,000 (1992 est.)
Television broadcast stations: 1
Televisions: 45,000 (1992 est.)

*Source: World Factbook 1996, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

The World Factbook contains many additional demographic variables that may be of interest to persons who wish to examine a particular country in more depth. To access the World Factbook, Click Here. (This link will open a new window)


Last modified: 06/21/01
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