macrohistory & world report

Republic of Sierra Leone

Map of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone (capital Freetown) and neighboring states

World Factbook, 2012: 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 has yet to recover from the civil war, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development."

According to the BBC (2011?) "Around half of government revenue comes from donors." The British government has continued to provide Sierra Leone with large scale aid and advice. The roll that aid plays in allowing Sierra Leone to have the most imbalanced budget is not readily found.

A 2008 World Press report describes Sierra Leone as suffering from endemic corruption.

As of April 2005, investors from China are looking to invest in tourism in Sierra Leone, which has beautiful beaches.

Economic growth rate
2011: 5.1%
2010: 5%
2009: 3.2%

Export commodities
Diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish

Export partners
2009: Belgium 29.2%, Romania 15.3%, US 9%, Netherlands 7.3%, Cote d'Ivoire 5.7%, UK 4.1%

Export/import ratio
2011: $469.7 million, imports $965.5 million

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 5th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.


Traditional birth attendants rub herbs onto the belly of pregnant women to protect a baby from medical problems and from curses.

Girls receive only six years of schooling. Female to male income ratio: 45:100.

June 2007: Parliament enacts laws that criminalize wife-beating and allow women to inherit property.

Living in an urban area:
2010: 38%

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2004: males 46.9%, females 24.4%

Ethnic groups
2008 census: 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)

Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%


Western Africa, north of Liberia. 402 kilometers of coastline along the Atlantic. Coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau and mountains in the east. Tropical. Capital: Freetown.

Recent History

Sierra Leone acquired independence from Britain in 1961 and becomes a member of Britain's Commonwealth of Nations. A military coup in 1967 overthrew the civilian government of Siaka Stevens. Civilian rule returned in 1968. In 1978 a new constitution declared Sierra Leone a one party state, that party being the All People's Congress.

In 1985, following the retirement of President Stephens, Major-General Joseph Momoh became president. In 1991 a civil war began as a force of Sierra Leoneans and Liberians, encouraged by Charles Taylor of Liberia and Muammar Qaddaffiof Libya, crossed from Liberia into Sierra Leone and captured border towns. In 1991 a new constitution created a multi-party state.

In 1992 members of the military, frustrated with the slowness of the war against the rebels, overthrew the Momoh governement and announced future multi-party elections. The leader of this government was overthrown in a military coup in 1996. The following month Ahmad Kabbah was elected president. A year later, in May 1997, a coalition of army officers ousted Kabbah.

In July, 1997, Sierra Leone was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. The UN imposed sanctions against Sierra Leone. Nigeria intervened and in February 1998 ousted rebels from the capital, Freetown. In May, Kabbah returned amid rejoicing.

In January 1999, rebels returned to Freetown and were driven out again, leaving about 5,000 dead. A compromise peace was made with the rebels, giving some government posts to rebel leaders. A UN force arrived. Fighting broke out again. Rebels abducted several hundred of the UN force. British paratroopers arrived to evacuate British subjects and to secure the airport for UN peacekeepers, and they moved to rescue British hostages.

In May 2001, British trained Sierra Leone forces began to spread into rebel areas. The rebels were disarmed. In January 2002, a decade of civil war was declared over, and the United Nations declared that 45,000 rebels had been disarmed and that the disarmament was complete. In May 2002, Kabbah won a landslide election.

As of May 2011, the incumbent president is Ernest Bai Koroma, elected on September 17, 2007. Koroma is the leader of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) party.. He is a 1976 graduate of the Fourah Bay College with a degree in economics and Business Management. Koroma is the first Sierra Leonean Head of State from the Temne ethnic group.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.