Sierra Leone Facts

“A child in Sierra Leone, which has the world’s highest child mortality rate is about 87 times more likely to die than one born in Sweden. “

(UNICEF press release Sept. 12, 2008.)

 “If you’re a child born in Sierra Leone you have a more than one in four chance of not living to see your fifth birthday,”
UN children’s agency (UNICEF) Executive Director Ann Veneman 3 March 2008

 A recent press article:

“Sierra Leone is a familiar and news-worthy country. It is most often noted for its large and controversial industry of diamond mining.

A brutal civil war that lasted a decade has left many images of amputees and refugees, impoverished and displaced.
Added to these struggles, Sierra Leone is marked by the poorest standards of living. It has the seventh lowest life expectancy and one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Seventy percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Sierra Leoneans collect most of their drinking water from polluted sources. Pollutants and poor sanitation are attributed to some of the health problems in the country.

Sierra Leone is one of the toughest countries to survive in. One of the lowest in the world, much of this statistic can be blamed on poor living conditions. Almost half of the population is not using a protected water source for drinking. Most of the unsafe drinking sources are freestanding water, such as ponds, and unprotected wells. Infections and parasites, most found in contaminated water, lead to the largest cause of death in Sierra Leone. Poor sanitation generates high risk of hepatitis A and Typhoid fever. Stillwater breeds malaria-carrying mosquitoes that plague the region with one of the most common deadly infections contracted in the area. Overall, health and standard of living are poor.

Sierra Leone’s environment is disturbing production of agriculture and management of water. It has a rainy season about six months of each year. The rain is too torrential to be collected or used properly. Floods fill wells with waste and spread contaminated water to other drinking sources. For the amount of rain that soaks their land during the summers, Sierra Leoneans are confronted by equally difficult droughts during a winter dry season.

This country has insubstantial water storage to last through their dry season. It withdraws only one-third the amount of freshwater of other countries in similar size. Even though 95 percent of water is used agriculturally, ninety percent of food is imported in to Sierra Leone. With high costs of food, the average caloric intake for a Sierra Leonean is harmed by the country’s inability to produce population-sustaining agriculture.

Chemicals used during agriculture production are polluting surface waters where many rural citizens collect their drinking water. Mining has caused land degradation and water pollution. Deforestation by mining has depleted water resources, as well as slash-and-burn farming, urbanization, and infrastructure building.

The government of Sierra Leone has a difficult task in managing water resources. It struggles to ensure distribution to areas that require sufficient drinking water. Overall, the public lacks awareness for water management, and the government does not have resources to maintain and distribute clean water.”

(excerpt from Alexandra Barton in an article for ‘The Water Project’)



  • 1400’s Original inhabitants knew the country as Romarong, and Kono
  • Major Tribes were Sherbro, Temne and Limba, and Tyra  peoples, and later the Mende (now 31% of populus)
  • 1462, it was visited by the Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra, who dubbed it Serra de Leão, meaning ‘Lion Mountains’
  • 1700’s centre of slave trading
  • 1792 March 11th Freetown was founded as a home for formerly enslaved African Americans began as an independent colony under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Company
  • 1808, Freetown became a British Crown Colony,
  • 1896, the interior of the country became a British Protectorate
  • 1961, the two combined and gained independence and became the Republic of Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Civil War began in 1991 and resolved in 2002 after the struggling Nigerian-led United Nations troops were heavily reinforced by a British force spearheaded by 1st Bn The Parachute Regiment, supported by other elements of the Parachute Regt, SAS, and Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Operation Palliser. The arrival of this force, code-named Operation Palliser, resulted in the defeat of rebel forces and restored the civilian government elected in 1998 to Freetown. Since then, almost 72,500 former combatants have been disarmed and the country has reestablished a functioning democracy. The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was sworn in on 17 September 2007.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up in 2002 to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 1996.[13] Sierra Leone is the twelfth-lowest-ranked country on the Human Development Index and eighth-lowest on the Human Poverty Index, suffering from endemic corruption and suppression of the press.


  • Area: 71,740 sq km (27,699 sq miles)
  • Population 7 million (Population: 5,696,471 – 2009 world bank, 5.7 million (UN, 2009) 6.6 m (wikipedia 2011) WHO 7.5 million)
  • Capital: Freetown 1.1 million
  • Borders: Guinea, Liberia, Atlantic


  • Major languages: English, Krio (Creole language derived from English) and a range of African languages
  • Major religions: Islam, Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 46 years (men), 49 years (women) (UN)
  • 2007 1.7% adult population had aids (almost 1 in 50)
  • Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%

Major infectious diseases and cause of death rate bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever  water contact disease: schistosomiasis aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2009)


  • Monetary unit: Leone inflation 16%
  • Main exports: Diamonds (in top 10 diamond exporting countries), rutile (titanium dioxide), bauxite, gold, cocoa, coffee, fish