Inicio About Sierra Leone Demography



Sierra Leone is a republic in western Africa, bordering Guinea, Liberia and the Atlantic Ocean.


The population of Sierra Leone is estimated around six million and comprises numerous different ethnic groups, 14 in total. The majority is represented by the Mende (predominant in the center and southern part of the country) and Temne (predominant in the northern part) in approximately 31% to 35%. Significant minorities include the Limba, at 8%, the Kono with 5%, 2% with the Mandinka, the locomotive with 2% or the Creole and Krio with another 2%. The latter are descendants of freed Jamaican  slaves who settled in Freetown. Other, smaller ethnic groups are the Bullom-Sherbro, the Fula or Fulani, the Kuranko, the Susu, the Yalunka, the Kissi and Vai.


Apart from English (official language) also other languages are widely spoken, especially by the respected ethnic groups. Thus speak the native language of about 10% than in English-based Krio. It also serves for the majority of the population as a lingua franca. The language of the Temne is spoken by about 30% as a mother tongue, Mende is also common.


  • The summarized fertility rate lies at 6.1 children per woman, only 4% of women have acces to modern contraceptive methods.
  • Accordingly, 42% of the population are younger than 15 years and only 4% older than 65 years (in 2008).
  • The life expectancy according to WHO dates for 2006 42.6 years.
  • Sierra Leone ranks among the five countries with the lowest life expectancies.


Sierra Leone is a religiously tolerant nation; Muslims and Christians interact with each other peacefully and people marry across ethnic and religious boundaries.
70% of the population are Sunni Muslims and 20% are Christians. The rest (about 10%) is not committed to any religion or is a supporter of traditional African religions. The number of believing Muslims is expanding rapidly in 1960, the proportion of Muslims in Sierra Leone amounted 35% and has doubled until today.


According to UNICEF Sierra Leone maintains in child and maternal mortality tragic records: nearly one in three children doesn’t experience its fifth birthday. Almost 2% of all women die during pregnancy or childbirth. Many children suffer from chronical malnutrition, which makes them particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as malaria. Malaria is responsible for one third of all deaths in young children. Child labor is extremely high. 48% of all children between 5 and 14 are inolved in hard physical work. Many children were forced to recruit during the civil war as child soldiers as well.


The introduction of general compulsory education is trying to be realized. However, an adequate education throughout the country due to the small number of teachers and schools is difficult to achieve. The “Agenda for Change” is one of the governmental initiatives, which is also working in one sector on the improvement of education. Approximately 64% of the population is illiterate.


Sierra Leone is according to the Constitution of 1991, a presidential republic within the Commonwealth. Head of State, Prime Minister and Commander of the armed forces is the President, who gets elected directly for 5 years.
The two most influential parties are the currently ruling All People's Congress (APC), the former single party, and the Sierra Leone People's Party (Sierra Leone People's Party, SLPP), the largest opposition party.
The legislative in Sierra Leone is based on the British Common Law. The Common Law is a dominant legal- system in many English- speaking countries in which the government exercises the executive power and legislative power is transmitted in both: the government and the House of Representatives. Independent of the executive and legislature is the judiciary. In rural areas with a Muslim majority the Sharia is still partly in charge.
Same-sex love and sexual intercourse are prosecuted. The death penalty consists for serious crimes such as (international) murder and treason.


The security situation following the 2009 local elections in Sierra Leone has been described by Amnesty International as stable and could also mark a successful progress in the fight against corruption in the country.
According to a report of Amnesty International from 2010 sexual and gender-based violence against women still continue, as well as dangerous traditional practices like female genital mutilation are. Even though some traditional leaders uttered for the abolition of female genital mutilation, yet it is still very widespread.


For the majority of the population, agriculture is the basis of existence. only about 6% of the area is used for agriculture, but it provides a livlihood for over 80% of the population. Primarily rice, millet and cassava is produced, mostly for personal use (subsistence farming). For export, coffee, cocoa and palm kernels are determined.
The material extraction and fishing constitute the country‘s economy as well.
The mining Sector Sierra Leone‘s accounted in 2008 79% in export revenues, which include the export of Diamonds, tumber, gold, Bauxite, rutile, iron orte and ginger.
Main trading partners are Belgium, Britain, the USA, the Netherlands and Germany.
Approximately 70% of the population lives in extreme poverty. The former British colony occupied the last place on the list of the United Nations Development Programme for many years (1995- 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006) (see also “Least Developed Countries“).