Sierra Leone at a Glance


Education in Sierra Leone is legally required for all children for six years at the primary level and three years at the secondary level, but a shortage of schools and teachers has made implementation impossible. The Sierra Leone Civil War resulted in the destruction of 1,270 primary schools, and in 2001, 67 percent of all school-age children were out of school. The situation has improved considerably since then with primary school enrollment doubling between 2001 and 2005, and with the reconstruction of many schools since the end of the war. There is still a very long way to go. The U.N. publishes the human development index which measures three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Sierra Leone’s human development index value places it in the low human development category, almost at the bottom of the list at 179 out of 188 countries ranked.


  • Life expectancy at birth: 52 years;
  • Poverty headcount (% pop): 52.9%;
  • GNI per capita, Atlas method (current - US$) - 480
  • GDP (current US$) - 3.56 Billion
  • Population - 7,396,190 Million


Human Development Report (HDR):

  • Mean years of schooling of the adult population: 3.3;
  • Percent of population living in multidimensional poverty: 77%.
  • Mobile phone subscriptions (per 100 people): 89.5
  • Internet users (% of pop): 2.5


UNICEF statistics for Sierra Leone:

  • Total adult literacy rate: 43.3%;
  • Youth literacy rate (male): 70.5%;
  • Youth literacy rate (female): 52.1%;


(HDR) Work and employment

  • Employment to population ratio (% ages 15 and older): 64.5
  • Child labour (% ages 5-14): 37.0
  • Labour force participation rate (% ages 15 and older): 66.8
  • Total unemployment rate (% of labour force): 3.4
  • Youth unemployment rate (% ages 15-24): 5.3

(HDR) Trade and Financial Flows

  • Exports and imports (% of GDP): 59.2
  • Exports and imports (% of GDP): 59.2
  • Concentration index (exports): 0.481
  • External debt stock (% of GNI): 28.4
  • Foreign direct investment, net inflows (% of GDP): 11.6
  • Net official develop. assistance received (% of GNI): 18.9
  • Private capital flows (% of GDP): -9.1
  • Remittances, inflows (% of GDP): 1.48


With all of this information in mind, it became very clear that the best way for us to affect change would be through adopting a hybrid for-profit / non-profit model with entrepreneurial mentorship, access to education, literacy and vocational resources.


This index ranks 163 independent states and territories, covering 99.7 per cent of the world’s population. It gauges global peace based on: level of safety and security in society; extent of domestic or international conflict; and degree of militarisation. Source

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Sierra Leone Ethnic Groups

Sierra Leone Ethnic Groups

Sierra Leone Districts and District Capitals

Sierra Leone Districts and District Capitals


Ties to the United States

Among the 40+ slave forts that operated along the coast of West Africa, a fort off the coast of Sierra Leone, Bunce Island, was unique in its close ties with the New World. Bunce provided slaves for close to 200 years, into the 1800s to plantations across the Atlantic. The Mende of Sierra Leone, knowledgeable in cultivating rice, brought higher prices when sold to rice planters in South Carolina and Georgia. After the abolitionists' movement resulted in the English government outlawing the slave trade, the British privatized their operations on Bunce and the fort continued selling slaves to the American plantations.  Historians have substantiated cultural and linguistic ties between the Mende and African Americans living in South Carolina and Georgia. Specific cultural practices, customs and language patterns directly link them to the Mende and Vai people of Sierra Leone. Henry Laurens, an American rice planter from South Carolina, was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and President of the Second Continental Congress when the U.S. constitution passed in 1777. Laurens earned great wealth as a partner in the largestslave-trading house in North America, Austin and Laurens. by purchasing slaves directly from the fort on Bunce Island and selling them to other rice planters across the sea. It has been estimated that at least half of the African-Americans who have descended from slaves can trace their family lineage to Sierra Leone. Some have already done so through DNA testing and existing business records, meticulously kept by certain British slave-traders and companies.


Additional Resources: 

Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative - Country Briefing

BBC News - Sierra Leone Country Profile

The Peace Corps Reopens Program in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Qualifies for the Millenium Challenge

Sierra Leone News: Awareness Times

Salone's Government-Funded Anti-Corruption Commission

Sierra Leonian Culture at a Glance

Republic of Sierra Leone Embassy in the United States - About Sierra Leone

Recommended Literature on the Civil War:

A Brief History of the Conflict in Sierra Leone

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Path of the World's Most Deadly Stones

The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia