Population:

  • 6,018,888 (July 2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 110

Nationality:

  • noun: Sierra Leonean(s)
  • adjective: Sierra Leonean

Ethnic groups:

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) (2008 census)

Languages:

English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)

Religions:

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

Demographic profile:

Sierra Leone’s youthful and growing population is driven by its high total fertility rate (TFR) of almost 5 children per woman, which has declined little over the last two decades. Its elevated TFR is sustained by the continued desire for large families, the low level of contraceptive use, and the early start of childbearing. Despite its high TFR, Sierra Leone’s population growth is somewhat tempered by high infant, child, and maternal mortality rates that are among the world’s highest and are a result of poverty, a lack of potable water and sanitation, poor nutrition, limited access to quality health care services, and the prevalence of female genital cutting.

Sierra Leone’s large youth cohort – about 60% of the population is under the age of 25 – continues to struggle with high levels of unemployment, which was one of the major causes of the country’s 1991-2002 civil war and remains a threat to stability today. Its estimated 60% youth unemployment rate is attributed to high levels of illiteracy and unskilled labor, a lack of private sector jobs, and low pay.

Sierra Leone has been a source of and destination for refugees. Sierra Leone’s civil war internally displaced as many as 2 million people, or almost half the population, and forced almost another half million to seek refuge in neighboring countries (370,000 Sierra Leoneans fled to Guinea and 120,000 to Liberia). The UNHCR has helped almost 180,000 Sierra Leoneans to return home, while more than 90,000 others have repatriated on their own. Of the more than 65,000 Liberians who took refuge in Sierra Leone during their country’s civil war (1989-2003), about 50,000 have been voluntarily repatriated by the UNHCR and others have returned home independently. As of 2015, less than 1,000 Liberians still reside in Sierra Leone.

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 41.9% (male 1,257,997/female 1,263,961)
  • 15-24 years: 18.57% (male 542,975/female 574,669)
  • 25-54 years: 32.04% (male 924,331/female 1,003,895)
  • 55-64 years: 3.74% (male 104,415/female 120,953)
  • 65 years and over: 3.75% (male 94,520/female 131,172) (2016 est.)

population pyramid:

Dependency ratios:

  • total dependency ratio: 81.9
  • youth dependency ratio: 77.1
  • elderly dependency ratio: 4.9
  • potential support ratio: 20.6 (2015 est.)

Median age:

  • total: 19 years
  • male: 18.4 years
  • female: 19.6 years (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 202

Population growth rate:

  • 2.36% (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 32

Birth rate:

  • 36.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 14

Death rate:

  • 10.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 34

Net migration rate:

  • -2.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 173

Urbanization:

  • urban population: 39.9% of total population (2015)
  • rate of urbanization: 2.75% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population:

FREETOWN (capital) 1.007 million (2015)

Sex ratio:

  • at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
  • 0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female
  • 15-24 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
  • 25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
  • 55-64 years: 0.86 male(s)/female
  • 65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
  • total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth:

  • 19.2 years
  • note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2013 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:

  • 1,360 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 5

Infant mortality rate:

  • total: 70 deaths/1,000 live births
  • male: 78.4 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 61.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 11

Life expectancy at birth:

  • total population: 58.2 years
  • male: 55.6 years
  • female: 60.9 years (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 205

Total fertility rate:

  • 4.76 children born/woman (2016 est.)
  • country comparison to the world: 19

Contraceptive prevalence rate:

16.6% (2013)

Health expenditures:

  • 11.1% of GDP (2014)
  • country comparison to the world: 5

Physicians density:

0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density:

0.4 beds/1,000 population (2006)

Drinking water source:

improved:

  • urban: 84.9% of population
  • rural: 47.8% of population
  • total: 62.6% of population

unimproved:

  • urban: 15.1% of population
  • rural: 52.2% of population
  • total: 37.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access:

improved:

  • urban: 22.8% of population
  • rural: 6.9% of population
  • total: 13.3% of population

unimproved:

  • urban: 77.2% of population
  • rural: 93.1% of population
  • total: 86.7% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.34% (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 36

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

51,100 (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 54

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

2,500 (2015 est.) country comparison to the world: 48

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high

  • food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
  • vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever
  • water contact disease: schistosomiasis
  • animal contact disease: rabies
  • aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate:

  • 6.6% (2014)
  • country comparison to the world: 144

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:

  • 18.1% (2013)
  • country comparison to the world: 34

Education expenditures:

  • 2.7% of GDP (2014)
  • country comparison to the world: 141

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic
  • total population: 48.1%
  • male: 58.7%
  • female: 37.7% (2015 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14:

  • total number: 573,287
  • percentage: 48% (2005 est.)
People and Society
People and Society