Sierra Leone: People & Society#

Population6,018,888 (July 2016 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Sierra Leonean(s)
adjective: Sierra Leonean
Ethnic groupsTemne 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)
LanguagesEnglish (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%)
ReligionsMuslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%
Demographic profileSierra 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 structure0-14 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.)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 81.9%
youth dependency ratio: 77.1%
elderly dependency ratio: 4.9%
potential support ratio: 20.6% (2015 est.)
Median agetotal: 19 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 19.6 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate2.36% (2016 est.)
Birth rate36.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate10.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate-2.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanizationurban population: 39.9% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.75% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas - populationFREETOWN (capital) 1.007 million (2015)
Sex ratioat 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 birth19.2
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2013 est.)
Maternal mortality rate1,360 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 70 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 78.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 61.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 58.2 years
male: 55.6 years
female: 60.9 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate4.76 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate16.6% (2013)
Health expenditures11.1% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2010)
Hospital bed density0.4 beds/1,000 population (2006)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 84.9% of population
rural: 47.8% of population
total: 62.6% of population
urban: 15.1% of population
rural: 52.2% of population
total: 37.4% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 22.8% of population
rural: 6.9% of population
total: 13.3% of population
urban: 77.2% of population
rural: 93.1% of population
total: 86.7% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate1.34% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS51,100 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths2,500 (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree 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 rate6.6% (2014)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight18.1% (2013)
Education expenditures2.7% of GDP (2014)
Literacydefinition: 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 5-14total number: 573,287
percentage: 48% (2005 est.)