All the tools and resources you need to export your goods across the world

The British set up a trading post near present-day Freetown in the 17th century. Originally the trade involved timber and ivory, but later it expanded into slaves. Following the American Revolution, a colony was established in 1787 and Sierra Leone became a destination for resettling black loyalists who had originally been resettled in Nova Scotia. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, British crews delivered thousands of Africans liberated from illegal slave ships to Sierra Leone, particularly Freetown. The colony gradually expanded inland during the course of the 19th century; independence was attained in 1961. Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war (1991-2002) that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one third of the population). The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, has developed as a guarantor of the country's stability; the armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 and 2012 national elections. In March 2014, the closure of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone marked the end of more than 15 years of peacekeeping and political operations in Sierra Leone. The government's stated priorities include furthering development - including recovering from the Ebola epidemic - creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption.


Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia

Natural Resources

diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite

Population - distribution

population clusters are found in the lower elevations of the south and west; the northern third of the country is less populated

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%)
FREETOWN (capital) 1.007 million (2015)
Conventional long form
Republic of Sierra Leone
Conventional short form
Sierra Leone
Local long form
Republic of Sierra Leone
Local short form
Sierra Leone
presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
8 29 N, 13 14 W
Time difference
UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Sierra Leone is extremely poor and nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. The country possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, but it is still recovering from a civil war that destroyed most institutions before ending in the early 2000s.
External debt stocks
US$ 1,378,145,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -910,410,846
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 1,978,032,550
Exports of goods and services
US$ 863,800,566
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 518,680,000
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 202,491,458
rice, coffee, cocoa, palm kernels, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs; fish
diamond mining; iron ore, rutile and bauxite mining; small-scale manufacturing (beverages, textiles, footwear)
iron ore, diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee, fish
China 31.4%, Belgium 27.9%, Romania 11.4%, US 7.3% (2015)
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels and lubricants, chemicals
China 23.1%, India 8%, US 6.5%, Netherlands 5.1% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is very difficult. Corporate financial information is rarely available and when available usually unreliable. The legal system makes debt collection very unpredictable. The institutional framework has very serious weaknesses. Intercompany transactions can thus be very difficult to manage in the highly risky environments rated D.
  • Significant mineral resources (iron, diamonds, rutile and gold)
  • Production of coffee, rice and cocoa
  • Potential for tourism
  • International financial support
  • Significant port activity, set to increase
  • Vulnerability to meteorological conditions
  • High level of dependency on commodities prices
  • Corruption, insufficiently protected ownership rights
  • Insufficient infrastructure, failing healthcare system
  • Difficulty accessing credit for small and medium-sized companies
  • Extreme poverty, high levels of unemployment
  • Risk of resurgence of Ebola virus epidemic

Our site saves small pieces of text information (cookies) on your device in order to deliver better content and for statistical purposes. By browsing our website you grant us permission to store that information on your device. For more information check our Terms and Conditions.