Society of Sierra Leone



Population per sq km: 89

Life expectancy:  51 years

Population: 6,453,000 (2015); 40 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 2.1 per cent p.a. 1990–2015; birth rate 36 per 1,000 people (46 in 1970); life expectancy 51 years (36 in 1970 and 40 in 1990); population figures are unreliable because during the civil war in the mid-1990s up to 50 per cent of the population had to leave their homes – there was mass migration to towns and to neighbouring countries.

The vast majority of the people are of Bantu origin: Temne (35 per cent in the 2008 census) and Limba (eight per cent) people mostly in the Northern province; Mende people (31 per cent) live in the Southern province and Eastern province. Additionally, there are nine other Bantu ethnic groups, including Kono (five per cent), Mandingo (two per cent) and Loko (two per cent). Krios (two per cent) are descendants of formerly enslaved 19th-century immigrants who live mostly in and around Freetown. The small Lebanese community, mostly of traders, decreased during the 1990s.

Language: English is the official language. Krio (an English-based Creole) is spoken in and around Freetown. Other major languages are Temne, Mende and Limba.

Religion: Muslims 60 per cent, Christians ten per cent, with most of the remaining population holding traditional beliefs, which often coexist with other religions.

Media: There are many newspapers including Awareness Times, Awoko, Concord Times and Standard Times.

Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation provides public radio and TV services. There are many private radio stations and ABC TV is a private TV channel.

Public holidays: New Year’s Day, Independence Day (27 April), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Mouloud (Prophet’s Birthday), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid alFitr (End of Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).