Population of Sierra Leone 2017


Current population of Sierra Leone is 6,163,195 people (July 2017 est.).


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 knownas 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)


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%)


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 levelsof 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 hashelped 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: 41.82% (male 1,286,681/female 1,290,924)
15-24 years: 18.56% (male 556,478/female 587,454)
25-54 years: 32.16% (male 949,264/female 1,032,783)
55-64 years: 3.7% (male 106,706/female 121,111)
65 years and over: 3.76% (male 96,285/female 135,509) (2017 est.)

Dependency Ratios

total dependency ratio: 82.6
youth dependency ratio: 78
elderly dependency ratio: 4.6
potential support ratio: 21.9 (2015 est.)

Median Age

total: 19 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 19.6 years (2016 est.)

Population Growth Rate

2.4% (2017 est.)

Birth Rate

36.3 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)

Death Rate

10.4 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)

Net Migration Rate

-2.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)

Population Distribution

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


urban population: 40.7% of total population (2017)
rate of urbanization: 2.72% annual rate of change (2015-20 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.)

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.)

Life Expectancy at Birth

total population: 58.2 years
male: 55.6 years
female: 60.9 years (2016 est.)

Total Fertility Rate

4.73 children born/woman (2017 est.)

Contraceptive Prevalence Rate

16.6% (2013)

Health Expenditures

11.1% of GDP (2014)

Physicians Density

0.02 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital Bed Density

0.4 beds/1,000 population (2006)

Drinking Water Source

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 Access

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 Rate

1.7% (2016 est.)

HIV/AIDS – People Living with HIV/AIDS

67,000 (2016 est.)

HIV/AIDS – Deaths

2,800 (2016 est.)

Major Infectious Disease

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)

Children Under the Age of 5 Years Underweight

18.1% (2013)

Education Expenditures

2.7% of GDP (2014)


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.)