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Sierra Leone Demographics Profile 2019

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6,312,212 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 41.71% (male 1,314,905 /female 1,317,921)
15-24 years: 18.6% (male 572,274 /female 602,105)
25-54 years: 32.23% (male 973,698 /female 1,060,688)
55-64 years: 3.7% (male 110,176 /female 123,268)
65 years and over: 3.76% (male 97,922 /female 139,255) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 82.6 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 78 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 4.6 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 21.9 (2015 est.)
Median age
total: 19.1 years (2018 est.)
male: 18.4 years
female: 19.7 years
Population growth rate
2.4% (2018 est.)
Birth rate
36 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate
10.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate
-1.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
urban population: 42.5% of total population (2019)
rate of urbanization: 3.12% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major cities - population
1.168 million FREETOWN (capital) (2019)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Mother's mean age at first birth
19.2 years (2013 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Infant mortality rate
total: 66.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
male: 74.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 58.3 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 59 years (2018 est.)
male: 56.4 years
female: 61.7 years
Total fertility rate
4.69 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
22.5% (2017)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
1.5% (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
70,000 (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths
2,100 (2018 est.)
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 (2015 est.)
rural: 6.9% of population (2015 est.)
total: 13.3% of population (2015 est.)
unimproved: urban: 77.2% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 93.1% of population (2015 est.)
total: 86.7% of population (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseases
degree of risk: very high (2016)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016)
vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever (2016)
water contact diseases: schistosomiasis (2016)
animal contact diseases: rabies (2016)
aerosolized dust or soil contact diseases: Lassa fever (2016)
noun: Sierra Leonean(s)
adjective: Sierra Leonean
Ethnic groups
Temne 35.5%, Mende 33.2%, Limba 6.4%, Kono 4.4%, Fullah 3.4%, Loko 2.9%, Koranko 2.8%, Sherbro 2.6%, Mandingo 2.4%, Creole 1.2% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century; also known as Krio), other Sierra Leone 4.7%, other foreign 0.3% (includes refugees from Liberia's civil war, and small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians), unspecified 0.2% (2013 est.)
Muslim 78.6%, Christian 20.8%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.2% (2013 est.)
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.

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%)
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.)
Education expenditures
4.6% of GDP (2017)
Maternal mortality rate
1,120 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
18.2% (2013)
Health expenditures
18.3% (2015)
Physicians density
0.03 physicians/1,000 population (2011)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
8.7% (2016)

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on December 7, 2019

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