Sierra Leone is an independent republic within the Commonwealth since 1961, constituted by the union of the territories subjected to the colony regime (Freetown and surroundings) and of the protectorate (internal regions) by Great Britain, which gradually granted autonomy and the transfer of powers to local representatives up to complete independence.
The population was 3,002,426 residents at the 1974 census and is increasing at a slower rate than in other West African countries (annual growth coefficient: 2%). The relatively high population density is on average almost 41 residents per km 2 on the 71,740 km 2 of territory, but in the province of the capital it exceeds 350. The capital, Freetown, has 214,500 residents (1974), and only five other cities slightly exceed 10,000 residents; the urban population amounts to just over 10% of the total.
Agriculture has a relatively limited importance in SL; subsistence crops by far prevail, among which rice is of great importance (more than 5.8 million q in 1976), barely sufficient to meet the needs. Production of corn, sorghum, cassava is developing, while millet is stationary. There are numerous agricultural products destined for export; among the main ones are coffee, cocoa (respectively 50,000 and 60,000 q in 1976) and palm oil. Negligible productions give the breeding and fishing. On the other hand, the weight of mineral resources is considerable. The SL ranks fifth-sixth in the world ranking of both industrial and precious diamond producers (1.7 million carats in 1975). Also relevant is the extraction of iron ores with a good metal content (60%) which is around 1.5 million t of Fe content. Other metals are extracted, including rare and precious ones: bauxite, chromite, platinum, rutile; the excavation of gold minerals, once significant, was almost abandoned due to the exhaustion of the deposits. Industry, if we exclude the primary processing of agricultural and mining products, is scarcely present; chemical plants, cement factories and the only oil refinery are almost all located around the capital. primary processing of agricultural and mining products, is scarcely present; chemical plants, cement factories and the only oil refinery are almost all located around the capital. primary processing of agricultural and mining products, is scarcely present; chemical plants, cement factories and the only oil refinery are almost all located around the capital.
The communications network consists of more than 7000 km of roads and about 600 km of railways, supplemented by the possibility of navigating the lower rivers for a total of 800 km. Freetown has a relatively important port which, in 1975-76, received a traffic of 1.6 mil. of t; Pepel is the main port of embarkation for minerals. The most intense commercial relations take place with Great Britain; the trade balance shows a constant deficit. The annual per capita income is very low: US $ 148 in 1971.
According to countryaah, Sierra Leone’s economy is based primarily on agriculture and mining. Although the country is rich in natural resources, it is still one of the world’s poorest. A large part of the population lives on self-sustaining agriculture and work in the informal sector. The civil war in 1991–2002 was devastating for the country, including the economy, but growth has since been good. However, this has not benefited the growing population to any great extent. Contributing to the poor economic result is civil war, import costs and administrative inefficiency.
- According to abbreviationfinder, SL is the 2 letter abbreviation for the country of Sierra Leone.
Agriculture is largely undeveloped and focused on self-sufficiency. The technological level is low and the use of sweat dominates. State-determined prices for agricultural products and high taxation of export crops have contributed to the lack of agricultural development. Less than 10 percent of farmers grow export crops (coffee, cocoa and palm trees). The most important consumption crop is rice, which is grown by 75 percent of the farmers. However, production is not enough for the country’s needs, and about 25 percent of consumption is imported.
The mining industry is the second most important commodity-producing sector and the most important source of export revenue. The most important minerals are diamonds, iron ore, bauxite and rutile. The sector was severely affected by the civil war in 1991–2002 and was also hit with financial, technical and administrative problems. Production has fluctuated strongly, and periodically large parts of the industry have ceased. Smuggling of gold and diamonds is significant. Sierra Leone is, after Australia, one of the world’s largest exporters of rutile. The country also has a large unexploited resource in the fish-rich waters off the country’s Atlantic coast. Commercial fishing ceased almost entirely during the Civil War. After the war, however, the importance of the industry has increased and fish is now an important export commodity. Foreign vessels’ predatory fishing affects both the fish stocks and the country’s economy in the form of lost income.
During the 1960s, a subsidized industry was built around import-substitution industries, such as breweries, mills and cigarette manufacturing. Lack of foreign currency, water and electricity as well as increased costs for imported inputs led to a decline in the 1980s, and during the civil war in 1991–2002 the industry was largely wasted. The most important industries are the production of palm oil, the brewing industry, the processing of agricultural products and the manufacture of textiles and furniture.
Since 1970, Sierra Leone has a near-permanent trade deficit. The most important export goods are diamonds, rutile, cocoa, coffee and fish. The main import goods are food, machinery, transport and fuel. The most important trading partners are China, Ivory Coast, Belgium and the United States.